Daniel's Big Day

When Emily turned five, we threw her first “friends invited” birthday party, so this year when Daniel was turning five we figured we should probably do the same for him.

The problem was, I was not overly excited about throwing a birthday party. We’d been in home improvement land for several months, and I just didn’t have the desire to do anything like that. “I don’t see what the big deal is,” Tim said. “Just keep it simple.”

I thought that was very easy for him to say, since it would basically be all me doing the work. And he obviously had no clue about what is needed when planning a party for 5 year olds: It is never “just something simple.” Something that sounds simple, like having 7 kids over for a nice quiet home party, is actually the very opposite of simple because one needs to plan for each and every contingency that could possibly happen as long as the 5 year old are in the house. Every second needs to be planned out with an activity, and back up activities are needed in case the planned ones don’t work for some reason. The last thing a person wants is a handful of preschoolers running around the house with nothing to do. I tried to explain this, but I don’t think he really believed me. “Just keep it simple,” he said again.

Okay. Simple. Well, first of all, the guest list gave me problems. I had wanted to keep it to 5 kids so that it would be 7 with mine included. But then I ran into difficulties of “If I invite so-and-so’s kids then I have to invite these other kids too or their parents will think that we don’t like them.” If I invite the two kids on the block Daniel always plays with, will the only other family with that age kids on the street feel slighted, even though Daniel’s only played with them a couple times? If they see the other two kids coming will that be bad? If I invite one kid from our life group, do I have to invite them all? What about school? There’s no way I’m inviting all 18 of them, but if I invite the ones Daniel knows more will that make problems? Before I knew it the list had mushroomed to 12, and most of them were invited for the parents’ sake rather than because Daniel was friends with the kids. It was ridiculous.

I sent out 10 invitations eventually, keeping the ones for the kids across the street aside, thinking I’d give them to them if it turned out a lot of people were declining and just hope for the best if not. So I hoped that of those 10 maybe at LEAST 3 wouldn’t be able to come, hopefully more. It was the day after halloween, and maybe parents wouldn’t want any more activities on that weekend.

I was wrong. Only one person couldn’t come, leaving me with 9 friends and a grand total of 11 kids including my own.

Simple. Yeah, that wasn’t happening.

So I resigned myself to the necessity of planning and got to it.

I won’t bore you with the details of all that I did, but suffice it to say that it was very thoroughly planned and that my back up activity actually was needed and I was very glad I had it. We had two crafts, three games, and a story (and of course food for kids and adults, since all the parents came) and presents. And a most grand dinosaur cupcake cake that I made myself and was exceptionally proud of. (Pictures of this accomplishment are below.) It lasted for two hours and the parents all said I should hire myself out as a party planner. I said that that wasn’t happening, and that there was a reason this was only the second party we’d done in the family. Of course, now Emily is desperate for another “friend” party and I told her that I’d do one for her when she turns 8 in the summer, a promise I’m sure I’ll regret in about half a year.

But, here are the pictures from the day, as well as ones from Tuesday (election day!) which was his actual birthday. TIm’s parents and sister and kids came and celebrated with us as a family, and quite frankly, it was a much nicer day than Saturday had been, at least in my estimation. And I hope that, though the pomp and circumstance of grand parties like the one on Saturday are currently much more exciting to the children, that one day they’ll also see the joy and beauty of simply spending the day with the people who love us best in the world and having that be a present in and of itself.


The kids all got dinosaur masks as they came in and sat down to decorate their goodie bags with stamps and stickers while we waited for everyone to arrive.

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Some of the “decorations.” We had inflatable dinos that we put around the room and hung green streamers around them to make it look like they were in the jungle. They actually looked much better in person when you saw them all at once, and with the table. Really, it did! It kind of looks lame in the pictures, though.
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As the kids finished with their bags, they went outside to hunt for “dino eggs” in the yard and play until everyone was done. There was one egg per child, and each egg had a number on it that determined the order they went in for Pin the Tail on the Dino. The dino was actually a pin the tail on the donkey that we had from Emily’s party, but we printed out a dinosaur head and taped it over the donkey head and called it a “Donkeysaurus.” The kids all thought we were hillarious, which is something, I suppose!
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Then back inside to play “Hot Dinosaur,” which was basically hot potato with a dinosaur. Except the dinosaur I was going to use was lost, so we ended up using a Welsh Dragon that my Welsh friend Joy brought us one year when she visited instead. Close enough, I figured. Only the winner thought he got to keep the dragon and was upset when I took it away from him. Oh well. Get used to disappointment, kid!
Then they all sat down to make dinosaur paper bag puppets. They later used the puppets to act out a dinosaur story I read to them.

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One of my prouder accomplishments of the day was my dinosaur cupcake cake. It took me hours to figure out how to arrange the cupcakes to look like a dino head, and then I put one on top for an eye and put the candles in it so that it looked like it was a glowing eye. Candy corn was the teeth. All homemade, of course, because anyone who knows me knows I’m a horrible food snob.
I should also mention here that Daniel wanted to bring cupcakes to school on Monday (since there was no school on his birthday since it was election day). And since Emily never gets to bring cupcakes to school since her birthday is in the summer, and apparently other kids have brought cupcakes in for siblings’ birthdays, Emily wanted to bring some too. So I spent Sunday baking tons of cupcakes, one batch of which burned and needed to be redone. I was entirely cupcaked out by the end of the weekend.
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These are from the family party on his actual birthday on November 4. We had neither cake nor cupcakes, for reasons stated above. I just couldn’t do it. We made ice cream instead.
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The “big gift” was a big boy two wheeler bike. We got Emily a bike on her fifth birthday too, so it seemed appropriate. We didn’t put it together ahead of time because Daniel is addicted to “helping” Daddy with his projects, so we knew he’d be all over helping put the bike together. He was. Daddy wasn’t so much.
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