Monday, June 17, 2013

Little House on the Prairie Birthday

One of my greatest joys as a mother is planning my children's annual birthday celebrations. The birthday child and I decide on a theme several months in advance, and then the brainstorming and collecting begins. For my daughter's 8th birthday, she and I settled upon a Little House on the Prairie theme. I will freely confess that I planted this idea in her head a couple of years ago, when she rejected it, but over time she came to think that it was a great idea and I was delighted when she chose it as her theme this year.
Most of the guests embraced the pioneer theme and arrived in old-fashioned clothing, with aprons and bonnets and smocking. So cute and creative! After a quick group photo (very proud--this was the first year I actually remembered to take one!), I divided the 15 girls into two groups, simply to make things more manageable. Half of the girls began at the "Washing Day" activity.

When is the last time you thought doing the laundry was fun? Let me tell you, these girls had a blast using an old wash tub and washboard and scrubbing vintage doll clothes before hanging them up to line dry using old wooden clothes pins. I've never seen clothes get so clean, and with such joy! The parents all joked that I missed the boat--I should have put out my real laundry for the girls to wash!

The other group learned to do counted cross-stitch, using vintage embroidery hoops and some pre-printed linens that had the cross-stitch pattern marked on it. This activity took a little time to get the hang of, and some of the girls expressed frustration that it was too difficult, but their frustration soon turned to triumph as they mastered the stitches.

You could see their little X'es becoming more even as they went along, giggling over their dropped needles (I recommend not doing this activity in the grass--talk about finding needles in a haystack!) and knotted threads.

After switching places so everyone could try both activities, it was time to move on. One group worked on painting small wooden candlesticks while the other group made peg dolls out of calico scraps, lace, ribbon and acorn caps for hats. The finished products were adorable, with little ladies wearing lace bonnets and aprons, babies dressed in gowns, and men in hats and ties.

After the girls had completed both of these crafts, we moved onto our picnic cloths to play a quick game of Memory before eating. A silver tray held eight vintage items and the girls had a couple of minutes to study the tray as I explained what each item was. Then the tray was covered with a calico cloth to hide all the objects.

Each girl then received a piece of handmade paper and a twig pencil, and was instructed to write down all the items they remembered being on the tray. This activity really stumped the girls but they seemed to relish the challenge.

By now, the girls had worked up quite an appetite, so the next activity was dinner time! Each child had a light meal tucked into a small tin pail. The girls happily ate their dinners on the picnic cloths before assembling on the patio for singing Happy Birthday to the birthday girl and eating homemade cake. One girl totally made my whole afternoon by taking an enormous bite and then loudly exclaiming, "Whoever made this cake is AWESOME!"

After cake, the girls each had an opportunity to shop for party favors at the General Store. I had arranged an array of old-fashioned goods among some vintage props, and the girls were each given an allowance of three wooden nickels to spend in the store. These nickels were extra special, for instead of a buffalo head, they featured an image of my daughter's face, framed by her pioneer bonnet.

My daughter played the role of shop keeper, and guided her guests through the store, helping them to select their goods. Each child received the following favors to take home:

a small slate and slate pencil (I taught my daughter to use that language instead of simply saying chalk! Details matter to me, what can I say?),

a personalized sewing kit that I had made out of a Ball canning jar, containing interesting vintage buttons, a needle and a wooden spool of thread, colorful quilt pins, a couple of vintage safety pins, wooden thimble, and directions for stitching their initial on the pincushion top of the jar,

and a small bag of candy sticks. I was touched by the number of children who politely asked if they could have an extra for their sibling at home. At least that's what they told me!

Each child was also able to choose one other item, either a small wicker basket, a vintage picture frame, or a wooden ruler.

I loved every moment of this party; it was so much fun for me and the kids. A lot of planning went into it but it was worth it because it ran smoothly and effortlessly. Of course, I could never have pulled it off without help and there are many who contributed to its success. My daughter helped with brainstorming and practical chores like painting and gluing the wooden nickels, and friends pitched in to help supervise activities and took some beautiful pictures of the party. My husband kept the adults in attendance fed and watered, and also helped set up for the event. Even with the help, though, I practically collapsed into bed after it was over and woke up the next morning with a splitting headache! Still, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. And in fact, I probably will do it again, when my younger daughter is just a little older. I do enjoy a good recycled party!

And speaking of recycling, tomorrow I will post more about how I used nearly all thrifted and repurposed goods to craft this magical party for some very sweet little girls. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!

No comments:

Post a Comment