And she still rocks. I can't believe I didn't post about her fairy princess themed birthday on the 11th.
We invited 25 people or so, which clearly put it in the realm of adult party, since the kids are usually totally happy with one or two friends. I took the lazy way out and had Homestead Mama grill hotdogs and hamburgers. We also used the opportunity to get a pepperoni log out of the freezer and consumed by people other than me. Auntie Kiko was a big fan. There was milling about and eating for 90 minutes, and then we tried to host an activity - this was the first time we've done anything but open play. I've been wanting to try a treasure hunt since reading about it on Kate's blog, but worried it would be too much for the kids. It was a HUGE hit, and totally within the kid's abilities. I was so busy with party prep and house cleaning and epic cake baking that I really rushed the treasure hunt prep, but basically I had Grandpa print out several pictures that I'd taken of memorable landmarks in our yard. I sent Grandma outside the morning of the party to hang each one in the appropriate place attached to a balloon for easy discovery by 3 year olds. I brought them all outside and squatted down with a ballooned picture of the swing set and said that fairies had brought special treats for each child, but we were going to have to find them because the fairies were tricksters. The kids were pretty jazzed up; my kids had home court advantage and led the merry band off to the swing set. Very quickly the kids got into it and a couple front runners emerged. Jonas, in the pink, partnered with Pequita and the two of them tore it up. We hid five clues, so the kids ran all over an acre of yard visiting the fire pit, hammock, raised bed garden and ending up back at the front door where the fairies had left a basket of gift bags for them all. One sweet 3-year old said that he was coming back the next day to do this again, so I'm taking that as an unbridled success. Best of all is that they are clearly ready for organized thinking activity, which means I'm unpacking all the games I've been collecting since before they were born. My sister had a pirate treasure hunt in her tiny house in Boston a few months ago, and since they didn't have all the acreage to run on the kids had to do a physical activity at each clue location, like jump up and down 40 times or do a somersault. I can see adding letter and number components too, as the kids start digging mental Olympics. I think that increasing the number of clues and adding physical or artsy activities at each checkpoint would keep this game going in high joy mode. We'll definitely be making more clue cards and bringing this indoors over the winter.
The bags were a big hit. I prefer to sugar up my kids as little as possible, and also like to give away things we like to play with. This means that I always end up adding a craft or twelve to my pre-birthday to-do list. Each kid received an elf and a wand that Grandma and I made the night before (yay, glue gun!) a book of tattoos, a sticker activity sheet, and a pumpkin shaped bottle of bubbles. Many of the components were from the dollar store; I bought plain wooden wands in April and set them aside for Pequita's birthday; a little shiny ribbon and a gem and they were transformed. The wooden elf forms are from my favorite wood piece supply store and a simple bit of felt and more glue gun = very sweet toy in seconds. Proper elf capes & hats should be hand sewn, but whatever.
We then retired back inside for chocolate castle cake. Sadly, the tin foil makes it hard to see the glory of the cake, but it was a hit. I had much bigger and better construction with multiple colors in mind, but by 11:30 the night before the party, I decided it was done with just a crumb coat of chocolate butter cream. (Hint: you can't tell its a crumb coat if you have chocolate on chocolate. Also, toddlers don't care.) It was a recipe out of a Moosewood cookbook, of all places, and it was fantastic. Those vegetarians sure like their sweets. As always, once the birthday kid blows out their candles and makes a wish, I relight them for each kid who wants to have a go. They love this, and it makes everyone happy.
We spent three days opening presents one or two at a time, so the birthday lasted all weekend. Sigh. I love parties.