Piper got invited to her first-ever birthday party of a classmate last weekend, and we were both psyched for her and nervous.
She's only been at this school for a couple of months (less than, actually), so we didn't know the birthday boy well. I think it was one of those "invite everyone in the class" things. Still, we were excited, as much for the opportunity to hang around other adults and possibly make friends as for Piper to have a social outing.
The party got re-scheduled; it was supposed to be on a Saturday afternoon at 3:30, but the birthday boy took ill and it was re-scheduled to the following Sunday. At 10:30 in the morning. While this sounds like a weird time to have a party, once I thought about it, it actually seemed better than the middle-of-the day times I'm used to seeing. Most of the under-5's I know still nap, and nap right after lunch, somewhere in the 1:00 to 3:00 range. The party was at a Bounce U, and I couldn't think of a better way to wear my kid out than pumping her full of birthday cake and turning her loose in a variety of bouncy structures and obstacle courses. About the time everyone is getting sick of each other and ready to drop in their tracks, taa-daa! Party's over, time for a nap.
Anyway, we didn't know the kid well but figured books were a good bet - all the parents I know get sick of reading the same ones over and over and welcome a change in the roster - so we got him a collection of Stuart Little adventures and Syd Hoff's The Horse In Harry's Room. I was going to craft some sort of fabulous stenciled hoodie or...something...but didn't get to it (and wasn't sure if these were the sort of people to appreciate handmade gifts), so I figured I'd better bring my A-game to the wrapping table:
The birthday boy's name started with "H," so I ran with it. The brown paper is kraft paper that was used as padding in some shipping package; the brown ribbon was saved from a friend's sweet cupcake-box decorations at her son's party; the "H" letters I traced from my own home-made templates and cut out of double-sided scrapbook paper. I glued down both the ribbons and the H's.
(Please excuse blurry phone photos, I only remembered to snap a couple shots as we were zooming out the door)
They looked cute, but the paper was a little thin and I double-layered the (sturdier and hardcover) Stuart Little book. This plus the glued-on ribbon and letters created a nearly-impenetrable fortress of gift wrap. It took the poor kid several minutes of struggling to get it open. He had similar trouble with the second one (although it was only single-layer-wrapped) and his mom helped him because she was afraid he was going to tear the softcover book. Whoops.
But he seemed to like the books, and forgot all about his other presents once he cracked open the Stuart Little. His mom thanked me, saying "We always need more books, we get so tired of the ones we have at home." So that made me feel good, even if my fancy wrapping job was kind of a fail.
I was really glad we went, because (due to the re-scheduled time, I think), it was just the birthday boy, his older brother, a friend of the older brother, and Piper. The other parents (birthday boy & brother's mom and dad, friend's mom) all agreed that maybe it was better this way, because four kids under age 5 was totally manageable, whereas 12 kids...maybe not so much.
The kids got to visit two different rooms in the bounce place, and there were different activities and structures in each room. It was pretty cool, because by the time they got bored in one room, it was time to move on, and then when they started to wind down in the second room, it was time for pizza and cake. The cake was this huge squashed-face Elmo cupcake-cake which the other parents thought was cute but we found a little disturbing. I find cupcake-cakes a little disturbing in general. Most of the kids just ate the two inches of technicolor frosting off the top of their cupcakes and left the rest. A good time was had by all, and an excellent nap was taken shortly after the end of the party.