Pretend Sleepover – 5th Birthday

Both of my kids loved “Pajama Day” in preschool, and other moms were beginning to consult each other on when to let their daughters sleep over at another house(for us it will be years!)  So I thought my idea to have a pretend sleepover for my daughter’s 5th birthday party was brilliant – until a friend said she’d done it twice already!  No problem – my daughter was excited and we had a lot of fun.

“Honey, will you help me move our living room furniture into the garage?”
If you’ve been married for any length of time, you can imagine the look my husband gave me.  But we didn’t have any other place to put 11 sleeping bags.  So out went the couch, loveseat, two tables and a floor lamp.

Decorations & Party Craft
I like to check fabric stores for prints that go with our party theme.  This time I found pink and purple moon/stars fabric at Hancock Fabrics, and hung it over our windows in the living room and kitchen.

My kids painted glittery posterboard stars, which we hung in the dining room and from our stairs.

On the dining aka craft table is a big piece of black vinyl (also works as a chalkboard tablecloth), buckets I’d personalized from Dollar Tree with Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers, glittery gold star wands from Oriental Trading and sparkly stickers and adhesive gems for decorating the buckets.

As the girls arrived, they spread out their sleeping bags and decorated their buckets.

Pajama Pants Relay
In our foyer (the only space where there was still room!), the kids formed two lines.  Two kids at a time put one leg each in a pair of Sasha’s pj pants – they had to walk to the front door and back.  Lots of giggles!  Afterward, everyone received a Dover Little Activity Book for her bucket.

Bunnies & Pass Mr. Elephant
For two years, when we asked our daughter what she wants to be when she grows up, her earnest reply was, “A bunny owner.”  So I bought unstuffed bunnies and tiny t-shirts from Bday Bears.

The girls sat in their sleeping bags in a circle and passed around Sasha’s favorite bedtime stuffed animal, “Mr. Elephant,” while I played music.  When the music stopped whomever was holding Mr. Elephant received a bunny to stuff.

The kids stuffed their bunnies while they sat in their sleeping bags and then decorated t-shirts with fabric markers at tables set up in the kitchen.

With dressed bunnies, it was back to the sleeping bags.  I passed out bags of popcorn and my husband read Pajama Party and Franklin Has a Sleepover.  (Fancy Nancy Pajama Day, released right after this party, would’ve been great).  It helps that my husband is goofy – he pretended to fall asleep while he was reading, and wails of laughter erupted.

Fun Bedtime Chores
After popcorn, it was time to brush their teeth.  We have a large master bathroom, so I usually find some way to use the space during kids’ parties.  The girls painted pictures of teeth with toothbrushes and got wind-up chomping teeth for their trouble.  While I cleaned up the paint, they climbed in and out of our Jacuzzi tub and pretended to take a bath – and they added a bath pouf ( 6 or 7 for a dollar at Dollar Tree) to their buckets.

Easiest Cake Ever
After pizza, it was time for cake.  My daughter loves donuts, so naturally we had a donut cake.  That morning, I’d picked up a big box of Krispy Kremes, plain and sprinkles, and piled them on top of each other.  I had frosting on hand to serve as glue, but didn’t need it.  Bonus – Krispy Kreme gave us perfect, free party hats.

Thanks for Coming Gift
Each girl received Pajama Party.  Inside each cover was a personalized sticker that said “Thanks for coming to Sasha’s party” from Birthday In a Box.  My son, the only boy and a big Berenstain Bears fan, got The Berenstain Bears’ Sleepover.

Books to Donate in Lieu of Gifts
As I’d always done, I included “No gifts, please” on the invitation.  But this time I suggested that each girl bring a favorite bedtime book to donate to the library.  Everyone did, and we donated 14 new books.  I’d checked at the library ahead of time, hoping they’d have labels (“This book was donated by…”) for me to give the girls to fill out, or a thank you note, but they did not.  Fine idea, but it wasn’t the feel-good lesson I was hoping for.

This party was loads of fun and we happily avoided all of the primping activities that my daughter doesn’t care about and I don’t encourage.  After it was over, my husband and I were ready for real sleep!

Frogs – 2nd Birthday

This was a simple party for my son’s 2nd birthday.  His favorite shirt had a frog on it and he loved the plastic frogs that cost $1 per pack at The Dollar Tree.  When I saw this invitation at Learning Express, Frogs it was.

We invited just a few kids (with a parent) for lunch on a Sunday.  A craft, an easy game, pizza and cupcakes were plenty for this age.

Fly-Catching Frog
This is a clever craft from Family Fun using red party blowers.  The kids loved blowing out their long red “tongues.”  And only because my son had just discovered the joy of glitter, I let the kids make their frogs sparkly (a big hit since glitter is too messy for most parents).  We also used glue sticks and sticky-back wiggly eyes.  Moms had to help assemble. 

Lily Pad Hop
I taped green poster board lily pads on the floor in our foyer and stuck a fake flower on a few of them.  The kids pretended to be frogs jumping from lily pad to lily pad.  Easy, cheap, cute.

Party Supplies
I still love the colorful frog plates we ordered from Oriental Trading.  The big, bright frog candles were adorable,  but they were a little wobbly (small cupcakes, not much icing).  So the kids’ cupcakes were each topped with a plastic toy frog.

A Frog Hoppers Game for ages 2-3, which my children still play with, and a frog bath toy for siblings 1 and under.


Painted Penguins

This lesson comes from Deep Space Sparkle.  As an Art Parent, I have about 40 minutes to complete a lesson, plus a few minutes on either end for set-up and clean-up.  Painting is always ambitious, but the kids love it – it feels special.

I followed Patty’s step-by-step instructions with only a few changes.

To save time and get the size right, I gave each child a cardboard oval template to trace for the body.  They also made the drawing with a black Sharpie, since they wouldn’t be able to outline them after the paintings dried.  I hoped that the Sharpie would show through enough.

I also found out when I made the painting myself first that washable tempura worked well for the blues and oranges,  but it wasn’t as dark as I would’ve liked for the white tummy and black wings.  So I gave the kids regular Black and White tempura for those parts and crossed my fingers that nothing would get stained!

Finally, I didn’t think the children would be happy if they couldn’t see their penguins’ eyes, so I brought along my favorite self-adhesive jewels from Oriental Trading.  The kids had fun picking out their penguins’ eye color and figuring out whether they should get one or two eyes based on where they’d placed the beak.

It was a giant mess to clean up when I got home - I  scooped 22 messy paintbrushes, palette trays and plastic cottage cheese containers (for rinsing brushes) into a garbage bag to get them out of the classroom quickly.  But I’ll absolutely do it again.  The subject matter was perfect for first grade, every kid was proud of his painting and the teacher was thrilled to have winter-themed art to hang in the hall outside of the classroom.

Thank you, Deep Space Sparkle!

End-of-Year Preschool Party

Here’s a fun idea for a picnic-themed party if your child’s class can get outside on their last day of school.  (Children will get wet, though, so make sure it’s ok with the teachers first.)

Spray Bottles
At ages 3 and 4, my own two children could amuse themselves for hours with spray bottles of water out in our backyard.  So I bought 16 spray bottles at Dollar Tree and wrote my daughter’s and her classmates’ names on them with Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Pens.  Another mom and I collected the foam stickers and adhesive jewels we already had so the kids could decorate their own bottles.

Bug Spray
I also picked up a cheap white bedsheet and showed my own kids how to draw simple bug shapes.  Using Washable Crayola Markers, we drew colorful bugs all over the sheet.  I wrote “Miss Jones’ and Miss Smith’s Class” at the top, and each child’s name somewhere on the sheet.  We hung the sheet from a fence with cable-ties, close to where the children would have their picnic.

Beach Balls
The kids decorated beach balls with Sharpie markers.  The hardest part was blowing up the balls beforehand.

A few days earlier I’d mixed up homemade bubble solution (6 parts water, 2 parts Dawn Ultra, 3/4 part corn syrup), and I lugged it in a big tub from Target along with giant bubble wands from Learning Express to the party.

After the children ate, they decorated their water bottles, sprayed the sheet (to get rid of the bugs and say goodbye to their preschool class) and played with the beach balls and bubbles.

No More Training Wheels

Both of our children recently took off on their bikes sans training wheels.

My husband and I would like to thank REI. Their status as one of my favorite retailers has been further cemented.  Check out their video, “Teaching Your Child To Ride A Bike.”  It worked like a charm for us.