My leaning toward natural parenting means that I am always focused on simplicity and environmental stewardship when it comes to family events and my children's milestones. This year at Genevieve's fourth birthday is the first time we have elected to throw her a party, wanting the party to be her idea and about what she wants as opposed to us. It was a great success!
We used her imagination to guide us in making the cake (a Spiderman cookie cake made from scratch!), the decorations (a few flowery paper plates and napkins, and mylar balloons from the dollar store) and in selecting the party theme. She loves having afternoon tea parties, so the party theme was a "Garden Tea Party," complete with pink lemonade and outdoor activities. The first activity was to decorate pots from the dollar store and replant tomato seedlings in them. The girls relished the chance to get dirty!
After we cleaned up, we moved onto the second activity, which was originally going to be butterfly catching in our nearby woods, but due to cool weather we decided to keep the kids indoors and did dot art paintings instead. This ended up being a great activity that didn't require much parental assistance, allowing the adults to chat and eat chips and dip. Because the party was held in the afternoon from 2 to 4 pm, we had a selection of soft drinks and hors d'ouvres but no need for large food dishes. The party took place on Cinco de Mayo, giving us an easy idea for the hors d'ouvres: chips, salsa, and guacamole!
We chose not to make gift-opening a large part of the occasion. I spoke with parents ahead of time, alerting them to our desire not to have large gifts, both for their sake and ours. Guests brought a small trinket, allowing the children the chance to learn to share but not contributing to the overwhelming amount of junk typically present at children's birthdays.
The same philosophy applied to the party favors. We gave the kids butterfly nets (from the dollar store; originally for the second activity) and let them take their tomato seedlings home. The parents seemed happy and relieved to have the plants rather than more temporary tattoos, play doh, and noise-makers.
Thanks Justine! Readers, find Justine at her blog, The Lone Home Ranger.)
(Images: The Lone Home Ranger)
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