On Saturday, we finally got to celebrate Dacey's fifth birthday with her long-anticipated Red Bird Birthday Party.
She turned five at the end of January, but an ice storm demanded we cancel party day #1. We attempted a reschedule for mid-February, but a yucky bout with RSV canceled party day #2.
And so the third time was, indeed, quite charming.
I got Elizabeth Mitchell's You Are My Little Bird in January, and it has played constantly since then. We were thankful to have her provide our background music:
When I was a child, my mother always made elaborately hand-decorated cakes for each birthday party. I have fond memories of thumbing through Wilton catalogs with her, inspired and amazed at the cakes to be created.
I think for nearly every one of the girls' birthdays, I've deferred to a professional for cakes or cupcakes. I decided it would be fun to try a little one for the friend birthday party this year. The result? Well, it made me giggle a lot, but when I showed Dacey, she said, "OH! I LOVE IT!" and I think that's probably what matters most.
My incredibly creative, helpful, and generous friend Julia came over on Friday and helped me cut out dozens of red birds from felt. We used this template from Skip to My Lou. Red birds were everywhere.
Swooping through the dining room/office/art gallery (I have no idea how/what the weird reflection thing is in this shot):
View from beneath:
Popping in contrast against an overcast early spring morning:
A bird's eye view:
Birds on a wire (or yarn, as the case may be):
I had been deliberating on what to do as party favors. I knew I wanted some kind of red bird something, but just couldn't decide what to do. I bought several bags of red feathers from the craft store with the idea of the girls making red bird puppets from brown paper bags.
But Julia saved the day with a much better idea. Bookmarks! (More on the way this fits in with the party in a moment.) Julia is a scrapping queen and in her bag o' scrappy goodies, she had a sweet little heart die-cut. (that's what they're called, right?) We decided a heart could be made into the body of a bird and that half-hearts could be used for wings and a little birdie head.
We used the feathers as toppers and I provided stickers, buttons, and markers for other embellishments, and turned all eight girls loose:
The finished products!
And then we did cake and juice, and the guests thought the cake was quite delicious (strawberry cake with strawberry icing and raspberry preserves in the layer between the two round cakes. I thought it was way, way too sweet, but five year olds are generally less-discriminating when it comes to birthday cake, I think.).
NOW then. A word about gifts.
As you may know, I've been thinking a lot about clutter-free approaches to gifts. I wrote about it at Simple Mom, and I'm pretty sure I got this idea from the comments on that post. I can assure you I didn't come up with this on my own, but I LOVE how it turned out.
I told each of the mamas of the party guests (all are sweet friends of mine) that we have more than enough toys and other stuff in our home already. For this party, I invited each of them to send their daughters with a wrapped book for a book exchange. In other words, everyone brings a book and everyone goes home with a book.
Voila! Clutter-free! (I simply cannot consider a new book to be clutter.)
The girls drew a number from a cup and the numbers determined the order of the book exchange. (The Birthday Girl nearly went into meltdown mode when she drew #4 and not #1, but her Daddy was close-by and got her back on track.) All of the girls seemed genuinely happy with the new books they chose, and I think they thought it was pretty neat to get to open a present at someone else's party!
I don't have pictures of that because I forgot to mention this was our first drop-off birthday party, meaning Kyle and I supervised all eight girls for an hour and a half.
Sometimes you have to put down the camera.
And that would be why I don't have pictures of our final activity: making pine cone and peanut butter bird feeders. This was easy. I took all of the girls out to the yard where a fresh crop of pine cones were waiting for harvest. Each chose one for herself, and then we came back inside.
I glooped peanut butter onto each pine cone, and then one-by-one they dropped them into a brown paper lunch bag of wild birdseed. Kyle shook up the bag which coated each pine cone, and then each girl retrieved it and dropped it into a fresh paper bag labeled with her name.
So, yeah. No pictures of the process, but this is how they turned out:
In the few minutes left at the end of the party, the guests played in the girls' room and jumped on the indoor trampoline. When the mamas came to pick them up, each guest got to leave with a new book, a made-it-myself bookmark, and a bird feeder for the birds pecking around in her own yard.
And what was I left with? Very little mess to clean up, no pressure to find more space for more toys, and one very, very, very happy Birthday Girl who told me it was truly the best Red Bird Birthday Party ever.