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A Minimalist Birthday Party?

2011 January 10
by Pamela

Challenge:  Could I host a low-key party to celebrate Mary Claire’s 5th birthday? 

Christmas went by with little stress, but I wondered if it was really possible to have a bunch of five-year-olds over here, keep them adequately entertained so they had fun, yet still keep my sanity intact.  Oh, and do it while 8 months pregnant.  I am not a laid-back hostess, even when it comes to entertaining children.  But I was not up for running all over town picking things up for the party, nor did I feel like running around our house as a circus act.

Mary Claire chose a “Princess Tea Party” as her theme, of course.  It’s a rite of passage for five-year-old girls. 

Several weeks before her birthday, when I was still debating whether we’d even have the party at home, I went to the Dollar Tree and gave the place an ultimatum:  if they had virtually everything I needed, I would buy it all there.  Otherwise we were headed to Caesarland. 

Dollar Tree did not let my little girl down.  They had adorable invitations and I bought wands to tape to the outside since we were hand-delivering them to our small guest list.  I also purchased princess gift bags, sparkly decorations, stickers, tons of candy, even name brand cupcake mix. 

I also stopped by a chinese restaurant and purchased some of those cute little carryout boxes.  Shopping for the party was done between three stores and 90 minutes.

For the menu I decided to use the girl’s interests to my advantage.  They are all at the age that cooking and making things are a novelty.  Unlike old ladies such as myself that actually have to cook for a living, they get a kick out of making sandwiches. 

So that’s what we did.  I borrowed cookie cutters from a friend, bought thin bread, various lunch meats and cheeses, rolled them on a pretty tray, and let the girls make their own sandwich and cut it into the desired shapes.  We served tea out of real china while they dined on their fancily cut cucumbers and sandwiches. 

I provided the cupcakes I had made from the dollar store mix unfrosted and gave them knives, frosting and sprinkles so they could decorate them however they liked while I sat back drinking pomegranate 7-Up.    When they were finished with their cupcakes they could eat one and decorate another to take home.  They used stickers and markers to decorate the chinese carryout boxes which provided a vehicle of transport for their pink little cupcakes.

So basically all I did was…. nothing.  Made some cupcakes, bought some lunch meat, hung some decorations, and called in my support team for help.

What worked for me:

Our helper Brittney stuffed all the goodie bags two weeks before the party.

I didn’t clean the house, except for a quick vacuum and bathroom swipe.

My girlfriend Jill took my girls the night before the party so I could set up and decorate.

My Mom and Bob were at the party setting up, helping the girls, cleaning, and providing crowd control.

We only invited five of Mary Claire’s closest friends and their siblings. 

I didn’t bother with games or prizes and kept the party 1.5 hours.

They didn’t get any treats until it was time to leave = no sugar rush.


Throughout the entire party, there was only time I felt any stress at all, which is pretty impressive.   Unfortunately I hadn’t thought of an ice breaker and when the girls arrived they all just stood there staring at me.  So we grabbed a stuffed princess and did a quick round of Hot Princess.  That doesn’t sound good.  Hot Potato with a Princess?  You know what I mean.  Mary Claire also “read” her guests a princess story book and then we were off and running with the “You Kids Do All the Work While I Sit Here With My Feet Propped Up”  theme. 

I was so proud of how Mary Claire acted at the party.  She was legitimately thrilled with all of it and kind to her little friends.  Happy Birthday to our Princess!

One Response leave one →
  1. Nicole Dzikowicz permalink
    February 1, 2011

    You are such a great mom! So clever while being economic;-)

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