Thursday, July 9, 2009


My oldest son just celebrated his 5th birthday. Last year we had just moved here, so he didn't know anyone, so we just had a family party. This year he got to have a friends party (one friend for each year in age is our rule of thumb right now). He chose an outer space theme.

I know some parents who spend hundreds of dollars on birthday parties. That's not in our budget. Or our ideology (though I can see how it could be nice to have someone else totally take care of the planning). We like to keep it simple, but fun.

The weather stayed nice, so we were outside for everything: first supper (pizza, carrots and fruit), then cake (my wife made a fabulous rocket cake--she'll admit that it's much more easy than it looks; simple decoration secrets make it), followed by games, playing on the slip-n-slide and presents. The games were all homemade. First we had alien bowling (cardboard aliens taped to juice bottles, bowled down by a playground ball). Next was Space Shuttle ring toss (card board rings and a blow up space shuttle from the $1 spot at Target--it had a large stabilizer fin to "ring"). Lastly was Feed-the-Alien. I had drawn an alien face on a cardboard box and cut some holes for the kids to throw bean bags through. We quickly moved on to water balloons, though, and the kids had a lot of fun with that. Honestly, though, we probably could have spent most of the game time just playing with squirt guns, water balloons and the slip-n-slide.

By the time the presents were open, the kids had a little time to change and then my son could hand his friends their take home favors (my wife had made some little "back-packs" with some astronomical fabric and put a few space themed toys from the $1 Spot at Target in them). In some ways, the hour and a half flew by pretty quickly. I get a bit nervous about entertaining the kids with games (even though I did that in my position as a camp program director for almost 5 years), but it doesn't take much for them to have a lot of fun. They get into simple, creative things.

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