Creek Party 5 & 3yr
Jennifer in Rome, GA
Down by the Creek Party for 5 yr and 3 yr Both of my boys have summer birthdays a month apart. In order to maximize everyone's time and our birthday party budget, we have had a joint party for both midway between their birthdays. Less than a mile from our house is a quaint creekside park owned by a church. This creek is one of our family's favorite places to go for afternoon or after dinner activities. It has a grassy area, plenty of shade given by huge trees, and plenty of shallow water for wading, searching for crawfish, and turning over rocks, as well as some not so shallow places for swimming. This year, for their birthday, our boys wanted to have their friends come to the creek with them. For invitations, I found some blank note cards at a Tuesday Morning (closeout) store near us for $2.50 for a pack of 12. On the front of the cards was a cool color photograph of row after row of those old aluminum lawn chairs with the muli-colored nylon webbing that were so popular in the 70's and 80's. (I remember my parents had a pair and the webbing was yellow, orange, and brown!) The picture of those chairs was both nostalgic and hysterical. I thought they would be perfect for our invitations. I printed on the inside (by running them through my printer) "Bring your Lawn Chairs and come join us 'Down by the Creek' for a birthday party for . . . with all the party specifics. They were cute, easy and cheap. This year, I needed the party to be more economical in terms of my time spent planning and money spent on it. For this reason, I tried to plan the party during a time frame where I wouldn't have to serve a meal, just snacks. I originally planned the party for the evening hours (6:30-8:30) because the sun stays out so much longer here in the summer, it would be after dinner, and hopefully a little cooler. Due to a scheduling mixup, I had to change the party for the morning (10:00 - 12:00 noon)which worked out even better. It was still before lunch and kids' naps, it was much cooler in the morning than it would have been later in the day,and we also avoided the early evening thunderstorms that pop up around here in the summer. I hardly needed decorations. The location was really it. The trees, the green grass, the water, the sound of the little waterfalls. It was perfect. On location, the church has placed permanent outdoor tables (for their socials and things). I used that to serve from. I was aiming for the feel of "old, nostalgic, little boys going to the creek with bandanas hanging out of their pockets and rocks and worms in their hands, ready to go fishing. . ." On the tables, I placed disposable, white and red checked tablecloths reminisent of a picnic. I put blue bandanas at an angle, on the table for color and interest. Plates, napkins, and cups, were red and dark blue. I took cleaned aluminum cans that canned beans and veggies come in, peeled off the label and tied red raffia around it to hold the knives, forks, and spoons. I served all the individually wrapped snacks in baskets lined with red bandanas. The other snacks that were not wrapped were served in various metal bowls, again going for that silvery aluminum, old timey look. For snacks I served watermelon slices, goldfish crackers, and chex mix. I also served some snacks that are typical of what guys in the South would take to the creek: those individually wrapped packs of peanut butter crackers (particularly Tom's or Lance - Southern brands), and individual packs of peanuts along with Cokes in a bottle. One quirky Southern tradition for some guys, is to pour their peanuts in their Coke and drink/eat them together. I also served orange and grape sodas as well as water. Since we were outside, I had to keep most things covered well. The birthday cake was actually cupcakes I found off a website. They were decorated to look like a fishing pole in the creek. The icing was blue to represent the water. We then took small white cocktail/coffee straws and cut them in half, sticking one part in the cupcake to be the fishing pole. At the top of the straw we attached the "fishin' line" which in our instance was string licorice. I liked the look of dental floss better, but my sons wanted the licorice so they could eat the fishing line too. We then attached at the end of the "line" a Swedish Fish gummy candy. They were so cute, easy to make, and fun for the boys to help decorate. We served them up with individually packaged cups of ice cream (so we weren't scooping ice cream out there). When the children arrived, I gave them each a "Bug Catching Kit" which I found at Dollar Tree. They had a bug "box" which they could hang around their neck, a net, and a pair of "pick up tongs" in each one. These were part of their "goody bag" as well as part of their entertainment (a huge value!). We wrote their initials on each one to avoid arguments and the kids had a great time with them. We really didn't have to plan many activities, at all. Everyone had a great time, wading, looking for bugs and crawfish, collecting them in their containers, swimming, turning over rocks etc. At one point, we all had enough crawfish saved in those boxes to have a Low Country Boil! The only game we planned was a simple one. I bought the little lightweight, round, "fishing bobbers" that attach to fishing lines. We wrote each kids' initials on a bobber. We lined them up "up stream" and had a fishing bobber race. They all put their bobber in at the same time and my sisters were down stream to catch the bobbers. Very simple and the kids thought it was great! Alongwith snacking, doing the cake and song bit,and presents,that was virtually the party. Some of the adults waded in the creek with the kids and others sat under the shade trees and talked. Everyone had a great time. It was the easiest and least expensive party I have done yet and probably the most enjoyable due to the lack of stress of having to "run the party." When I asked my sons later what their favorite part of their party was, they answered, "being at the creek!"