artsy fartsy,  Bug,  party party

Birthday Party Build-Up


You know, having a birthday in January is pretty awesome. I know back when I first discovered I was pregnant and calculated my due date, I was afraid. I thought it would be a terrible thing to have a birthday in such a dark winter month right after Christmas. I imagined that we’d be so over presents and festivities that her birthday would get overlooked.

Who was I kidding? Me over presents and festivities? That’s like asking me not to breathe. We might be a little strapped for cash in January but that never stopped anyone in my family from planning the perfect theme party.

January is the perfect month to have a birthday. If anything, it helps us get through the winter months with something fun to look forward to.

making a count down chain

An aside about my child’s rat’s nest hairdo: We were on vacation and that is what her hair does if you just wake up and don’t comb it every fifteen minutes. We call it rockstar hair. I used to have a complex about her hair. It’s so fine and is messy more often than it’s brushed. I thought everyone would judge me and think I didn’t love my child because she always looks uncared for. But then one day I saw a magazine spread about some rockstar’s kids. There they were in their Gucci outfits with their Prada shoes playing with their organically hip toys with HORRID MESSY HAIR! Except they didn’t look like ragamuffins, they looked like happy kids. So I decided to get over Bug’s messy hair and call it rockstar hair.

making loops three straws are better than two

As you can see, Bug is making a paper chain. It’s a count-down-to-her-birthday-party chain. I thought Bug would make one of these in school for Christmas but they didn’t. They probably don’t hype the holidays as much as I remember when I was a kid because of all the political correctness. So I figured, why count off days on the calendar every day when cutting up a bunch of strips of paper is just as easy? And it was a simple craft that she could do pretty much by herself while I busied myself in the kitchen with dishes or something.

As you can see it went perfectly with a cup of hot chocolate with THREE straws. Don’t ask. It’s because I keep the straws in an easily accessible spot and she helped herself. I probably should enforce some rules about that but I figured it wasn’t going to hurt. We rarely use straws so tripling up now and then is not the end of the world.

so many days too tall

She made the chain pretty much all by herself. Backwards numbers and all…it was a good exercise in number-writing and following a pattern. Bug is a freak about color so she needed very little encouragement to make a color pattern. In fact, it was her idea and I had to calm her down when she skipped a number and we had to throw in a lone green loop to keep from having to start all over again mid-chain. The horror! A green loop in the middle of things! It’s a good thing Bug has me for a mom because I am the queen of not being a perfectionist and I can help balance out her type-A tendencies. Shrug it off, I say. Though I’m sure we’re doomed to a lifetime of not understanding each other.

almost SIX!

Anyway, we’re on the countdown. You know what that means: Party-planning time! My favorite time! I couldn’t care less about the actual party. If I could be invisible at the party and just hover around watching everything and taking pictures, I’d be much happier. But of course that’s not the way things go. I have to actually socialize and eat. Such a burden. Ha ha. Just kidding, mostly.

fairy party planning

Here are the beginnings of the process. We’re having a fairy party in the backyard. I’m going to let the grass grow and pretend it’s an overgrown wonderland. There’s a pine tree in my front yard that badly needs cutting down so my dad is going to take a chainsaw to it and save the stumps for chairs. I hope it doesn’t rain.

I’m calling the party “Six in the Sticks.” Why not!? We might as well capitalize on that happy coincidence.

clearly, I am insane

I’ve made the invitations that included cutting out about thirty-seven hundred little Bug fairies. Yes, I am insane. But these little insane things make me happy. I’m a very happy insane person with sore hands.

holy hand cramp

It’s a Bug army! (thanks to an instagrammer for that line)

fairy party invite

I attached tissue wings (glitterized with a few finger-swipes of glitter glue) to the Bug Fairy and then taped her to a brown paper invitation with a funny fairy poem and some stick graphics along the sides. It actually worked out pretty well.

planning page 2

I’m trying to play up a woodland version of fairies instead of all that bright synthetic Disney crap. I had enough of that last year. In my vision I would have girls romping in Victorian dresses with gossamer wings and brown paper fox-head masks. Maybe the fox-head mask is a little weird. I don’t know. I secretly want to grow up and be a photo stylist for Vogue but fairy parties is where I channel that frustration.

wire flowers

Then it’s all tied up with a half sheet of transparent vellum and tied with these really cool wire flowers that my mom bought for me last year from some half-off clearance sale at the local fabric store. I think they turned out pretty cute. Now I’m just worried they’re too fancy.


I have a little bit of a dilemma. I wanted Bug to invite two or three of her best friends from kindergarten but we couldn’t figure out which girls to invite. She likes one girl very much but I know when I drop her off that there are at least two or three others who are so sweet to her. They always make a special point of saying hi and shouting across the playground at her. Many of them comfort her when she’s crying and having anxiety attacks about school. I couldn’t figure out which girls they were so I caved and invited all of them. Thirteen girls!!! I can’t handle thirteen little girls!!! I really hope they don’t all show.

I’m worried that when the parents see this super fancy invitation they are going to think they can score some swag at some rich kid’s party. Big surprise they’re going to get when they roll up to my classy mobile home. But I’m hoping that since her school is way on the other side of town that most of the kids won’t come. Is that how things work? Most of the parents are much younger than me and I don’t think we have much in common. I don’t know. Toby promised to pay for a bounce house so I’m hoping that will handle all the kids.

But what if it rains?!!!

In other news:

1. I have a little giveaway going on my review blog for anybody with a new baby. It’s kinda fun.

2. I have not finished that heartfelt, big, meaningful post that I promised you. Every time I promise something it seems to be the kiss of death. Ugh. The thing is that it is not my story so I’m trying to sort out the details with a friend whom I’m writing it for. I did promise her I’d write it though so I do really really want to keep my word. You’ll see when I finally get it done.

3. I’m almost done with the SAJ poster. Super-sleuthing spy-sentence hunters: your prize is almost done! Stay tuned!


  • KelleyD

    So so so sweet! I love the invites! My one experience with inviting a whole class of kids was that out of the 15 or so invited, 5 came. They had some siblings in tow, so the surplus of food wasn’t AS much of a surplus that it could have been. I was still pawning pizza off on my BIL and SIL though to take home though. The worst though was the fact that the vast majority of the people who did not attend did not RSVP either, so I could not plan either way. Hence extra food, would have rather had too much food and had to get rid of it than too little!
    I can’t wait to see photos from the party! Remember to get something to cover at least the tops of the stump stools so there aren’t any sappy bottomed kids or parents!

  • karen

    The biggest surprise about little-kid birthdays now (as opposed to when I was a little kid four-zillion years ago…) is that the parents *stay*. It could be that my kids were little right after 9/11 and we live the once-shadow of those towers, but I still thought it was freaky and I was wholly unprepared. Those parents got Koolaid and a couple of bowls of mixed nuts that I happened to have in the cupboard and were lucky to get that – they’d RSVPed for their kid and didn’t say anything at all about themselves.

    I think your invites are great and *LOVE* that you’re letting the grass grow…it will be a magical party for sure!

  • Heather

    We are down with the rockstar hair here too. I try to keep my daughter’s hair pulled back to prevent tangles but sometimes I get lazy. And she is ALWAYS asking to leave it “flat”. I don’t really worry so much about what people think as I do the drama and tears that come with brushing it out.

  • Christine

    You know, you should really really market your skills as a party planner. You’re amazing.

    Good luck with all the little girls. At least it’s not 13 six-year-old boys. Would that be worse?

    Can you bug them to RSVP so that you have a good idea of numbers beforehand?

  • Helena

    Wow, these look amazing!

    Different context (NYC), but here parents stay unless the invite specifically notes “drop-off party”. We do with-parents party, which means beer, food, and lots of people. It’s really fun, but not what most folks have in mind for kids parties (I grew up in a Latino family, so there were no such things as “kids” parties, only “family parties”).

    And Brenda, no joke; if you wanted to do party planning, *I* would even pay for it. We’re trying to do a Harry Potter party for my almost 6yo, but all of her peers have NO INTEREST in HP. There are a couple of 7-8 year olds that do (exactly 2), but I’m a little stuck as to what to plan for.

    I think my kid is not really thinking there will be potions stations or crafts of anything, just decorations (big tissue paper ball/flowers in house colors and maybe the plates and napkins) and maybe the invites (plentiful on etsy).

    Bug’s party looks beautiful, and a bouncy house will be thrilling!

    And, re the hair: we are about to cut B’s hair to punk-rock short (as a newborn she had amazing hair that stuck straight up in the air) and plan to donate it. eek!

  • flyingbird

    You are amazing with the party planning, those invites are so special. Our kiddo also has a January birthday, but outdoors isn’t even an option out here (guaranteed lousy weather, too cold!) and I always wrestle with deciding on a home party with the chaos and post-party-exhaustion or just giving up and having it at a bouncey play spot and slinging pizza at the kids. I am always envious of summertime beach & park parties! You have a wonderful vision for the fairy party and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

  • Ninabi

    I love reading about your parties. Honest to goodness, if you published a book about all the wonderful events you’ve created over the years, I would buy it.

    It’s going to be a wonderful 6th birthday. Can’t wait to hear more details!

    Bug’s hair reminds me of my own daughter’s hair at the same age- but she looks adorable with her long hair.

  • Ellen W

    Now I want a fairy woodland themed birthday for my upcoming 34th birthday. Most of the parents stayed at my son’s recent 6th birthday and my son usually wants me to stay at the parties he attends even when he knows most of the people there.

    I purchased a set of stainless steel straws on Amazon (for less than $10) since I was tired of throwing them away. They can go in the dishwasher as well.

  • Madge

    Great theme. The invites are beautiful. Today we’re celebrating Pix’s Sixth. The extent of our celebrating is making her queen for the day (she makes all decisions regarding food, entertainment, etc.) and I’m about to make her a cake from a box. Thank goodness we have your parties for my kids to enjoy :P

  • Wendy

    Bug is so lucky to have you for her Mama! You are such a wonderful party-planner. (And, I cannot believe Bug is almost 6! Happy early birthday, Bug!)

  • MichelleE

    I love the paper chain countdown. I think I’ll do that with my 17 and 14 year olds to countdown till Spring Break!
    Can’t wiat for the calendar!! (hint hint).
    Happy early birthday to Bug!

  • TexasLea

    Cute invites! I would want to come to Bug’s party if I got one of those! In my experience at least 1/2 if not more of school kids invited never show up. It is also pointless to add RSVP to the invitation because they never do. I can’t wait to see more details as they emerge for the fairy party, you always do such amazing things!
    I like the Rockstar hair! My kiddo wears the same do’ and sometimes I even sport it myself. ;)

  • Cath

    Wow!Wow!Wow! I just don’t understand why you aren’t being paid megabucks to create these theme parties. They are just awesome. Have you considered putting fliers in the letterboxes of people with mega bucks and see if they may pay you to do this? You could then dress your rockstar in Gucci, and jazz up the mobile home on the wrong side of town too!

  • Jenna

    Oh I so love, love, love those invites!!!!! I think your party plans sound awesome (as usual)…don’t even worry about rain. If it does, work it into the theme: call it a magical appearence of the rain fairy….invite them to play (if it’s only warm and sprinkly kind of a rain). With you at the helm everything will be perfect (even if not exactly to plan). Can’t wait to hear all about it. :)

  • Susan:)

    The party beginnings look beautiful and magical so far! I agree, I much prefer the woodland fairy theme to the pink and glittery fairies! So much more special. You could make fairy houses! I’ve seen some make with sticks and pinecones and other natural materials, and I have seen some made with the simple wooden birdhouses they sell at Michaels for a dollar, which the kids can paint and decorate how they want. Also, you could have the kids make fairy dust with colored sand and glitter and put it into tiny bottles or jars! I love the stumps! Oh, I wish I was having this party!!!! I can’t wait to see what else you do! Your parties always look like such fun! Very inspirational!

  • Beachmama

    I just love watching your parties unfold! The invitations are fabulous and I am sure the party will be more of the same. I always thought J’s summer parties woul be not well attended so we always invited lots of kids…..of course they always all came, 16 was our top count!!

  • simply heidi

    Your invitations are amazing! Sadly, they will probably entice all the girls to come. Be sure to ask friends to be some party helpers so you can enjoy yourself.
    We had a fairy tea-party for my daughter when she turned six. It was so much fun! The girls started off doing a good deed (making pinecone/peanut-butter/bird seed bird feeders) and reciting a fairy oath (something silly I wrote about being kind to nature). That enabled them to earn their wings. Then they planted lollipop seeds in the yard (candy sprinkles I put in little homemade seed packets). We did a craft and had a fancy tea party on our patio. After the tea, the girls found that the seeds had grown into dozens of lollipops sticking out of the grass. It was like a little Easter egg hunt. One of the most fun parties we’ve ever had.
    I can’t wait to see what amazing things you come up with!

  • Rebecca

    It’s crazy how excited I am for this party and I am halfway around the world from you! Your invites turned out BEAUTIFULLY! You are so insanely talented and Bug is SO lucky to have such a creative mom! Can’t wait to see how you translate your sketches into reality!

  • Auntie Keren

    Too bad I didn’t tell you in time; just leave the ‘time’ off the invite…you’ll get called by those who want to come. It might seem underhanded, but in this day and age of sloppy or non-existent RSVP-er’s, it’s what you have to do. That way you know who just tossed your invitation in the trash and who is really interested. Next time!

  • Kuky

    I’m playing catch up. Or attempting to. I have barely turned on my computer in weeks.

    Ok…what was I going to say? I remember now, I love seeing what you come up for Bug’s birthday!

    And umm what else was I thinking as I was reading your post…oh yeah, messy hair. Isabelle always wakes up with messy hair. But when I give it a brush it generally will stay ok for a day. I try to brush it daily, not only because of it looking like a rat’s nest, but also because if I don’t the knots are horrid. But secretly, quite frequently she’ll go days without me brushing it. But I do try. :)