23 posts categorized "Birthday Parties"

Classroom Birthday Celebrations

October 03, 2016

It's a topic I struggle with year after year.  When my boy came home, the day before his birthday, he was excited to share news of the other kid who had celebrated a birthday in the classroom that day.  Excited, he said "we made buttons, each person got to make two of their own buttons".  And also: the celebrant distributed owl stickers (the owl is the school mascot) and lollipops to take home.

I was a bit dumbfounded.  An activity like button-making sounded like a heavy lift.  I knew I couldn't come up with an activity that would compare with the wow-factor.  It was already 9pm the night before his birthday and I had let the teacher know I would come for the 30-minutes window before lunch.  But: I had no idea what I'd do.  I had no bandwidth to conduct an art activity.  I considered playing a classroom game (like "heads up 7-up").  What else?  And, what about the treats?  Bring some, bring none, bring fruit, bring pencils?

The next day, it was a hectic work-day especially since I had taken off for an hour to show up in the birthday boy's classroom.  I was disheveled and disorganized as I sauntered into the room with 3 large framed photos of the celebrant from prior birthdays and his baby book in hand.  I read selected excerpts from the baby book: about his favorite foods, about his love for music from a young age, about his favorite sports now that he was older.  The classmates laughed at the stories, and my boy loved the attention.

As for treat?  I found it within myself that morning to make a batch of mini-muffin tin donuts, a household favorite that takes me 20 minutes, beginning to end.  Thank goodness his classroom allowed homemade treats (some classrooms don't!).  Happy Birthday, big boy!

Today's her birthday!

September 23, 2013

Our girl is now of the age that we don't necessarily do anything celebratory at school, though I did jokingly threaten to show up at her middle school during lunch period today (her response was a glaring eye).  

I did feel a bit of pressure this year to celebrate with some big familial party, so other members of our extended family could honor our celebrant.  To be honest, I didn't have it in me (a rare thing).  We have many traditions to celebrate as a family, just our own family, starting with early morning presents and card-reading first thing in the morning.  There will be cake (sort of, actually just a leftover cake) and there will be dinner of her own choice (she wants "breakfast for dinner").  This is our way of celebrating and it is everything she wants and more.

There were some other great ideas in an old thread, "A non-party birthday celebration".  What are some of your birthday celebrating traditions, small-style or big-style, with family or friends?

Birthday Celebrations at School: Songs, Treats, Other?

October 07, 2012

It was my son's birthday celebration at school the other day, and - when I handed the teacher four 8-by-10 photos to represent each year of his life along with a few sentences about his personality at those ages - I sheepishly said, "I didn't bring a treat or anything."  

She said, "That's ok."

My son has told me that they sometimes have ice cream at school to celebrate a birthday.  Or perhaps they have cupcakes but he cannot have one "because I'm allergic".  When one mama wrote: 

My children's school got around this whole issue by making birthdays party- and treat-free (much to many parents' relief). Instead, the birthday child can choose to have a "birthday book" celebration. He or she brings a book from home to share with the class. After the book is read, the child can either take the book home or donate it to the classroom library. My older son has always chosen to skip the celebration. I'm curious what my younger son will choose.

With our older children, I have probably sent some kind of "treat" about half of the time.  For one of my daughters, it was often grapes or clementine oranges, as these were her favorite fruits.  Sometimes I would do mini corn muffins or dried cranberries.  Mostly, though, it was a stressor for us and I wondered if we really needed to go through the exercise.  I wouldn't mind a treat-free policy for birthday celebration at schools, I'll be honest.  I would rather prepare some photos to share with the class and I have previously come into my child's class on the birthday itself to share 10 or 15 minutes of stories and photos of my little celebrant.  It makes them feel like royalty!

How do you feel about birthday celebrations at school?  What are your favorite ways to celebrate?

Sister to sister: "It's my birthday & I don't want you there"

September 17, 2012

Well, she didn't say it quite like that, but I am sure it sounded like that to her younger sister.  My older daughter turns 12 this weekend, and she has made plans with her girlfriends to hang out afterschool, have dinner (with us, her parents) at one of her favorite restaurants, then go play a round of mini golf, all with her friends (and us, her parents).  One thing she was explicit about: "can we find something else for *her* to do?"

This is a little different than the birthday party where we ponder whether to invite the friend & his little brother.  We're talking about the celebrant's own sister.

Her sister is deflated, 3 years her junior, wanting ever so much to be a part of the fun and celebration.  Granted, we will have more celebration reserved just for the family, so there will be an opportunity for Sister the Younger to celebrate with Sister the Elder.

On the one hand, I want to respect the Elder's wishes for space from her sister, wishes for a little autonomy, wishes for some fun with her own friends.  On the other hand, we like to exude inclusivity, especially among family.  Everyone is invited, all the time!

Well: WWYuMsD?  What would you urbanMamas do?

Birthdays and Permission to Celebrate Small

April 29, 2012

My middle son turned seven Saturday, and I had many vague ideas about some sort of celebration. We had lots of great thoughts about themes and, of course, I do love to bake a cake. We would do it!

But, as the day approached and my evenings filled with must-dos and my days filled with appointments, as I wore myself out by running in two separate Run for the Arts and dug in the school garden and then in my own, and as I realized just how broke we were until pay day, I kept putting off the planning and putting it off until... it was Friday night and the birthday was Saturday.

I apologized. I woke up and made him a homemade version of everyone's favorite: Starbucks petite vanilla bean scones (mine had whole wheat flour and lots less sugar, but we're keeping quiet about that). We had a little money, and we decided to spend that two ways: letting him pick out a gift and going to Little Big Burger. He got bacon (his favorite!). We came home and I got to baking the cake.

Cake out of the oven, frosting made, I heard the familiar pop-pop-pop sound of fireworks. It was Reed College's Renn Fayre, and there was just time! We got ready in record time and biked over just in time to see the end of a fantastic fireworky celebration. "It's my birthday, I'm seven!" Truman said to everyone he saw as we headed home. Home again, time for cake and singing, and everything was just fine. In the end? He had a great day, and mom did not have to spend hours feverishly freaking out over how not-clean-enough the house was and whether there would be enough hot dogs for guests and whether people would come and whether other kids would like the cake...

It was just us. And it was enough.

We'll do other big parties, especially this summer for my oldest's 10th birthday, but I was thrilled to let myself have the permission to celebrate small. How about you: do you feel the need to go big every time, or sometimes, do you go small and love it?

You're invited! ... but your little brother is not.

November 06, 2010

This has come up recently in our household.  In planning in the invite list for a party, there was one child invited, but her sister not.  It was a bit awkward, as the sibling isn't too much younger and really often blends with all the other kids.  But, the celebrant was adamant.  

It came up again recently, when a friend relayed that his child was inviting an older sibling, but not the younger.  So, it begs some questions: what to do when the kids start deciding who to invite and not to invite to parties when it carves lines between siblings?  Do parents require their kids to invite kids that the celebrant themselves don't want to invite because of various reasons? 

Baby, it's cold outside (sometimes): Where to birthday party?

February 17, 2010

I have had occasion to pat myself on the back for "scheduling" (hehe) my children's birthdays in the generally warmer months. But still, it's Portland! So, even in April, a birthday cannot be expected to be held out-of-doors. We've chosen to hold most of our birthday parties around the house; but for big celebrations, it doesn't really work (and who wants to clean?). Andy asks:

I was just wondering if any of you wise mamas out there had suggestions for places to have birthday parties during these cold, rainy months. Both of my kids are blessed with winter birthdays. When they were young we would just have small family gatherings at our house but now that they are a little older and want to invite more friends it just doesn't work out to have it at home, where the kids end up running in circles around our very small house. We'd like to avoid having it at Chuck E Cheese for many reasons, but don't have a huge budget to rent expensive spaces, especially given that their birthdays are just a month apart. Do you have any suggestions of places to hold small-ish birthday parties that won't break the bank?

I'd love to hear ideas, as my soon-to-be-eight-year-old has demanded a biggish party, with friends, this year. Our birthday party category turns up recommendations for a two-year-old's party; a post about indoor climbing gyms, with ideas for parties there; a good word for the Academy Theatre's birthday parties; and thoughts from those who have had parties at the Children's Museum. I'd love to hear your other ideas, especially those with less cost-per-partygoer!

Turning One: How to celebrate?

November 19, 2008

Can we talk about celebration a bit?

My beautiful baby boy is turning one in December and we want to have a small party. The problem is we have a very, very small place and couldn't comfortable fit everyone we want to invite, also our family lives across the country, so their houses are not options. I would have love to have it outside at a park or something but December, don't thinks so..So I need some ideas, kid-friendly resteraunts, big cafes, anything. Thanks for all your great ideas in advance!

Of course, check out all the great ideas in previous conversations on throwing birthday parties.

A Farm birthday party

May 14, 2008

As each year passes, we always try to make the kids' birthdays special and memorable, sometimes by hosting special and memorable birthday parties.  Debby's daughter is turning three (!) and is all about all things farm. Can you help brainstorm ideas to make the celebration a barnyard of fun?

I am looking for a great place to have a birthday party for my daughter's 3rd birthday. She is enamored by animals and all things farm. I would really like to have a place that accomodates little ones seeing (and maybe touching?) animals, and maybe a play structure, and a place to eat cake and run around, without having to pay enough to lose our own farm, so to speak! I thought of maybe a place on Sauvie Island, or somewhere else rural but not so far from the city that no one will want to drive there. Any ideas?

Face Painting Anyone?

April 04, 2008

It's party time, but who's providing the entertainment?  urbanMama Anjani writes:
My son's third birthday is approaching, and while I think he's still young enough that we can get away with a play date-style party without too many frills, I was thinking it'd be fun to have someone come for a while to do face painting for the kids (and I don't know, maybe
balloons in cool shapes).  Does anyone have any good recommendations for this?  Our budget is limited (heck, I'd do it myself, if I had any artistic skill.) so I'd also be willing to consider someone who does this recreationally; we don't need someone to put on a big show.

A non-party Birthday Celebration?

December 28, 2007

The urbanMamas community has been a great resource for birthday party ideas.  One mama emailed recently and is taking recommendations for a non-party birthday celebration:

My son will be turning 6 in January, and the thought inviting his entire Kindergarten class to a party is daunting and fraught with danger (What if they all show up?! My house is too small! What if nobody shows up? He will be crushed! Plus his birthday is the first week school is back in session, not giving people very much notice for a party. Clearly I needed to plan a lot farther ahead).

I’m in search of non-party ideas for birthdays…something we can do as a family or with one friend that is a special event. What can we do in the winter? I’m looking for something more than a simple trip to OMSI…  Help!

"Cash Only, Please"

May 31, 2007

The urbanMamas community has proven to be a wealth of wisdom when it comes to birthday parties. Perhaps you have some suggestions for Meliah, who is looking to funnel relatives' generousity toward her daughter's college savings account:

I am hoping to get some tactful wisdom from the baby/toddler birthday veterans out there. My daughter is turning one in a month (yea!) and we are getting ready to send out invitations. I mentioned to my husband the idea of adding a "No gifts, please" note on the bottom of invitations. She's 1. She doesn't really NEED anything, especially not more clothes! or toys! So I was telling him about some various ideas (book trades, tree planting, donations to pool and give to a charity, etc) that can be done in lieu of gifts at a birthday party. My question is, is there any respectful, non-tacky way to ask for monetary donations for my daughters college savings account? If anyone has any ideas or experience with this, I'd love some feedback so that I can adjust her invitations accordingly before sending them out. Thanks! Oh- BTW, her birthday is going to be a small (15 people or less) family affair. More of a special family dinner than a "birthday party". Thanks again!

The Entertainer - for a 4 yo's Birthday Party

April 22, 2007

Anne would love to hear your thoughts on making her son's fourth birthday party the bestest 4th birthday party there ever was:

I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for a fun, low-key entertainer for a 4 year old boy's birthday party this summer? I'm thinking of a clown, magician or puppeteer, but would be open to other possibilities.

Children's Museum Parties

March 12, 2007

Has anyone hosted or attended a birthday party at the Children's MuseumMelissa asks:

I wonder if you would help me by asking if anyone's been to a birthday party at the Children's Museum.  I'd be curious to know the age of the birthday child and how the experience was for both the adults and children.  My daughter has her heart set on it, so i'd love help in fine tuning the details.

A Locale for a Baby Shower

January 23, 2007

Many of us have celebrated the impending births of our babies with a baby shower or blessingway. Sarah emails:

I would ask you all where a good place for less than a dozen grown women could hang out on a early Sunday afternoon to open gifts and drink tea and laugh about things? I have only lived in Portland for two years, and can't really find the environment I'm looking for. Can you please point me in the right direction?

Party with a Movie

January 21, 2007

Thank you so much to Stephanie for sharing!

My daughter Chloe turned four last week. I'm pregnant and have been battling such horrible morning sickness, that the thought of planning a birthday party had me completely overwhelmed. I honestly just didn't have the energy to plan a party at home and felt so guilty about it! My husband and I discussed it and we ended up deciding to have a party at the Academy Theater. It was WONDERFUL! Honestly, all I had to do was bake the cake and show up. The Academy served pizza slices, popcorn and lemonade for the children and their parents. Once everyone was seated, we were treated to the movie "Flushed Away" (which the children loved!) After the movie, we had cake and opened presents before heading home. There was no set-up and no clean-up for me to deal with - we just showed up and the Academy took care of everything else. The children all had a blast, and I've been getting thank you emails from parents all weekend. My daughter had a wonderful birthday and it was so EASY! If there are other mamas out there who, for whatever reason, are looking to throw a birthday party away from home, I cannot recommend the Academy highly enough - they were great!

Birthday Party for a 3-year old

January 20, 2007

Can we help out Kim with planning a kid- and adult-friendly birthday party? C'mon! We only turn 3 once:

I was hoping to get some advice/suggestions about a three-year-old birthday party. I am trying to do something that would be enjoyed by both the kids and the adults. Any thoughts?

Be sure to check out our Birthday Party section for previous posts and ideas.

Indoor Climbing with Kids

December 29, 2006

Milaatthecircuit Over the past few weeks, I have taken Mila to the  Portland Rock Gym  and The Circuit Bouldering Gym for her first indoor climbing experiences. I worked as a climbing guide for Outward Bound and managed my own guiding service but I was never teaching 4-year olds until now. As a way-out-of-practice crag rat, my main challenge was ensuring that I didn't pile too many expectations on the experience. Letting Mila find her comfort zone was my mantra.

Here is a summary of both Portland indoor climbing gyms based on my experience with Mila:

Portland Rock Gym: This gym is primarily wall climbing.  The routes are mostly top-roped. There is a bouldering area but children 7 years old or younger are not allowed in that area.

Cost?  Mila’s before 3 pm day pass was $7. You don’t need to purchase an adult day pass at The Circuit or Portland Rock Gym unless you will be climbing as well.

Equipment? Wall climbing requires a harness. Until age ten (or they out grow it), I recommend a full-body harness - rather than a seat harness - for young climbers.  A seat harness may not keep a very young climber secure if he or she falls upside down, which can happen more often than you think. We rented a full-body harness for the day ($3).

You have the option to rent climbing shoes but in my opinion there is no point for a child younger than 7. Mila used an old pair of Robeez.

Safety? You need to belay your child, so you must pass a belay test and know how to keep a climber safe on belay. If you don't know what that sentence means, stick with The Circuit.

Extras? The Portland Rock Gym has camps and classes for kids as well as options for birthday parties.

Overall experience? Mila scrambled up some of the bouldering walls (against the rules, I know) and really took to the whole experience EXCEPT for being on the rope. For whatever reason she would gladly scamper the the top of the wall in the bouldering area but once a rope was on her she just didn’t feel comfortable.

The Circuit Bouldering Gym: The Circuit is bouldering only. The goal of bouldering is to work on climbing technique on a boulder or small outcropping rather than on a cliff face. The point is not so much getting to the top of something but instead linking a series of moves through a “problem” - in effect you are solving the problem of how to climb a section of rock.

The Circuit is basically an artificial, indoor boulder field. Since the moves are typically on an area close to the ground, there are no ropes or harnesses involved.

Cost?  A child day pass at The Circuit is $6 and will increase to $8 on 1/1/2007 (so go there NOW!). If your child is a fan, you can cut future costs by getting a 10-punch card. Again, you don’t need to purchase an adult day pass at The Circuit or the Portland Rock Gym unless you will be climbing as well.

Equipment? Like at Portland Rock Gym you have the option to rent climbing shoes but kids can boulder in their socks or shoes. I let Mila use an old chalk bag of mine (with a Bison Ball) but this was more of cool extra for her, not at all a necessity.

Safety? You don't need to know what belay means but, although bouldering is close to the ground, don’t get lulled into thinking it is completely safe. Supervision of your little climber is still a must. It is especially important that your little one does not climb directly above or below any other climbers. Why? Because it will not be pretty if a child (or adult!) falls on your kid from any height.

Extras? Among the many features is a boulder with especially kid friendly climbs where Mila could “top-out” and then come down a slide. The Circuit also has classes, camps, and birthday party packages for kids.

Overall experience? Mila LOVED The Circuit. The best part of the day for me was that Mila did not want to leave (yes, I will endure tantrums from kids who don’t want to quit climbing!) We will be back and picked up a 10-punch card for Mila and Papa just to make sure.

The Final Word: Overall I think Portland Rock Gym is better for children with some experience/comfort with a rope system and/or older children. The Circuit is a better choice for kid's first indoor climbing experience and I could see a child graduating to wall climbing at Portland Rock Gym from there. Happy climbing!

Portland Rock Gym, 21 NE 12th Ave., Portland

The Circuit Bouldering Gym, 6050 SW Macadam Ave, Portland

If I knew you were coming, I'd have bought a cake

November 16, 2006

Here's a fun question for all of you urbanMamas.  "The Boss" is hoping to find the perfect cake for her daughter.  Does the following stir up any recommendations?

We were up in Seattle recently to attend the 1st birthday party of the daughter of a dear friend.  The cake was one of those wonderful old-fashioned sheet cakes that I remember from my own childhood; it came courtesy of this old-school bakery there, Remo I think was the name.

My own bambina is turning 1 this week and I'd like to have some friends over - and would love to land a similar kind of sheet cake.  But I don't wanna do Fred Meyer; would rather throw my money at a mom-n-pop-type bakery, something neighborhoody, if possible.

Anyone have any ideas where to satisfy my nostalgia for a simple sheet cake for the bambina's bday? 

We're Jammin'

September 28, 2006

Thanks to those of you offering insight on Birthday Party Ideas (especially indoor ones!). We have a mama looking for more specific ideas:

I'm planning a party for my little girl who will turn 4 in a week. Since she is a great fan of music, singing and dancing, I would like to have a sing-a-long at the party with the kids participating with their own instruments--some homemade at the party, some we'll provide, some the kids will bring. I am looking for a musician who can play several different instruments (like guitar, banjo, harmonica, mouth harp, drums) and who can do a sing along of kids songs and other fun songs with lots of participation. Most likely the party will happen at a park, so someone who is ok playing outdoors. Any suggestions?

Family Room at Milagros

June 07, 2006

urbanMamas love Milagros, and this is why!  Tony recently sent us some updated information on their family room.  He writes:

We are happy to announce that The Family Room at Milagros is finally licensed and ready to go. We will be open for coffee and community on Saturday June 10th from 10 am - 2 pm. Our initial plans for regular coffeehouse days and hours are Thursday - Saturday, 10 am - 2 pm. Keeping in line with the values that define the baby and mama products we offer at Milagros, all of the coffee offered in The Family Room is certified organic and fair trade.

You may be wondering, what about all the other hours and days? We envision The Family Room as a community space - not a coffee shop or a cafe. We want to host special activities during "non-coffeehouse hours" that are of interest to mamas and families - events, classes, seminars, film screenings, meetings, even birthday parties!
We are keeping The Family Room rental rate very affordable (only $15/hour), so if you have an event seeking a fun and kid-friendly space, feel free to contact us. We would also love to hear ideas from Mamas and Papas out there on what types of classes, seminars, etc. they would find of interest. Send us an email at milagros@milagrosboutique.com with your ideas or visit our website at http://milagrosboutique.com
The Family Room is next door to Milagros at 5429 NE 30th Avenue in Portland.

Throwing Birthdays - Piece of Cake?

February 28, 2006

Back in the childless days, I loved throwing parties.  They were painless in the sense that once the liquor started flowing, you didn't have to sweat the details.  Fast forward a few years and now that I have children, I spend time a great amount of time deliberating a plan of attack.  It seems like there's so much pressure tied to throwing a child's birthday party.  Who should we invite?  Where should we have it?  Gifts, or no gifts?

For Carter's 1st birthday, he had it back in Minneapolis.  It was a bit of reunion of sorts with friends and family so we had a ton of guests, and had to tote back a ton of gifts.  I loved seeing old friends and my family, but I wasn't too fond of all of the gifts.  For me, celebrations aren't about gifts.  For Carter's 2nd birthday, I thought long and hard whether to host it at our house or somewhere else.  I also posted this on urbanMamas to see if it would generate any ideas.  In the end, we held it at home, and invited the urbanMamas and some neighbor friends.  We decided on a "no gift" policy since with a February birthday, Carter was still swimming in gifts from the holidays.  Every year, I get a better sense of how I like to handle birthdays, and keeping it simple is always key.  Here are two fuss free ideas that we used for Carter's birthday this year:

Cupcake birthday cake.  This year, my husband came up with a brilliant idea of making a cake out of ice cream cone cupcakes.  When it came time for cutting the cake, it was so easy!  After Carter blew out the candles, I handed each child an ice cream cone.  No messing with plates, silverware, and anxious kids.  He didn't keep it simple by also making apple cupcakes and a carrot cake for the adults.


Book exchange in lieu of gifts.  We attended a couple of parties last year that had book exchanges rather than gifts and loved the idea.  Each child was instructed to bring a book to Carter's party, and when before they said their "good byes" I made sure they chose a book before leaving.  We did not provide clear instructions, but somehow it worked out fine.  However, to alleviate confusion, you should provide guests with explicit details such as "bring a new, unwrapped book that is appropriate for kids age 2 yrs old and older" or "bring a wrapped book from your child's collection that he / she would like to pass on to a friend ages 2 yrs old and older".

What are your ideas for a fuss free party?  I've got another birthday to throw this summer so I'd love to hear any simple successes!

Birthday Party Ideas

February 01, 2005

Any recommendations for places to hold a birthday party for a two year old? Some place that offers some type of diversion, but has food or would allow food that doesn't cost an arm and a leg?