Birthday Party Woes

So, I went to my daughter’s friend’s 6th Birthday party the other day and I find myself puzzled as to why we as parents continually put ourselves through this. Not that I hate birthday parties, but they all seem to operate the same way, and I can’t figure out why we all do it this way. I’ve been to over a dozen such birthday parties – children’s museum, bounce houses, pool party, splash pad, princess party, gym party, pizza party, and I’m sure a few more I can’t remember at the moment.

They all go the same way, a group of parents (usually just the moms and a few dads), most of whom do not know each other, all arrive at the designated party location. Every child present at the party knows the birthday child and usually knows a few of the other children so there’s a general mobbing/following of the birthday child as she plays because every child wants to play with her and they don’t know most of the other children.

The parents stand (or sit, if there happen to be seats) at the edges of the room and watch the kids play, if you’re lucky, you know one of the parents (other than the birthday child’s parents) at the party and you have someone to talk to, but over half of the room doesn’t know any one else at the party so you say hi to the person you happen to be standing next to, carry on a short awkward conversation about where your kid goes to school (I homeschool so my conversation usually ends with the other parent saying something about having a cousin or other distant relative that homeschools). Then you wait for an hour to an hour and a half while the kids play.

After playing the kids enter the party room and are served cake, icecream, and juiceboxes. Sometimes they even get pizza, chicken nuggets, or other snacks. Really nice hosts have over prepared and have enough food for the parents as well (which only half of the parents will eat because you feel awkward eating at a kids party). But, at most parties, the parents just sit (or stand) and watch as their kids eat.

Next, the birthday child opens presents – which are generally all toys, with lots of admonitions from parents telling their kids to back up and give the birthday child space. Your child receives a goody bag (full of candy and other small objects that will soon be lost or destroyed) and you go home.

Now, what I can’t figure out is why we do this to ourselves multiple times a year. First of all, why do we all stand by bored as can be and watch our kids play for over an hour? You’d think someone would have something for the parents to do. Second, why is there never any food for the parents – we’ve been there just as long as the kids and I’m always hungry come cake time. Usually if the host family provides the food there is food for the parents but if the food is catered by the party place then there is only food for the kids, you’d think they would provide something for the parents as well.  Third, why do we always purchase toys for other children – I dread all the toys my children receive on their birthdays, I never have room to fit them all, and yet I always buy toys (and so does everyone else).

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good party, but it just seems like there must be a better way to do kids parties instead of putting ourselves through this over and over.

My Disney Side Party

Thanks to Disney Side @Home Celebrations for my awesome box of party supplies for my #Disneyside party! With all these snow days we’ve just been off of our schedule for weeks, so I decided to keep it simple and do a playdate. Actually, I did a playdate and a pre-playdate the night before plus a few other random things throughout the week.

The first evening we had some friends over and the kids played the disney bingo and won prizes from our Disney prize bag – I used the stickers, balloons, bracelets, tatoos, and bumper stickers. A couple of the kids that were going to come ended up not being able to come as planned but we still had a great time! We had spaghetti for dinner and monster cupcakes in our Mickey Mouse cupcake wrappers.

The next morning we had our playdate. There were 6 kids total, we decorated T-shirts, played Disney bingo, colored our race posters, ate more cupcakes, and let the kids play.

I had traced mickey and minnie pictures onto the shirts before the party so all the kids (or moms) had to do was color them in. We all had a blast! I think the moms had more fun than the kids did coloring!

I don’t have a color printer or a photo printer so I gave away all the photo card paper at the party, and it’ll definitely get used. People were pretty excited to get to print their own pictures!

Only a few of the kids wanted posters so I had a few posters left over after the party that I sent to my sisters for Valentines day.

The next day me and the kids made our Mickey Mouse cookies and shared them with some friends we had over. The cookies turned out great and the kids had a great time decorating them! I finally figured out a good sugar cookie icing recipe (water, powdered sugar, and food coloring – when it dries you can stack the cookies without the icing sticking) so now I just need to nail down a good sugar cookie recipe. My recipe was ok but I’ve had better.

We’ve had so much fun showing our #DisneySide with our Disney @Home Celebration box!

If you Give a Pig a Party

Hopefully everyone is familiar with the children’s book “If you Give a Pig a Party“. If not, you’ve probably heard of  “If you Give a Pig a Pancake“, it’s by the same author and has the same basic story. We acquired it in a Chick-fil-a kid’s meal one day and I can now quote the book (and probably draw you all the pictures) by memory. Basically, the premise is if you give a pig one thing, he wants something else, if you give him something else, he was something else again, and on and on.

There are just some things in life that I do that remind me so much of this book. And it’s frustrating and amusing all at the same time.

For example, my 5yr old had been asking for a pet for ages, and my husband kept talking about getting fish or a bird, so, one day at a yard sale I picked up a 10 gallon fish tank for $5. It had colored pebbles and lots of little rocks and accessories. My husband is all excited, we clean it, and he sets it up. About $100 later we have all the right filters, lights, etc. and my 5 yr old dutifully feeds the fish every morning.

We have 3 guppies, two males and one female. So…the female has babies, at least 30 babies. That’s a LOT of babies for a 10 gallon tank.

So, we get a 55 gallon tank and my husband and his brother build a cabinet (which still doesn’t have doors – so the baby gets into it all the time) for the fishtank. So, we fill up the fishtank and $200 later we have mostly the right lights, filters, bubbles, plants, and fish.

We let the tank sit for a few days then my husband starts moving fish from the small tank to the big one, the small fish tank was supposed to be put away before our Christmas party (which was a week and a half before Christmas). Well…both fish tanks are still up. The larger tank has an algae problem so he can’t move all the fish just in case they start dying. Which, we’ve lost a few fish, but we have over 10 guppies still so I’m really not at all worried about them. They’ll probably be having more babies soon… The moral of a story, don’t buy a fishtank!

Or, once my kids discovered their first barbies and polly pockets it just snowballed from there. They also discovered that said toys can be easily acquired at yard sales and Goodwill. Now, they have a room full of them! To be fair, they do play with them every day so it’s not a huge deal, but I am beginning to think that I should get rid of all the rest of their toys so they have more room for their dolls. Never buy that first barbie for a girl who loves pink, dresses, and lace unless you really want your house to be overrun by them!

Oh! and, my husband has recently discovered the fun of purchasing items on Craigslist. He purchased a copy of Rocksmith and decided he needed a guitar. He purchased 3 guitars on Craigslist (sold one of them so we’re down to two). How does Craigslist work at my house? I sell things and he buys things. I think we come out even in the end. Actually, hopefully, one of these days I’ll get around to trying out the game myself!

None of this stuff is bad, I’m glad the kids have their toys and my husband has his hobbies, just some days, I wish it all took up less space in my house!

Disney Side

I’m so excited! I received a bunch of free products from Disney Side @Home Celebrations to host my own #Disneyside party!

First of all, people started getting their boxes weeks ago. And these boxes had some awesome stuff in them! So, I was eagerly awaiting mine. Well, it was scheduled to be delivered Tuesday. And guess what happened Tuesday? Snow, enough snow that UPS didn’t deliver. So, I had to wait till Wednesday. Very impatiently wait, I might add.

Here’s a bunch of party supplies, Mickey Mouse themed plates, cups, napkins, cookie cutters, table cloth, bracelets, stickers and tattoos, banners, and craisins. There is also Disney bingo, Disney posters, HP Photo card packs, Disney vacation planning DVD, measuring cups, recipe cards, and Hanes white t-shirts with fabric markers.

And, a very special hostess gift. An American Tourister suitcase and Mickey Mouse luggage tag. I saw pictures of other’s suitcases and some were getting black with red, pink, and green. I’m not a pink or green suitcase person so I was really hoping for the black and red. Which is exactly what I got. WooHoo! I’ve really been needing some new luggage and I’ve honestly never owned a piece of luggage quite this nice before. Now, I just need to plan a trip…

Back to the party, my kids are so excited! I told them we would have a playdate with friends and we can decorate t-shirts and cookies and have disney themed snacks. I haven’t planned out my menu yet but expect pictures of whatever I come up with!

Thanks again to Disney Parks and MomSelect for all this awesome Disney party stuff!

Private Selection Party Foods

I just loved this bzz campaign! You can go to bzzagent’s website to get into your own campaigns. I got to try all sorts of fun tasty foods from this campaign! My holiday party is coming up next week and I’m looking forward to serving some of Private Selection’s products to my guests.

1. Greek yogurt – this yogurt had the little fruit cup on the side. It’s mine and my 4yr old’s favorite yogurt style. My favorite flavor is honey. Though, I am picky about which brand of greek yogurt I’ll eat. I was a little worried trying this since I generally only like name brand greek yogurts. I was really surprised. The private selection yogurt was delicious! We tried the cranberry and the strawberry yogurt. (I had coupons for 3 yogurts). I’m definitely buying these again.

Though, I do wish they had a variety with honey, since this is my favorite flavor. If Private Selection had a honey greek yogurt I’d be buying it every time I was at Kroger. I also don’t know of a good way to serve this at a party but I’m more than happy to tell my guests how much I liked it 🙂

2. Deli Cheese – I tried the smoked gouda and it was really good. I think the cheese is a little pricey, however, they have unique flavors. I love serving cheese when I host a holiday party! I usually do a cheese tray with 4 to 5 different cheeses and crackers. Private selection has some unique cheeses that aren’t really that expensive if you want something more than just swiss, american, or cheddar. I’m adding at least one Private Selection cheese to my cheese tray this year because it’ll give me some fun variety!

3. Crackers – I got to try the Classic Water Crisps. I loved the idea picture on the front of the box and it’s the cracker I’m designating for the soft cheese on my cheese tray. I’m going with a sharp cheddar cheese ball because I like the strong cheese with the mild cracker.

4. Coffee – Not as good as the coffee from the Green Mountain Coffee campaign that I had last month, but it’s still pretty tasty. Though the package in my bzzkit was a regular coffee and I probably won’t serve it to my guests in the evening, I’ll go try one of the decaffeinated varieties so I don’t keep anyone up all night.

5. Olives – I just love their olives! I like olives anyways but Private Selection olives are my new favorite. I tried the mixed olive jar just to see what I thought of them and they have the perfect olive taste and texture! I’ll get one of the stuffed olives for my party so guests don’t have to spit out pits. These olives are going to taste great with hummus, crackers, and my cheese tray! (or just on their own)

I’ll post pictures of my party, all our food, and our fun food creations next week. (if I remember to take pictures during the party)

Superbowl Party

I’m a casual football fan, I enjoy sitting on the couch Sunday afternoon and watching football but I honestly don’t care which team wins. I’ll cheer for whatever team my husband picks.

For me, the best part of football is the opportunity to get people together and spend some time with friends and family. Even if that time is spend yelling at the TV!

That said, I always look forward to the superbowl. It’s late enough the baby goes to bed right after it starts and I can enjoy the game with everyone. And enjoy tasty football snacks!

My favorite snacks:

1. Chili Cheese dip – 1 can of beanless chili and half a container of velveeta cheese, melted and mixed together
2. Pizza rolls – canned pizza dough, with pepperoni, Parmesan cheese, spices, and mozzarella, rolled into a log then baked and cut into rounds.
3. Chicken wings – frozen from a bag
4. Veggie tray – just to balance out all this unhealthy food.

Graham Cracker Houses

My husband had a great Christmas idea four years ago. This is the fourth year we’ve done it and we always have a blast! Instead of gingerbread houses – which are a lot of work – we make graham cracker houses.

We invite a bunch of friends over and make graham cracker houses. This year, I assembled the houses earlier in the day so they were set before the party and kids trying to put candy on them. It worked out really well.

Graham cracker houses are really easy, and a great holiday party idea if you have kids (or if you just like playing with candy and icing)

My house. I actually did this the day after the party before I cleaned everything up. The trick to a good house (in my opinion) is the icing. It’s just powdered sugar and water, and you want it to be thick enough that it doesn’t run but thin enough that you can pipe it. I put my icing in a plastic bag, cut a hole in the end, (a very tiny hole) and pipe the icing out so I have good control over where it goes.

Side of my house

My 3yr old’s “house”. It looks like a tent to me. She made two other houses as well. The party this year was so much fun for her and her little friends! I just handed them bowls of icing with spoons in them, piles of candy, and let them have at it.

And, a melting house. This batch of icing was a tad thin and ended up slipping but I think it looks pretty cool!

And, as a plus, these houses are just as much fun to eat as they are to make!

House Party!

If you’re not familiar with House Party, you should check it out!

I’ve done several parties and I love the great stuff I receive in my party packs. My latest party, which I’m hosting in a couple of weeks – you invite friends over for a party – is for Philadelphia Cooking Creme.

I received 4 coupons for free Cooking Creme, an oven mitt, and a really nice skillet. And for my guests, I have coupons for Cooking Creme, wooden spoons, magnets, and scratch pads.

I can’t wait to try out the Cooking Creme, and my new pan!