Birthdays as the kids get older

As kids get older, many things change. No longer do they need you to get them a snack or pick out their clothes. As you would expect, their tastes in TV shows and books change as do their friends as they grow up and experience more.

So it is no wonder that birthdays also change. Many parents throw birthday parties for their kids when they turn one. The party of course is more for the parents as the baby has no idea what all the fuss is about. They are all about playing with the boxes and smashing cake with their fingers.

We never did big parties when our kids turned one or two. In fact, they only had parties with us and the grandparents until they turned 5. Then it became parties where you invited their whole class. I use to like doing them at party places as they seemed to be less of a hassle, and I got to enjoy the party rather than run it. (I even wrote a post about that. Click here to read it.)

The inviting the whole class worked for a few years. And then we would just invite the boys or girls – depending on if it was Jase’s or Lexie’s party. And three years ago, we moved to having the parties at home. It gave us more creativity with their themes.

Jase did an awesome Army turned Lego party followed by a How to Train Your Dragon party. Last year, he just invited a couple of friends over for science experiments, video games and a water balloon fight. His birthday is tomorrow. We celebrated with family yesterday, but he is going with some friends to a bowling/laser tag place this coming weekend to celebrate.

For Lexie’s home parties, we first did a Minecraft themed party and this year it was Pokemon. Next year, we will probably try to scale her party back to maybe just a few friends. Or perhaps she will have a sleep over.

Jase next year will be in middle school. And with that, I imagine parties will end. Of course, Lexie is quick to point out that teenagers can have parties too. I just don’t think we will be making that a yearly thing.

I know college students and adults who still throw parties for their birthday. And if the kids want to do that, I am not stopping them. It just isn’t something I have every done. My last birthday party was when I turned 21. It was also my only surprise party. (And the day I got engaged.) I’m perfectly happy celebrating with a dinner out with the family. But we will see as the kids get older what they want to do.

A How to Train Your Dragon birthday party

My oldest turned 10 this month. We began having parties with friends when he turned 5. The first few parties were thrown at party locations. But last year, we did a Lego Movie party at the house. It was an awesome party complete with an obstacle course, target shooting and a water balloon fight. We obviously set the bar high with that party.

HTTYD invitationThis year, Jase wanted a How to Train Your Dragon party. (The invitation I created for him has been very popular on my Etsy store.) Jase had a pretty good idea of what he wanted done. It was up to my husband and I to make it happen. Soon our biggest concern was not the party but the weather. It poured during the week but on party day, we lucked out with no rain.

Here’s a rundown of his party…

Shield Decorating

P1040567What Viking doesn’t need a shield? My husband cut out these round shields from thin sheets of wood and painted them grey. He attached leather straps on the back and made some dragon stencils. The kids (six boys and two girls) had fun decorating them.

Treasure Hunt

2015-05-16 09.25.26Next we sent the kids on a treasure hunt. We divided them into three teams and gave each one a dragon egg (actually, it was an Easter egg painted either gold, black or grey). Inside was the clue to their next egg. The next clue led to another egg but also had the first number to the combination securing their treasure. They gathered three eggs – each with a number to their lock.

I had written the clues and created a map that would help them figure out where in the yard I might be talking about. I had worried about my clues would be too hard (or even too easy), but they turned out just fine. The kids had a blast working together. Their treasure boxes held candy and leather wrist bands that my husband had created.

Obstacle Course

P1040587At last year’s party we created an awesome obstacle course. This year’s course was a little shorter, but the kids had a blast. First, they balanced on the zig-zag beam (while the other kids threw balls at them – hey, they needed to use those shields for something). After that they weaved through a series of “trees” and hopped on stones over the “lava.” Then they dodged two fire balls before jumping over the sheep hurdles. Discarding their shields, they had to toss two fish toward a dragon’s mouth (laundry basket) before lofting a battle hammer. They then struck two different targets before crossing the finish line. Most kids ran this in less than 30 seconds.

Pizza and Cake

IMG_3274Next came pizza and root beer. We had planned for them to eat outside, but it was so humid, and the kids were hot from running so we opted to have them eat inside at the table where they had decorated shields. After that was the cupcakes that I had made and topped with How to Train Your Dragon rings. I made the butter-cream frosting from scratch and that will be my recipe of the month in June.

Sheep Toss

2015-05-16 12.10.57My son wanted to have a game with sheep – perhaps chasing them. My husband had the idea of shooting stuffed sheep out of his air cannon. What we ended up with was me creating 30 sheep (29 white sheep and one special black sheep) out of poly fill and panty hose. (This idea came from my snowballs from their holiday party.) I attached paper legs and faces with googly eyes. (Template for the faces from this website was reduced by 65% to fit my sheep.)  They were super cute. We threw them in the air for the kids to catch. The kid with the most sheep won, but the black sheep counted as five. The first time we did it, the black sheep was hidden in the yard but on the following rounds, it was tossed into the air with the rest of them.

Sword Play

P1040620At the end of the party, we just released the kids with some foam swords and their shields to have some free play. Some of the swords didn’t survive, but they just came from the dollar store, so I wasn’t expecting them to last.

Each kid went home with their goody bag, shield, wrist band, the red basket from the sheep toss and a sheep (or two) and a dragon egg if they wanted them. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and the birthday boy was happy. This party was a lot of work. Next year, I think we will go even smaller and just have Jase celebrate with his two best buddies.