Throwing a Penguin-themed birthday party for 15 kids in your home is no joke.
First you have to decide if you're insane enough to do this. Then you have to think about whether your sensory-sensitive kid (sight, sound) can handle having so many people in their house. For this rookie mom, I at first didn't make the connection that 15 kids meant that parents and sometimes siblings might show up. Once I got a grasp of the idea, I still thought it was doable if we had a good structure to prevent chaos. And before you ask if Evie likes penguins, the answer is: yes, she does, but it's definitely penguin-themed because I like penguins and she lets me get away with it!
I asked Evie's favorite local musician if he would be willing to do a music class for 30 minutes. I was ecstatic when he said yes. If he could keep the kids busy for 30 minutes, that left 60 minutes to entertain them.
10:00 am Kids arrive and play in playroom in controlled chaos (controlled = parents watching them play)
10:30 am Music "class" starts--commence Jingle Bells, the theme from the Blob, some song with a One-Eyed, One-Horned Purple People-Eater, and other fan favorites from preschool
|Sorry you can't see Evie's cute classmates or her fun teacher. We love them so much.|
11:00 am Eat blue-frosted cupcakes and watch parents nicely try to prevent crumbs from getting on our rug. Realize that kids are starting to run around, and your friend Nancy starts making balloon animals at a frenzied pace. (Penguin theme, no problem, says Nancy!)
|Nancy's balloon extravaganza included penguins, swords, ninja and Hello Kitty balloons, and flowers!|
Here's what we learned from our experience:
Tip 1: Winter germs. Enough said. I still have PTSD from when she caught RSV and we spent 5 days in the hospital. And from the countless nights that she got sick and wouldn't eat, and threw up her g-tube feeds in the middle of the night. So this mama had no shame--I designed a quick sign and installed it with a little upside-down box with Purell on it.
Tip 2: Don't choose blue frosting because it looks like ice glaciers. Everyone gets blue beards and their hands get so messy. DO choose marshmallow penguins as your topper, because they are so cute, and their beaks and feet are lovingly hand-shaped from Starbursts by Auntie Kirsten.
Tip 3: Have really good friends and family who volunteer to come and help. Seriously, a big shoutout to her fairy godmothers Joy and Kirsten, her Auntie Nancy, and Uncle Ron, Aunt Cathy, and Auntie Liz! We would not have been able to pull it off so well without you!
Tip 4: When your sensory-sensitive kid is overwhelmed by all the people, ask for her favorite song to play so that she comes out of her shell.
Tip 5: Open the windows, because 30 something people in one room gets pretty hot.
Tip 6: Treat your friends to lunch so that they will help you clean up and make it look like a party never happened. (Did I mention I love you, my friends?)
Will I do this next year? Not sure. One factor is whether Evie will be able to walk by then and interact more with her environment. If you're the praying kind, we need prayers that she would gain confidence in standing and walking. I feel like one day she's just going to skip all that and start running, but for now, she still prefers to crawl and cruise.
Happy 4th birthday, Evie!!