I love my kids’ birthdays. I love giving them gifts, I love taking them out for birthday donuts, I love seeing how fun it is for them to have a special day, and I love throwing them a birthday party they love. There’s lots of stuff out there about “Pinterest culture,” and how being a mom is hard today because we hold ourselves to some super high standard because we have access to everyone’s absolute best ideas. I like to think that although I do frequent Pinterest, I have a realistic idea of what my kids actually need from me & realistic ideas about what I can and should be expected to do as a parent. I don’t give my kids cutesy lunches, and when it’s our turn for snacks at playgroup we bring oranges and Oreos. However, as I mentioned before I love a good birthday party. I don’t plan games and themed food because I feel like I have to or need to compete with anyone, I just genuinely like doing it. And I don’t have any judgement on somebody who rents out the jumping place because they just don’t want to think about it. I get it – it’s a lot of work to do a themed party, and it’s not work that everyone enjoys. I think kids love their birthday parties whether they are extravagant affairs, middle of the road planned (this is usually my line!), or thrown together at the last minute, so as parents I don’t feel like it’s necessary to stress about something you can’t/don’t want to do.
My 3 year old is all about Halloween – all year long. We read “Splat the Cat: What Was That?” and “Little Blue Truck’s Halloween” at least once a week, with other Halloween books mixed in (with a healthy sprinkling of truck books). I really don’t even know what sparked this love of Halloween. Neither my husband nor I are super Halloween fans – though I do decorate, and he was incredibly excited about our giant spider web and fake spider that covered the mantle last year. He likes to talk about “ghostes” and pumpkins, but he is not into anything scary or suspenseful (in fact both of the books I mentioned have pages that at least at some point he has asked us to skip!) This year, he wanted to celebrate his birthday with a Halloween party. It was fitting for him, and I was excited because I knew we’d be able to figure out some fun things to do and make.
The invitation was made in Photoshop using some free patterns for personal use. My kids love to have their picture on their invites – I guess it’s one of those things that you do it once, and it becomes a ‘thing.’ He really likes the word “spooky” so I had to throw that in there!
I asked him what he’d like to do at his party, and he said, “Play with my toys?” So I figured I was on my own there. I know that nobody has high expectations for a 3rd birthday party, but I at least wanted to have something to offer so that it wouldn’t be like we were surprised everyone showed up! After all, a birthday party is a special day, so I like to have a little bit of out-of-the-norm fun. I started by thinking about bean bag games or something that would be easy to make out of a large piece of cardboard. I figured I could cut some holes pretty easily and paint some pumpkins and ghosts & call it a day (we already have beanbags for other games). But then I had a genius idea (if I do say so myself!) The church where I take the boys for a weekly play group puts on a huge Halloween carnival, so since it’s off season I thought it was at least worth a shot to see if they would let us borrow a couple of games for the party! And I was ecstatic when they agreed – one more thing off of my list!
My older son is Pokemon obsessed, and at his party we had a “pin the Pokeball on the Pokemon” felt board game. It was a big hit with the kids, so I really wanted to incorporate a felt board game at this party too. I don’t mind putting in work for things like this, because my boys can play with the felt board year round. For felt board games the fun is putting on and taking off, so what’s a better Halloween felt activity than mix-and-match Jack-O-Lantern faces? Nothin’, that’s what! It turned out that this one was not AS big of a draw as the Pokemon felt board, but it definitely kept a few kids busy, and again – mine will use it again, so I’m calling it a win.
Finally, what is Halloween without Trick-or-Treating? There was no way we were going to have a Halloween party for kids without taking a loop around the block begging for candy. I did give my neighbors a heads up, and everyone I asked (that was going to be home) agreed and loved the idea. I offered to bring candy to each of them – because I didn’t want this to be a burden to anyone else – but it turned out that most of them were so excited about it that they bought their own candy. We have great neighbors who love seeing happy kids. We had the kids wear costumes, though most of them were surprised about the Trick-or-Treating. My in-laws live in the country and holiday fun almost always includes a hay ride. We threw it out there as an idea for the Trick-or-Treating, and my father-in-law was all in. He loaded up the trailer and puttered around the block. We thought about asking if it was legal beforehand, but we figured it was the kind of thing that might be better to ask forgiveness! And hey – if my 3 year old got his first ticket for a birthday party hayride, I figure that’s a pretty good story for the future, right? It was truly awesome, and a little bit of rain made it bearable to be outside in the Texas summer heat. I know that not everyone would have access to a city hayride, but don’t let that deter you from a Halloween themed birthday party! The kids won’t even know they’re missing it, because candy.
Hands down, my favorite part of planning a party is the food. My family has a lot of fun coming up with silly names for all of the items we serve. A few of the things we ate this time were mummies, zombie eyes, and worm food. I’ll be posting more about the food soon! I decorate cakes as a sometimes paying hobby, and this year when I asked what kind of cake I should plan on, he said “Sprinkles and pumpkins.” Ask and ye shall receive, child. He got sprinkles, and a pumpkin. You can read more about the cake here! I was a little bit bummed because we wouldn’t be able to find cute Halloween plates and stuff, but alas, JoAnn Fabrics seemed to know what was up, and put their Halloween swag out about 3 months early. Normally I’d be with everyone else saying slooow on down JoJo, but this time I was like yesssss. So we got some cute on-theme plates. But black and orange would’ve done fine had JoAnn not come through in the clutch.
I was really excited about how everything turned out, and I think all of the kids had a great time. (And the games just might have gotten more play by some of the parents than the kids!) I think our 86 year old neighbor said it best, “I never heard of this, but I like it!” Halloween in the summer was awesome, and if you don’t know your neighbors, well – what are you waiting for? Go out and meet them, because you may want to ask them something crazy soon, and they need to know up front what type of nut you are! We lucked into a wonderful neighborhood, and I was so happy that everyone was on board to make the day special for our big 3 year old boy.