Friday, May 29, 2009

Hilary's Retro Party

When Hilary's birthday, May 13, was still a couple of months away, I asked her what kind of party she wanted. Did she want pony rides and farm animals, like Erika had when she turned 6 (and 7 . . . and 3)? No. Did she want a dance party? No. Did she want a magician, a musician, a puppet show? No, no, no.

Apparently, what Hilary wanted was for her friends to come over and play games. Crazy, huh?

Keri thought so. She brought home the card of a dance instructor who had facilitated a party Declan attended, as a not-so-subtle suggestion that I hire someone to run the activities. But, I kept repeating, how hard can it be?

And you know what? For once, I was right.

After all the money I've spent hiring entertainers for birthday parties, I have to say this was an enlightening experience. It turns out that kids are just as happy clambering over our playset, jumping on our trampoline, playing with balloons, and playing the exact same games we played as kids (sack races, egg relays, Simon Says) as they are with entertainers that cost two hundred dollars for a 45 minute show.

I do have some suggestions, if you're considering a party like this:

1. Six is really the perfect age. You want the kids to be old enough to dependably follow directions, and young enough to still think keeping a balloon up in the air with their elbows is really thrilling.

2. Avoid relay games. Although the sack races were hilarious, it was just too difficult to break the kids into fair teams given the age ranges we had. Also, as soon as you mention the need for teams, you risk having your party derail into a cacophany of, "I want to be on X's team!!" as every kid demands to be with his or her best buddy. Better to stick with individual games. One game we didn't get around to playing but that I think would be great is the one where you have the kids try to pass a frozen orange or tennis ball around a circle using only their chins.

3. Make a list of more games than you could possibly have time to play, just in case an activity or two falls flat. Other games I'd like to try include Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Red Rover and Freeze Dance.

4. Have enough back-up so when one of the adorable boys at the party pushes another boy into the noxious, overgrown fish pond, there's someone to take the soggy guest back to the house and, fortunately, find some only slightly large replacement clothes in the closet of the birthday girl's older brother.

We ended the party with, what else? Retro loot bags, with yo-yo's, balls and all kinds of cherished candy from my childhood: candy bracelets, candy buttons and Lik-Em Sticks.

Now, time to plan the twins' party!


meredith said...

Happy birthday, Hilary!

Rose said...

That sounds like the PERFECT birthday party!

Rob Ross said...

My name is Robert Ross. I am working on a documentary with my wife who is working on her masters thesis in bioethics at Penn here in Philadelphia. We wondering if you would be able to speak to us on the topic of disability. I just read you article on Daily Babble. The thesis is an open discussion on prenatal diagnosis and disability. We are trying to find parents and family members who are willing to discuss their experiences with disability. I found your article to be very eye-opening in discussing autism and how it is perceived in society. I hope we can discuss the issues at some point soon. Thank you very much.
Rob Ross