What he wants – What she wants
For the second year in a row, I’ve struggled with combining the birthdays of my children. Toddler boy turned three in late-August and Kindergarten girl turned six in early-September. With their birthdays less than two weeks apart, they (and I) have known all along they would have a joint party. They love each other. They share the same friends. They both love cake and ice cream. Should be simple, right? Nooooo.
I have known for months that toddler boy would want Thomas the Train for his party theme. Kindergarten girl’s themes went in an order something like this: ABCs (since she’s learning to read), Ponies, Butterflies, How to Train Your Dragon, NOT Hello Kitty, and, and, and…
Last year I chose a rainbow theme birthday party to connect their love of Disney’s Cars and Fairies, but I was truly stumped with an idea for this year. In late spring, we hosted a “movies on the patio” playdate with friends and that got me thinking that I could connect just about any two things with a movie-themed party. From there, the planning was much easier.
After deciding upon a movie theme, Kindergarten girl picked “Cats and Dogs” to represent her interests and I ordered the movie posters right away. I wanted them to greet guests as they walked the red carpet. Despite that, the Thomas poster didn’t arrive in time for the party, so guests walked the red carpet sans posters. But don’t they look lovely?
Because our guests ranged from toddler to elementary school age, I kept the activities simple.
Guess How Much Movie Candy in the Jar
Many of our guests are emerging readers, writers and learning new math concepts in their classrooms. I wanted to take advantage of that by having them estimate how much movie candy was in each of several jars and record their findings. The closest guess for each container won the entire canister of candy…great incentive for kids and adults alike! For the preschool set, I had a special small jar of Dots prepared for them to estimate. After spending much time with the jar counting, we had a three-year-old guess the exact number! And toddler boy won a jar by guessing “95″ for everything (there were 80 Twizzlers in the jar and his guess was closest). In case you didn’t make the connection, 95 is Lightening McQueen’s number.
Another driving force behind the movie theme was the fact that I had props, including the red carpet and a movie camera piñata, left over from an Oscar-themed party The Shopping Mama conducted for Redbox several seasons ago. To fill the piñata, I shunned the usual candy route. Because we were having pizza and a movie at dusk in the back yard, I filled the piñata with glow sticks and glow bracelets. As the children beat the piñata, many of the glow sticks were activated and shining when the contents came out. And were they a hit!
The glow stick love continued through bath time and into bed.
I made cupcakes on each child’s birthday, therefore I made the party cake to reflect the movie theme rather than Thomas or Cats and Dogs. A box of popcorn seemed the obvious choice and was so much fun to make. I am a firm believer that a cake should, above all, taste good. So for me, fondant and tons of dye were not options. I had to accomplish my cake goals with buttercream and small amounts of sprinkles and natural food coloring. To add kernels to the popcorn, I did use some yellow nonpariels.
What’s a movie-themed party without a movie screening? We set up a projector and hung a sheet across the back of the house for the older kids to view Cats and Dogs. The toddler set was inside watching Day of the Diesels with Thomas. To be honest, there were moments of viewing, but there was lots of running around playing with glow sticks and burning off cake sugar.
As guests departed, we asked them to make their own goodie bags. I set out boxes of movie candy and toys and asked them to take one of each to put in their popcorn bag. Toys included plush cats and dogs and train whistles from Oriental Trading as well as actual Thomas trains I scored in an eBay auction. We had some very happy, tired departing guests.
I’m so glad to have conquered this year’s challenge of combining the loves of both my kiddos. However, I do need a significant rest before next year. I don’t know how some parents plan more than one of these per year!