Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Fling

I beamed when Monkey recently asked me, "Mommy, what's the deal with our spring fling this year?"  I relished holiday traditions as a child and prioritize creating healthy ones with my own family.

I love that the Spring Fling 
has become a tradition to my oldest!

This tradition started for Monkey's second Easter.  We had recently moved from Dallas, and some friends brought their toddler down for the weekend for an egg hunt.  It was so much fun to have another family to egg hunt with (especially since we only had one kiddo in our family at that time) that when they couldn't make it the next year, I decided to host one for my MOMS club.  Four years later, we are still hosting a spring fling, though the guest list has evolved.  I find that as our families grow, we can accommodate fewer families at one time.  What a wonderful problem to have!

Here's how to put together your own Spring Fling, with very little effort and time, resulting in cherished memories

  1. Choose a date/time- We usually have an afternoon hunt, followed by a potluck dinner.  I love this time for parties right now.  It allows for playtime with friends (outside while the weather is awesome), dinner, and then BED for the kids.  Having my kiddos go straight to bed-or soon after-a party eases my clean-up.  I can quickly tidy-up while Daddy is doing bedtime routine (or vice-versa) and then the adults can relax and visit without having to dread an impending mess.  This is especially helpful if you have guests staying with you.  While your guests are getting settled for the evening, you can straighten up and be ready to resume entertaining.
  2. Invite guests- For this type of party, you really don't need a formal paper invite.  Go easy on your budget and the trees and send an email or evite.  With my friends, I like to send out an email.  I usually send out a quick save the date early on and then follow up with details later.
  3. Plan the activities/make to do list- We usually have the egg hunt as soon as everyone arrives, feed the kiddos, and then have a relaxing dinner over conversation while the kids continue to play.  My timeline and to do list look something like this:
5:00pm  Guests start arriving.  Potluck dishes are arranged in the kitchen, while the kids play in the playroom. (The backyard is usually off limits because the eggs have been pre-hidden).

5:20  As soon as all the guests have arrived, the kids are let loose in the backyard to find their 12 eggs.  I usually ask guests to drop off 12 stuffed eggs, per child, the day before the hunt.  Each child goes home with 12 eggs.  This makes hosting so much easier for me (I already have to stuff a ton-o-eggs for my neighborhood hunt), and the kids love the variety that comes in the eggs.  I feel fine asking this small group of friends to contribute this way, but I'm not sure I'd do this for a bigger group of acquaintances.  Of course, our rule is to stuff with something other than candy.  If your child is very young, and counting to 12 is tricky, you could give them a clean, empty egg carton to fill.  When each slot is full, they have their 12 eggs!

5:40  Feed the children.  I love feeding them outside.  This is one of the few occasions I use disposable dinnerware.  I love this compostable type.  You can often find it on sale, but I like to get it wholesale from my local Frontier co-op.

6:00 The adults sit down and eat.  Woo hoo!  Of course, we've all been munching the entire time.

6:30  Let them eat CAKE.  I love that my group is not sweets centered.  We are all cognizant of the effect of sugar on little ones (and ourselves!) so when I ask everyone to bring a dish, I know it will be a whole food item.  This year, my family is providing the main dish (a brisket) and the guests are asked to bring a side.  In my circle, side dishes are not code words for heavy starches but for VEGGIES and FRUITS.  Ah, I love my friends!  If you want to try to ease your way into a more nutritious potluck (this didn't happen for any of us overnight, try making a sign up list for the potluck that lists: protein, vegetable, grain, or fruit).  It is a party, so I think one sweet is NECESSARY!  This year I am making cupcakes.  I like to make my own because I can control the ingredients.  Squeaker has a sensitivity to wheat, so I make mine with brown rice flour.   Because this party is late in the day, I also plan to sneak in a little protein powder and walnuts-which will help counteract the sugar.  Dr. Sears states:  Adding protein to a high- sugar meal mellows out the behavioral and learning deterioration. 

I plan to make flower cupcakes, similar to the ones in the top left corner of the picture above.  I adore these Vitamin C Lolipops and plan to use them as the flowers.  I buy these in bulk from a co-op so I can have them on hand for those times when I have to send a treat to school (parties, etc.).  I love that they use natural dyes and have vitamin C in them!

7:00 Goodbyes and Bedtime

Easy peasy and super fun!  

To Do List:

  • Invite guests; mention the 12 stuffed eggs per child
  • Stuff 24 eggs for my kiddos
  • Put out Spring decor
  • Straighten house
  • Make cupcakes
  • Make brisket
  • Buy mini-water bottles and adult beverages
  • Make spring water bottle labels for kids
  • Clear space for potluck dishes, and set out extra serving pieces
  • Set the kiddie table with Spring decor
  • Buy potted flowers for decor
  • Power wash house (what a great excuse and deadline to get it done!) and mulch flower beds
What are your Spring traditions?

Monday, March 28, 2011

How about a BARBIE Fashion Fairytale Party?

My friend Kari just threw the most adorable party for her 5 year old little girl.

When she asked the bday girl what she wanted to do for her birthday, the answer was 
Not being very into Barbie these days, I had no idea what she was talking about.  Luckily, every girl knows how to have a fashion show!  I had so much time brainstorming this party with Kari.  

She and her husband Mark made this a party her little one will never forget!  Every detail was perfect and the birthday girl relished in it all.

Here's the scoop on how it went down:


Mark made a real, red-carpeted runway for the kiddos to walk down and model their fashions.  

He also attached a disco ball to the ceiling that was a huge hit with the kids.  They loved dancing in the "falling sparkles."  A disco ball is a FABULOUS investment!  I bought mine at a resale shop, with a bag of strobe lights included, and have used it for dance, 90210, and Michael Jackson parties.  They are such an easy way to add festivity to any theme.  Keep you eye out for one (unless you are a friend of mine IRL, because I love to share!) and snatch it up if you see one.

Mark and Kari also made a curtain out of  plastic tablecloths that served to separate the runway from the dressing room.  They hung them on pvc pipe that hung from ceiling hooks.  

Which leads us to the action spot.  On the other side of the curtains, every little girl's fantasy came true (the two little boys there seemed to be enthralled as well).  Kari used a clothes rod that she had on hand.  She took the extenders out and, voilĂ ! a kids sized rod held all the dress up clothes perfectly!  We used a coffee table, end tables, and trunks to display all the accessories.  There were tiaras, tons of beads (leftover from MARDI GRAS), hats, purses, feather boas, and shoes lined against the wall.  The kids couldn't wait to dive in and start dressing.


11:00 am 

The kiddos arrived and decorated sashes (we used 3" ribbon) with fabric markers.  We had glued them the night before and the glue wasn't dry, so we ended up stapling them which worked fine.  The fabric markers didn't show up very well on the ribbons, but the kids didn't seem to notice.  They decorated to their heart's content.  If you decide to do sashes, I would suggest using chart paper and washable markers or ribbon and glitter paint pens (this will be messy and probably won't dry quickly but would be very fancy!).


The kids dressed up and had makeup done.  The makeup was a very subtle pink blush, put on with cotton swabs and a pink lip gloss put on with fingers or qtips.  Even though the makeup was almost invisible, the kids got a hug kick out of it!  Win/Win in my book!  I love stations at parties.  If you have stations, like a make up station, or a decorate your own stash station, it's very helpful to ask a friend or relative beforehand to man that station.  When you are hosting, I find it's not very practical to expect to be able to oversee an activity.  It works better for me to have people (thanks Sara and Bridget!!) that will do that for you, so you can mingle and play hostess.


The kids strutted and twirled down the runway to a special playlist Kari created, including Katy Perry's "Firecracker" and Ru Paul's "I Want To Be A Super Model."  It was so cute to watch how much fun they had.  Kari and Mark had a karaoke machine hooked up to the TV, so the runway was also viewable on the TV and the kids loved watching themselves.  Kari used the mic to introduce each model.


Most kids wandered into the playroom for some free play while we cleaned the leftover accessories off the tables and set up for pizza.  Then it was PIZZA time.


The kiddos drifted back for some more free play while we cleared the tables again in prep for cake.  We have such a great group of friends who all helped clear and keep an eye on the kiddos.  I hope you have these types of friends at all your parties!  If no one offers, don't be afraid to ask someone to clear the plates and cups as kiddos finish.  I find that guests are often eager to help, especially moms at a child's party.


CAKE and ice cream


More free play while the adults cleared the cake to prep for opening gifts.  For a kiddos party, it works well to have a designated space for free play in between activities.  I remember when, for a Fancy Nancy party,  I had cleared all the toys out of the playroom (packing them away in closets) to make space for an elaborate dinner table arrangement for the kids.  We had stations for nails, hair, make your own perfume, and necklace making for the girls to rotate through.  Once everyone had finished getting fancy, and had enjoyed eating their petit fours and parfaits, a little girl walked up to me and said "We've had so much fun.  Now all that's left to do is play.  Where are the toys?"  Lesson learned!  Since then, I try to leave some toys out for free play.


Gifts were opened.  We usually don't open gifts at our parties, but it really does seem to be a hit.  The kids were mesmerized watching each package being opened.


Favors and goodbyes

What a Fashionably Fun party.  Now to sleep off my cake-induced coma!