The greatest challenge about Pippipalooza is that it happens in February. If it were in June, we could have a her party at a park or the pool. But those of you with winter babies know the dilemma of needing to celebrate indoors – pay too much to host a party at some (probably inflatable) venue or risk hosting too many preschoolers in your own home.
Last year we found an indoor city pool that was pretty inexpensive, but this year I decided we could host the party at our house. Seemed like it would cost less than going to a party place, but I could keep the planning to a minimum so that it wouldn’t be too much work. We chose a Rock Star Dance Party theme to incorporate things that Pippi loves best: singing, dancing and dressing up.
Today I will share with you the plan. Tomorrow, I’ll write about what happens when, like most plans of mice and men and moms of preschoolers, those plans do often go awry. For those of you looking for party ideas for kids, read on. For those just looking for the blooper reel, be patient – it’s coming.
I tackled the planning like a good old lesson plan from my teaching days – get organized ahead of time and keep everyone busy during the event to minimize disasters. There were essentially five parts to my plan:
To set the tone, we renamed our house “Rock Star Studio.” I used Crayola glass markers (who knew such a thing existed) to decorate the front door with our new name.
In the family room, we pushed the sofa out of the way and rolled up the rug to make a big open dance floor. My husband graciously blew up balloons in all colors and sizes to bounce around the room and we covered the fireplace with a “shimmer wall” made from metallic and glitter scrapbook background tiles (easier than a disco ball, but the same effect).
Off to the side of the dining room, I stacked the clean table cloth, napkins, paper plates and plastic forks – all matching the adorable Tiny Prints invitations we’d sent. Not that the kids cared, but it made me happy to see them all together with the bright pink tulips Pippi got from her daddy for her birthday.
Another mom who is wiser than I am hosted her daughter’s 4th birthday party a couple weeks ago. I learned from her that I would need several crafty projects to keep the kids busy because some of them work really fast (translation: sticker, sticker, and I’m done).
We started by letting the kids decorate their own gift bags – I’d already written their names on paper lunch sacks, then they customized their bags using the mounds of stickers, sticky gems, crayons, colored pencils, ribbon pieces and glitter glue on the table.
Next we handed them a printed outline of a rock star (in pants for the boys, in a skirt for the girls) so they could color it before we taped it around an empty toilet paper roll.
Meanwhile, my husband took a photo of each kid on the way in and was upstairs printing the photos to cut out and glue in place of the outline face. Instant (hilarious) personalized rock star puppets.
Then we let them decorate the item every rock star needs: a microphone. These mics are actually mini lint rollers (2 for $1) wrapped in black construction paper -- so a project for the kid that becomes a useful tool for the parents later on. Win-win!
And finally, it's just not a rock star party without a way to make some noise. So we filled plastic eggs with dried beans, decorated the outside and voila -- maraca!
As the kids completed their crafty projects, we ushered them into the family room to dress up for the dancing.
Once we got them all rocked up, we cranked up the kid-friendly, parent-approved tunes to play dancing games. Started with the crowd favorite Freeze Dance, followed by a kinder-gentler twist on Musical Chairs where they passed around some jingle bells until the music stopped. The kid holding the bells was out, but got a piece candy -- and repeat, until all the kids are out. We wrapped up with a free dance to get everyone good and sweaty before cake.
I made my first birthday cake for Junius last year, so I figured I could pull it off again for Pippi. I'm not much of a baker/cake decorator, so I opted to use Polly Pocket dolls to stage a rock band on a confetti stage. And thanks to my brilliant husband, who outfitted two of the Pollys with custom (cardboard) electric guitars.
After we filled them up with cake and juice boxes, we packed all their crafts and sunglasses into the decorated gift bags -- plus a mix CD of some of Pippi's favorite tunes.
And then they all went home.