Fonticulus Fides

Friday, August 01, 2003

If I could make a living at it, I'd be a professional birthday party planner for kids.

Seriously, I'm more excited about Zooey's fourth birthday party on Sunday than he is. And he's pretty darn excited.

His favorite theme for most of the spring and early summer for imaginative play was dragons, castles, swords and shields. I got him a prayer card depicting St. George slaying a green dragon, and he thinks that's just the best (although somehow he decided that "When St. Hubert was a little boy, he was St. George." Some sort of need to combine his favorite saint with the exciting picture on the prayer card.).

So, we are using that castles/dragon theme for his party. We filled the dragon pinata last night, and the kids will take turns wacking at it with a toy sword and shield. All the goody "bags" are little boxes with turrets on either side to look like castles -- I've got two done and they are looking pretty good. Five more to go. Inside, we're putting a ring lollypop, two large chocolate coins, a kazoo and a bag of mini Oreo cookies, at Zooey's request. Plus whatever candy each kid gathers from the pinata. I'm usually much more restrained with candy (I tend choose granola bars and fruit juice snacks), but this time I let Zooey have more of a say.

Instead of party hats, I'm making capes out of adult-size t-shirts for all the kids. It's easy -- you just cut off the front and sleeves with pinking shears, leaving the neck, shoulders and back intact. I'm sewing an ornate button on the front center of each neck hole to look like clasp. I've been to three thrift stores to find each kid's favorite color in a shirt that is still in good shape, but I think they will all be very pleased. Every kid needs a cape.

The cake will be a castle, too. I baked the turrets in empty soup cans last night. The center will be a standard 13x9, cut in half and stacked, with a round turret on either corner, each topped with an upside-down ice cream cone for the peaks. I was going to make a drawbridge out of sugar cookie dough, but it's not worth mixing up a whole batch, so I'm just going to use chocolate frosting to "draw" it on. Zooey wants the castle to be red, but I think I'm going to try to talk him into light brown (half chocolate, half vanilla mixed together) and then frost the turret roofs in red as a compromise. Red frosting just takes sooo much food-coloring paste, and I'm never able to get the nice cherry red I'm looking for (the Wilton set of colorings I have has a magenta color that you have to mix with a little blue and a little yellow to get a decent red).

We're also going to have a go at sticker jousting. We have two stick ponies, and I envision the kids standing at opposite ends of the house and running at each other astride the ponies, trying to put a sticker on each other's shirts. Zooey and I tried this out using his foam baseball bat (a Nerf-line one with a plastic handle) to hold the sticker out (sticky side out with just a bit turned in on either side to hold it to the bat) and it worked just fine. But I haven't been able to find another foam bat yet. I'm toying with the idea of using a pool noodle, cut in half, as the two jousting rods (jousting stick? jousting lance?). I'm also having trouble coming up with appropriate knight/castle/dragon stickers. They may be stuck with smiley faces or something like that.

Siiiiiigh. I still have quite a bit of work to do, but I am looking forward to it. I want my kids to have great memories of their birthday parties, and even though we're doing a lot, it hasn't cost us very much. About $35 so far, with just a few little things left to buy, like ingredients for punch and the foam bat if I can find it. It will be around $40-$45 in the end, which isn't bad at all for a kid's party with six children and ten adults invited.



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