We threw a BBQ for a small group of friends this past Saturday to celebrate Oscar’s third birthday. I almost didn’t throw the party as I was plagued with self doubt about what to do and overwhelmed with seeing really detailed parties online. I finally realized
I didn’t have to do anything – all Oscar wanted to do was play with his friends, and have some balloons. So I went with that.
My Mom had given me some advice a few years ago with regards to setting up traditions with children. Although I forget her exact phraseology, the underlying advice was to be careful at what you do for an event, as you’ll have to keep that up year after year with kids. I think the advice was originally was a reference to Christmas traditions (and Santa) but I’ve applied that same philosophy to other traditions over here.
I decided to throw a super low key BBQ. I think sometimes we all get intimidated because of the explosion of Pinterest and people show off these amazing parties – and the parties that are low key just get forgotten. Or maybe they aren’t forgotten – they just aren’t blogged about. 😉 Read more after the jump.
Invitations : Although I own a stationery company and believe that most events are worthy of a printed invitations in this case I knew that it was going to set the wrong tone for this party. I wanted it to be REALLY low key. So I sent out an e-mail to some of Oscar’s closest friends (well, their Mom’s) and invited them, and their entire family including siblings over for a “really low key birthday BBQ.” I think I may have said “really low key” a few times in the e-mail. We had to keep the guest list pretty small considering we were inviting the entire family, so I kept it to Oscar’s friends he sees weekly for play-dates and his friend that he has known since being born.
The party started at 4pm
– This was a perfect time because it was after naps, and pre-dinner. The perfect time for playtime, dinner, dessert, and then let the kids run around a lot to get them really tiered for bedtime. 🙂 The kids played together, danced away to music on my brother’s boombox and the parents got to hang out and have wine/beer … everyone had a great time.
Activities. Nothing was structured, things were just around the backyard for kids to do. But I did have some games that the kids could play and occasionally I’d come around with a bucket of prizes – As a kid I looooooved prizes. I picked up a few different sets of prizes from the dollar store and put them in a big glass container. Kids tossed beanbags into the bean bag game (shown above) and if you got one in, you got a prize. That bean bag game was from the Dollar Store (it was $20). It was a little hard to get the bags in but you could do the same game with pails/buckets. It was a huge hit as the kids wanted to collect all of the different prizes. The 3 year olds were less interested but the older siblings were having fun with this.
For the rest of the activities I had nothing really planned. I figured the’d have fun in the sandbox, we had music going (Oscar looooves to dance) and the kids just played together. We did do a race, two kids at a time had to run and get through the streamer finish line – but right off the bat two kids collided and no one really got the “two kids only” rule so it was over pretty quickly. everyone got gold medals (also from the dollar store) and that was that. 😉
…. For dessert I didn’t do cake for a few reasons. First I had some concern that with all the running around and activities, Oscar would freak out if everyone stopped what they were doing and sang to him. But the main reason for not doing cake is because Oscar doesn’t really like cake. But he does go
for ice cream so I decided to do what he liked vs. what was traditional and make a really simple sundae bar for the kids. I went to the Bulk Barn and got cookies, gummy bears, smarties and sprinkles and let the kids make their own dessert. Success.
I walked around a few stores over the week prior trying to come up with loot bag ideas. The price on loot bags was quickly adding up in my head. Plus all the stuff just seemed like it would be thrown out which made me feel like it was a waste, and an annoyance to the parents. Because I had bought some prizes for the games I figured that was enough for fun little goodies. But I wanted the kids to go home with something, so I decided to get each child a dinosaur toy that when you squeeze it, the mouth opens. It’s hilariously cute and really inexpensive – Once all the kids got their dino at the end they were running around making them talk to one another and they ended up in the sandbox. 🙂
– I debated Oscar opening his gifts in front of everyone. I didn’t know what was the new norm. When I was growing up we did open presents in front of the guests – that was part of the fun! It was funny timing that yesterday
(To, or not to open gifts at a party) on their facebook page. Do your kids open gifts? Oscar ended up opening them and all of the kids were great and I made sure Oscar said thank you to each guest after he opened a gift, and said thank you for coming, and for the gift as they left. I thought that was a good lesson to instill.
Anyhow, that was our super low key birthday party for Oscar! 🙂 The main thing was, he and his friends had fun playing together. At the end of the night Oscar was yelling “Hey guys! Wanna come into my house?!” which I thought was hilarious – he wanted the party to keep going. 🙂
*Ps., I’ll try to get a better shot of the dino toy but you can see it lying in the sandbox in the photos above too.