Idea No.


Mini Town Party 3yr



June 2003


Angie in San Diego, CA, USA

Honorable Mention


The idea for my daughter's third birthday party hit after I noticed that the guest list contained six small boys.  No, that prim dollhouse party I had been planning would not work.  Only a couple of little girls would be there.  I needed something noncompetitive and different, a new experience for the kids that would allow them to burn off energy.  Then I looked at our back patio, the sidewalk chalk, the ride-on toys.  Mini-town was born.  Making a town was not as extravagant as it sounds.  I prepared the mini-town party in four steps: the invitation, the town with its activity sites, the signs, and the craft. The backdrop for the invitation card was a colorful drawing of a little town.  I had downloaded the picture off the internet and used a graphics program to shrink it.  I typed information in different locations in the town design and also glued typed information around the edges.  The top of the card read, Please come to my mini-town birthday party.  A note on the bottom said, P.S.: Don't forget to bring your favorite ride-on toy! To make the town, I drew a double-laned track on the back patio with sidewalk chalk.  The road was shaped like a curvy oval, with one straight road going through the middle of the oval and a couple of straight offshoots leading to more activity sites.   I had typed up a list of five activities that I had staggered to make sure everyone wouldn't be in the same place all at once.  In one side of the oval track, I placed a child's plastic picnic table.  That was Mini-town Diner.  In the middle of the table was a basket full of lunch bags labeled with the guests names and filled with healthy snacks and sugary drinks.  In the other side of the oval was Mini-town Mailboxes, a small plastic playhouse containing envelopes.  The child would locate the envelope with his name on it and thus have instructions for the craft to share with his parents.   The other three activities were spaced around the perimeter of the track.  Favors-4-U was steps shrouded in a tablecloth.  The bags labeled with the children's names contained the party favors small cars to go with the craft and rulers, pencils, and erasers to aid them (and their parents) in making the craft.  The activity handout said the guests would Have a blast working puzzles! at the Puzzle Arcade.  It consisted of our patio dining set and a basket of wooden and cardboard preschool puzzles.  The kids could fuel up at Express Gas, simply a rubber mat placed next to a garden hose.   Next, I had to create road signs and signs that would clearly mark the five little businesses.  The road signs came from the Internet.  Since they are my daughter's special fascination, she helped me choose from among the dozens of possibilities.  I made two sizes: some would barely fit onto a standard 8 by paper.  Others were little larger than a quarter (for the craft).  We ended up with stop signs, a SPEED LIMIT 75 sign, a railroad crossing sign, and others.   I created colorful signs for the businesses on Word and used colored card stock for backing.  I glued all the signs to paint sticks with a hot glue gun.  (The road signs were cut out.)  Bricks were excellent anchors for the sticks.  Again, hot glue, especially from a large industrial gun, did the trick.   Then I arranged all the signs around the town.  The results were eye-pleasing.   The craft was a mini town on a piece of poster board.  I made a sample before the party.  I drew the roads on with a marker and ruler.  Trees were part wooden skewer and part balled up green construction paper.  Buildings were rectangular pieces of florists foam with folded cardstock for roofs (I'm curious as to whether anyone can come up with a better idea for the buildings.)  I cut out and attached the tiny road signs to two-inch pieces of wooden skewer (with the sharp ends discarded.)  I made some other signs with cardstock.  Green felt was landscaping.  Hot glue held everything together.  I realized from the beginning that the craft would require a lot of parental assistance.  It did, but the kids quite happily did much more than I thought they would.   I used construction-themed party products to decorate the craft table a tablecloth plus cups and small plates to hold supplies.  I made an orange Construction Zone sign for the middle of the table.       The master plan for the celebration was this: As soon as each guest arrived, she would get the staggered activity list and some play money.  She would ride around to each activity with the parent, pay a random amount to participate, and be sure to collect a receipt at each spot.  Five receipts in hand would prove that she had completed all five activities.  Then she could turn the receipts in for a labeled bag containing craft supplies. After the craft and cake and presents, the children could play freely in the town.  The kids had a blast at the party.  If I had had adults manning each station, there would have been a little less confusion. Some kids just wanted to play at first, and that was fine.  The key for me was to just relax and go with the flow.  My daughter had the most fun.  Ten minutes into the party, she tenderly kissed a stop sign.  The parents had a get-to-know-you game.  Whoever collected the most signatures could take home a couple of signs for his child.  That way, I wasn't left with piles of signs to try to store.  But I made sure that we kept a few signs to remember one of the happiest days of my daughter's life.

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