Otis has been planning his fourth birthday party since Christmas. In past years, we’ve always just had adult and kid friends over for a big meal, but Otis has finally now reached the age where it’s more important that he celebrate with his friends. “Oh yeah,” one of his teachers nodded knowingly when I told her. “The fourth birthday is HUGE.” So we wanted to do something memorable and fun for him, but not too crazy-making for us (such as the cookie decorating party for 25 that he initially proposed). We thought and thought, and finally decided to have a low-key party at the merry-go-round at a local park. This would allow us to bring our own food, run around outside with loads of extra space, and partake in a fun activity.
F, whose crafty side has really been shining through lately, designed some invitations for the party:
One of the mothers at Otis’s school confessed that she just assumed that I had done them. But no, ’tis F who was the genius. Otis addressed all the envelopes himself and proudly delivered one ticket to each of his classmates’ cubbies. Embarrassingly, he would later quiz all the invitees and ask them where they kept their invitations.
We started the afternoon making colored pasta necklaces. I found this great tutorial on dyeing the pasta to create really vibrant colors, and they really turned out bold and beautiful. The kids had such a great time making necklaces, and it continued to be a popular activity through the rest of the afternoon.
Then we had snacks and cupcakes. To keep with the merry-go-round theme, I used the animal cracker cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma that we received as a Christmas present, and I pushed bamboo sticks through the cookies before I baked them so that they would look like carousel animals. We used these as cupcake toppers.
If you’re interested in doing the same, soak the bamboo skewers before you bake them so that they don’t burn and refrigerate the sugar cookies before and after skewering them so that they keep their shape as much as possible.
After stuffing themselves with snacks and treats, the kids took several rides on the merry-go-round, and ended the day rolling down the hill en masse. Otis still didn’t want to ride any of the animals that went up and down, which surprised me, but he was happy nonetheless with his friends:
And as a thank you, a package of animal crackers for each kid:
Pessimist as I am, I hate saying that things went well. But I think even I’ll say that I think the kids had a great time, and the party was a success. It still required a bit of effort, but I didn’t kill myself over the party, didn’t stress too much, and even had fun!