Apparently, I have a fear of leaving the house when it comes to hosting my kids’ birthday parties. It happens every year. We start discussions months out – wouldn’t it be great to have a swimming party at Foss or a rollerskating party at the Roller Garden? Inevitably my daughter’s enthusiasm for completely transforming our home wins out. Most disappointing was the Welcome to the Jungle (think G n’ R) year #7, when Ava told her friends to expect a jungle. They got a Pin the Wings on the Fairy game instead.
This year for Ava’s 8th, we opted for a disco theme which neatly coincided with my husband’s new past time as a deejay. We sent out nine invites nine days in advance and asked that each guest submit one song request in advance of the party.
Planning a party at home takes 10 hours over 3 days (this doesn’t include dj set-up time). I noted the time spent, knowing I would be blogging about it. 3.5 hours for shopping and getting crafts started (day 1), 4.5 hours for cleaning, organizing, transforming and cake baking (day 2) and 2 hours for getting the food and crafts ready (day 3/ party day). The family room, with several pieces of furniture removed, served as the dance floor complete with a disco ball, stars, great colored track lighting and two huge speakers.
The scene was set. Wasn’t I going to keep it simple this year? Will I disappoint my soon to be 6-yr-old son whose birthday is in two weeks? I certainly couldn’t recreate an event at this scale again. I will think about that next week.
Right now, it’s 6:00p.m. and the girls are arriving. We get them started on the Make Your Fake (as in ID) activity. The spend some time drawing self-portraits, making up names and decorating their IDs. Later, in line at the “club,” I notice most own up to their 8 years and one girl lists her age as 18. Clever.
In the past I’ve made way too much food. This year I’m going with grilled cheese paninis, Knox Blox (blue hearts, purple stars, red and pink flowered shapes), smoothies and cake. I notice a considerable difference in manners from 7 to 8-year-olds and a lengthened time they can focus on activities. They finish eating their sandwiches and get in line for the club. Dedications to Ava from her friends go out as the songs are played. For starters: We Are Who We Are by Kesha – you know, the superstar song, dj turn it up…. Then there’s On the Floor by J Lo, Jackson 5, Selena Gomez and 21st Century Girl by Willow Smith. A Bieber song elicits huge boo-ing so the dj quickly moves into Taylor Swift You Belong to Me for apologies.
They are all looking a little heated so the club takes a timeout. The delve into the mask-making and make-up activities. I think we’re about 7:15 along to an 8:00 party ending time. The masks, which I’ve pre-cut out of glittery felt and adhered to tagboard background along with a dowel rod as the handle, get adorned with feathers and sequins courtesy of a hot glue gun that only I am allowed to operate. Lots of work for Mom.
At the other station, Katie, who knows a bit about make-up, is applying three shadows of MAC pink, cream and tan to their lids and a pinky/orangy color of gloss to their lips. They are loving this! I am hoping parents don’t mind. I failed to ask for an all-clear on that when the girls were dropped off.
With masks and make-up, they head it back to the club for So Big by Iyaz (spontaneously choreographed by Katie) and Firework by Katie Perry, her brother’s favorite song. A few more tunes and the dj fades it out. Triple-layer Vanilla Cake and smoothies are served. The girls do the lengthy Happy Birthday song version that includes cafeteria lyrics. Eight candles are out with no presents to open this year due to no gift request. Ava is fine with this, but she does get some gifts post-party from family who stick around to do the Electric Slide after all the guests are gone.
It was a lot of excitement. Parents are exhausted. Ava is disappointed that two hours went so fast. Would we do it all over? Yes! For me, it was clear that these girls, at this time in their lives, seem to have positive images of themselves. I want for them to be able to hold onto that forever in some way. They are superstars!