Bug,  party party

Cookin’ up a Cat-Themed Seventh Birthday Party

cat theme

Every year when I get around to making Christmas cards (and even on those years that I don’t) I start thinking up what kind of crazy birthday party I can throw for Bug. She’s totally spoiled but it is what I do. I like themed parties and I cannot lie.

This year Bug has requested a black cat theme. No surprise there. She’s only worn her homemade black felt cat ears for what? Six months straight now? Her teacher finally asked her to phase them out at school (they were a distraction to the other kids) which is fine but her love of being a black cat has not waned at all.

In fact she would like you all to call her Onyx now, not Bug. I told her good luck. She’s stuck with Bug until the end of time. But from time to time I do humor her and call her Onyx. Maybe on her birthday we’ll sing to Onyx and and ice Onyx on the cake. I can humor her on her birthday.

crazy fun


I’m super excited about the theme. We can make cat toys. We can eat food that look like cat treats. Kibble? Dead mice? The possibilities are endless. We can have cat games. Maybe I’ll pick up some of those little laser beam flashlights. It’s going to be fun.

You know what is not fun though? Trying to figure out a venue because you live in a small apartment with a white rug and you have an aversion to cake being ground into it. I’ve gone round and round with this like a puzzle piece in my brain that just won’t fit. Bug wants to invite her whole class this year and I just don’t know. She has some crazy kids in her class. There is no way I could contain them in my apartment. So I found a nearby park and then I started inquiring about bounce houses. To me bounce houses are the answer to all crazy kid problems of the world. Let them jump it out.

Little did I know this was not meant to be. The city I live in is very beautiful. The way they keep it that beautiful is by micro-managing it with an iron fist and many many many bureaucratic rules. It’s insane. First you have to fill out an application to put up a bounce house at the park 30 days in advance. Then you have to use their approved list vendors to order your bounce house. (I actually have no problem with that. It’s very thoughtful of them to help me narrow down my search.) Then you pay $33 an hour to reserve your space and $30 for an application fee. Then you add your bounce house cost, a generator and you pretty much get out the door spending five hundred bucks. I’m so not kidding. That does not include food or any fancy invitation. It’s like it’s a wedding.

I usually go all out for birthday parties, as you know, but I am NOT going to spend that much. That’s just stupid.

But that leaves me with a passel of crazy kids at the park that I might have to supervise. Can I do that? I want to invite her teacher too but will it be like another day at the playground? Should I buy a whistle? This scares me. I’ve never had a party at a park before. What about all the last minute details? I don’t want to be that crazy person driving back and forth (or yelling at someone else to drive back and forth) between my house and the park because I forgot 47 different things. You know how I am about details. The details have to be just right!

Think. Think. Think. Stupid puzzle piece!

I think my solution will be lots of activities. We’ll wrangle the kids into all kinds of different stations of fun. Relay races, crafts, a piñata in the shape of a giant cat toy, face painting! It’ll be crazy. I better enlist a lot of grown-up friends to help me out on this one. I’m gonna need it.


  • nicole i

    the first thing that popped into my head is outdoor cat party…cats like to out of doors. is there a non playground park nearby? what about the grassy knoll out front? instead of a bouncy house what about “cat & mouse’ games, cat face painting, scavenger hunts and the such. also at onyx’s age most parents stick around at a birthday party especially if they don’t know the parents. i don’t think you asked for advice but there you have it anyways!! and how is your baby 7!!!!

  • Linda Stewart

    I’m going to toss a ringer and I hate when that happens … BUT … what about rain? Is it possible your party, if planned totally outside, would be rained out? Maybe there is an arcade of some sort in the city where you live that hosts birthday parties, at a reasonable rate, and also has a party room where you can setup the actual party? OR maybe Bowling? Skating? something versatile to be both inside and outside, just in case?

  • deanna

    Does your apt complex have a meeting room or clubhouse available? A couple of the ones we’ve lived in have had little rooms available to reserve or rent.

  • Manda

    Chuck E. Cheese it is! Ha ha just kidding… but maybe not really bc planning MY kids’ b-day parties gives me HIVES. My kids’ birthdays fall 1 month apart and I’ve bee. So partied out from my 4 year old’s parties that her little bro (now two) has not had ONE party! Poor kid!

  • SAJ

    Yes, there is the weather issue. I think I’m going to put on the invitation: in case of weather the party will be rescheduled to the following week and if it rains that weekend too then I say, bah humbug. But it is Southern California so there’s a pretty good chance the weather will be sunny and beautiful.

  • Tina

    You can do it! Lots of games/running/races/relays will be awesome for them. You can do simple ones like where they bat a balloon, you could do a marshmallow on a spoon (or something else to make it more cat like). Even just simple run to one tree and back will go over well. A whistle may help, it’d be a fun way to start the races. Don’t let them overwhelm you, they’re just kids. You’re the grown up. Just talk loud and then wait if they’re not listening. And wait. Like you said, you’re going to just have to plan a detailed list, pack everything you’ll need up and then be ready to fly by the seat of your pants.

    OH! You could even do a giant game of tag, and call it Cat and mouse. One person is the cat, all the others are mice!

    You’re going to rock this party! I can’t wait to read about it. (And by the way, my son was born Jan. 13th, and I think I found your blog about the time both kids were born…how is it I’ve been reading you for 7 years now? And I never comment? Because I’m a hermit like that).

  • Lauren

    If you have ever seen the russian tea cake cookies/mexican wedding cake cookies/snowballs… apparently if you shape them into teardrop shapes they are called “moldy old mice” :-) I think that might be cute!

    Oh and have you see the “kitty litter” cake? Gross looking but would be appropriate and i’m sure kids would love it!

  • TexasLea

    Lauren beat me to it, the first cat themed thing that popped into my head was the litter box cake too! I also wondered like deanna if your complex had a clubhouse you could use.

    Another thought is to check with pet stores- we actually have one here that has a kids party room. That may be a cool place for a cat party. What about the local animal shelter? Ours has a meeting room, I’m not sure if they allow birthday parties there, but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

    As for games, you are right, there is a ton of things you could do! I personally would want to man the laser pointer game. That would be too funny to watch all the kids running around. Also having the kids go on a treasure hunt by following a piece of yarn strung all over the park to prizes at the end would be cute.

    I know you could come up with a super cute little “cat treat” label to put over those individual bags of goldfish crackers to serve or send home in goody bags. And what about having the chocolate Christmas mice you make from a marachino cherry and a hershey kiss?

    For the collars you should add jingle bells and write the kids names on washers with sharpies for their “ID tags”.

  • marcie

    We had my daughter’ b-day at a park and it was great. The party only lasted an hour and a half. (It ran longer actually, but that’s what the invite said.) And because of that all the parents stuck around. They didn’t have time to leave and come back so they were all able to keep a close eye on their own kiddo…

  • Jan

    I like the idea of making the party short enough that parents will stay. More food needed, but that’s better than trying to supervise that many children by yourself. If a parents start to leave, make sure you have a way for them to leave contact info in case something happens and you need them to come back right away.

  • Genevieve B. Shockley

    I live in Texas. Austin (Travis County), Pflugerville (Travis County), Round Rock (Williamson County) and Georgetown (Williamson County) are within 30 minutes of each other. My point is, besides the city parks, there are also county parks where there are a lot of sports fields, as well as playgrounds.

    So you might check to see if there are County Park/Playgrounds that are cheaper than City parks.

    Didn’t you take Bug/Onyx to a farm sometime around Halloween that was fairly close to you? Maybe they would have a cheaper rate, and allow the bouncy house. (They may not generate much other income during the winter months.

    There are also several wild-life areas around Austin. If there is such a thing in your area, they also might have some sort of inexpensive entrance fee, as well as a meeting room that could house the party. You could take the “cats” out on a hike and have them look for “prey”. If you are REALLY lucky, the “cats” might be allowed to climb on some trees, just like real cats would.

    Is there a library around, that might jut up against a park? You might be able to party inside, and have games to expend energy outside.

    All the best, and Happy Birthday to Onyx.

    Gen E. Shockley
    Austin, TX.

  • Penny

    You are so brave, the entire class! When my girls were small I let them invite one child for each year they were. Turning seven, invite seven kids. I can’t believe the cost of trying to have a bounce house. Wow! Can you request a few moms stay and help with crowd control? You throw wonderful parties so I am sure it will all turn out great!

  • mamalang

    I would add a comment to the invite saying that parents are encouraged to stay and enjoy the party as well. That way, you have at a minimum some adult supervision, but you aren’t mandating that they stay. We had an outdoor party for a four year old at our house on base quite a few years ago, and encouraged the parents to stay. Quite a few did, and it made it easier to corral them all.

    Good luck…you have the best party themes :)

  • Tacey

    My daughter had a kitty themed party 2 years ago. In addition to the cat-ear headbands, we bought cheap fur-like boas at the craft store, cut them into 2-3 pieces depending on length and a package of black elastic. Make a loop of elastic for their waist, tack on the kitty tail in one spot and voila- kitty tails for all the girls. They loved it. I’m not skilled at face painting, but we used a simple black eyeliner pencil to draw a triangle nose and whiskers.

    We also had a mouse hunt, I used a sharpie to draw little mouse faces and tails on plastic easter eggs filled with candy. Each cat had to hunt down X number of eggs to get their kitty treat.

    I look forward to seeing the pictures post-party!

  • Jen

    My girls celebrate their birthday with their whole class too. When I send cupcakes with them to school :P haha You know this whole party planning would give me a heart attack, but I think you have some great ideas. Venue is always so hard. One of the reasons I had such an aversion to parties back in SoCal was I never felt like I could contain or entertain any large groups of kids with our limited space. I hope that you have a super sunny day because, other than worrying about the weather, I think you have the makings of a really awesome party. I wish the girls and I could celebrate with you and Onyx :)

  • Britt

    Hey there —

    First: You’re doing it, so it’s going to rock.

    Second: As a former teacher, I say stations might be an awesome way to go with everyone coming together for Big Events like pinata, singing, cake. This way, the kids can move from face paint to craft to race … where there’s a designated someone (great use of your awesome neighbor kids) who will be guiding that activity.

    Good luck and it’s going to be awesome. As are you.

  • Miss Virginia

    Every year you blow me away with your creativity…actually, every DAY! You have great ideas (lots of activities, stations, etc), my only suggestion would be to make it not too long. Maybe only an hour and a half. That’s a LOT of time if you have a lot of crazy kids. You can pack a ton of stuff into 1.5 hours and things won’t get too out of control.

  • Helena

    We’re doing a kitty theme this year as well! Michael’s has this great super thick ‘pipe cleaner’ that we used for tails for cat costumes this past Halloween. . .it’s like 1″ thick at least.

    We’re also doing HENNA TATTOOS! The lady from the eyebrow threading place around the corner will do them. This is 12-14 kids in our apartment, what we’ve done every year since she turned 2.

  • Kuky

    Oh I cannot even imagine having that many kids.

    And kitty litter cake? Eeew. I’ve seen pictures before and really don’t get it. So unappetizing.

    But I like the idea of making it short so parents won’t leave.

    I guess I have nothing to add. The few parties we’ve had, we’ve done at a park, our place is too small for Alan’s side of the family.

    Oh, just thought of something. To avoid the crazy last minute driving back and forth, make sure you stick a to do list on your front door. And go early enough, so if you do forget something on the list, one trip with plenty of time to spare will do the trick. No panic that way.

  • Beachmama

    I didn’t read all the responses, but I say yes to the park and a whistle. And get a few teenager-helpers to assist you. I have held three parties with 20+ children and whistle is the best thing to get attention :)