Idea No.


Backyard Party 5yr



May 2001


Mary in Hendersonville, NC  USA

Honorable Mention


We celebrated our daughter's fifth birthday with a backyard party on a beautiful 84-degree day in the mountains.  As the all-girl guests arrived, we had various activities set up for them to do in the shade:  sidewalk chalk, Betty Spaghetti dolls, Tinker Toys, an easel with paint and paper, and bubble blowing. I tried to make a retreat for the moms on the porch, with a cooler filled with soft drinks and a basket full of magazines.  They tended not to retreat here, but preferred to observe and help with the games and food, thank goodness! Fifteen minutes later, we sat down for circle time. My daughter sat in a big lawn chair with hot pink and purple balloons tied to the back since she was the queen bee. After everyone was formally introduced, we played "Doggie, Doggie, Where's Your Bone" and "Duck, Duck, Goose."  Then I read them the story, "Madeline."  Dad juggled golf balls while I brought out the Barbie doll cake I had made with the Wilton Wonder Mold. (No character theme to this party!) We had purple forks, bright ladybug and butterfly plates, and pink and green polka dotted napkins.  After cake and chocolate ice cream, we opened presents in the most calm and gracious manner I have yet witnessed at a child's birthday party.  Everyone sat in a semi-circle, holding her own present.  Our big brother, wearing a monkey mask, delivered presents, one at a time, to the birthday girl.  She opened each present, read each card, and afterward gave the guest a half-way filled goodie bag and a hug, and said a big "thank you."  This was a nice alternative to the feeding frenzy we've been guilty of in the past.    A first grader (the big sister of one guest) wrote down the gift list with lots of spelling help from me, but at least she had an important job to do.  Guests filled their goodie bags up to the top after our sun face piƱata was broken open.  After everyone put on bathing suits, we ran through the sprinkler, threw water balloons, and had a balloon popping relay.  The night before, my husband and I blew up 20 balloons and I stored them in clear lawn bags in the garage until it was time for the game. (Nice presentation!) We had two teams, with the objective being to sit inside a hula hoop on a balloon until it pops, and run back to the end of the line.  Lots of kids sat on their balloons and popped them when I said "go," so this game may have been too complicated for five-year olds.  But the relay was hilarious anyway. "Monkey Boy" chased the girls around the backyard until it was time to go home.  For those whose parents were late picking their children up, we played with the toys set up for the beginning of the party.  Lots of preplanning, varied activities, and good weather made this a great party.  No one wanted to go home!  Individually tailored thank-you notes were composed on the computer, signed by the birthday girl, and mailed the very next day.  Although signing her name repeatedly was grueling, we took many breaks and learned how to be courteous and grateful.

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