Ok, now for the party!
I have mixed feelings about Chick's party. I can say that everyone was happy, smiling, playing, interacting with others. They all seemed to have a really great time. So it was a success.
But I woke up this morning feeling like, despite the success of happy kids, it was a failure for me. I am disappointed in my time-management and the unnecessary stress that it put on me. I think it would have been really easy to eliminate the kinks of the party if I'd been more prepared.
However, now that I've had some more time and distance from the party, I am feeling better about it. It's not a FAILURE, but certainly a learning opportunity.
(though if I haven't learned to not procrastinate by now, then I'll wait and learn it sometime later....)
Here's the rundown. At about 11:55 guests started to arrive. We weren't ready. I had 11.5 out of 13 aprons made. We had a few streamers up, but most were still sitting on the table. I blew up a couple of balloons, but didn't get the cute baking words written on them. Frosting was not done, and I was in the process of getting cookies cut out and baked.
But the cake stands and mini cakes were ready. And I do think the cake stands were one of my genius ideas. I love cake stands, and really wanted cake stands for the girls...but not only would 13 cake stands cost a pretty penny, but then what would I do with them afterwards? Where would I store that many?!
I like the homemade stands that you see on pinterest...where people glue candlesticks to plates, etc...and I saw one that was done with a bowl and plate. I had already seen some plates and bowls on the dollar tree website that I wanted to get anyhow.... I admit that bowls aren't as cool as candlesticks, but they are more sturdy, so it seemed perfect for young cake decorators.
But there was still the factors of not having those items available for regular use afterwards if I glued them, and again: where would I store them anyhow?!
And then, brilliance. Really (though not humbly). I remembered how sturdy the gingerbread houses were at Christmas...and how they didn't come off the plates until I'd run hot water on them. So I decided to "glue" the plates and bowls together with royal frosting. And it worked LIKE A CHARM.
They stayed together perfectly while the girls were using them, and after the party I ran hot water on them and they disconnected, so that we can use them as regular dishes some other time. And at $2 per "cake stand" they were the least expensive option. win win win.
Ok, so when the first girls started to arrive I put them to work on helping with streamers, and though it didn't look like I'd have done it, it did give them something to do, and there just wasn't time to do it as I'd have done it. So good enough. Most streamers didn't get put up, and they'll just reroll and wait for the next party. (They weren't from this party, anyhow. I think I'd originally made them for Chick's 3rd birthday party, and because they are sewn and ruffled they don't rip and are able to reroll and use again and again.)
Then they all got to pick out a homemade apron. I'd given my camera to Monkey to take pictures of all of the aprons & the cake stand display, and the pictures that she took didn't quite showcase them as I'd hoped...but I appreciate the pictures that she DID take. Once again: good enough.
(OH, and the we'd hung up the aprons on hangers on the curtain rod...so then JUST as people were starting to come, the curtain rod FELL DOWN. And it's big and heavy, so I'm really glad that no one got hurt, and nothing got broken from that! After that we just stacked up the aprons on the table).
I should note that Chick was wearing my apron, because I didn't get enough done. But then when the final guest arrived Chick gave that temporary apron to her, and Chick put on one that Grandma J had made for her. Everyone was happy, and everyone will end up getting their own to keep, but Chick and our neighbor didn't get to wear their party aprons for the party.
Once they had their aprons, then went to the dining table to decorate chef hats. That went well...until some were done, and Mr. Fox hadn't arrived with the pizza yet, and I was frantically trying to make a mondo batch of frosting. The girls that were done with their hats started goofing around and it started to feel frantic.
This is where I should say that 13 girls is too many. Especially if you figure that my younger kids didn't stay away as planned, so they added extra bodies and extra commotion. I originally had said that the max was 12 girls...but she was having trouble cutting out the 13th girl, so I let her invite everyone with the assumption that SOMEONE wouldn't be able to make it. But they all did!
Ok, finally all of the chef hats were done, and Mr. Fox got home with the pizza, and everyone sat down to eat peacefully for a few minutes. And I continued to try frantically to make the frosting and get it colored and in pastry bags... but they were getting wild again, and I wasn't ready to start the cakes.
So I asked a fast-writing friend to write down gifts as Chick opened them, and they did the presents. And she got lots of really fun, cute stuff, and she loves it all.
And during that time I got the frosting reasonably ready.
Then we had a quick talk about the first things to do when baking: tie back your hair, and wash your hands. So they did that, and I gave them each a stick of gum so that they wouldn't be tempted to be snitching frosting or anything.
The cake decorating seemed to be really fun for the girls. They each got one or two cookies to practice on (in the frantic dash to bake the cookies I had miscalculated, so rather than two for each girl, I only had 1.5 for each! Ugh. I made so many mistakes on this party! I hate to even admit all of it, but it is cathartic to get it all out.).
There seemed to be a lot of problems with bags leaking, or clogging, or running out, or, or, or. And I was very busy trying to help with those problems.
|Seriously, though. They are all so awesome. What a fun bunch of girls, even if it was uber crazy!|
And that is when parents started to arrive...and we hadn't even had ice cream yet! Thankfully the parents were understanding. One stayed to help serve ice cream (oh, thank you, sweet angel of scooping!), one or two left and came back later. It all worked out.
The girls finished their cakes, got them boxed up, and ate their practice cookies. They started going home. Some didn't get picked up as early, so they gave piggy back rides to the twins and goofed around and the kids all had a great time.
And eventually everyone was gone. I tidied, and my kids kept eating frosting and sprinkles, and I didn't even care. We'd made it through, and the only casualty was a bowl that had been a wedding gift (I'm still bummed about it, but it was COMPLETELY my fault, and things happen sometimes. It's just a bowl, right? But it was really cute...you can see it in the picture of the girls decorating their hats).
Then I fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours.
So from a kid's point of view: it was a fun party. And my kids said that I did seem stressed, but not grumpy...so that's great! From a perfectionist party planner's point of view: the party was a fiasco. I'm just trying to remember that it was A KIDS PARTY. They didn't care about streamers, or having the table all set. They didn't even care that I was in the kitchen scrambling to make frosting...because they were in the living room making memories by goofing around together.
I'll try to remember to post a funny story about my sleep deprivation from this week...those darn aprons took longer to make than I had time for (due to the aforementioned procrastination), so I had many late, late nights this week.
Special thanks to my friends who helped!
Thanks to Brooke for helping with sewing! She did one of the aprons, and helped undo the binding of one that needed to be resewn. What a huge relief it was to have her help!!!!
Thanks to Brenda, who had an extensive amount of cake making gear (and so many different kinds of sprinkles...the girls were in heaven!). Brenda also had some good ideas for how to handle this sort of party, since she is a cake-maker extraordinaire and has done this sort of event several times.
And thanks to Shannon, who babysat on the day before the party. Technically I paid her in babysitting co-op bucks, but I was late to pick up, and Shannon was so nice about it! I was so tired and frazzled, and it was a big help to run my last-minute errands WITHOUT kids!