Olé! A Fiesta Birthday Party at Home!

by Shawna Five. It sounds like a big year, doesn’t it? Sure, the ones ending in zero are the major milestones now that I’m an adult, but it’s a HUGE deal when you hit your first five-year increment. You're baby's no longer a baby.  Your baby is FIVE.

This year my daughter turned five. As a child born early in the year, this is her first birthday that she’s been in school and had a relatively large peer group. In all her previous birthdays, we did celebrations with just the family, but this year we decided to also have a “friend” party.

We looked at the options of various venues, but didn’t really consider them for long. I wanted to have an old-fashioned, at-home party, and this concept was cemented when Sage asked for a Mexican theme, which would be hard to come by at the generic party places.

This being our first party, there were a lot of decisions to make. How many friends should come? No word of a lie, the trend in her class seems to have become “the whole class”. We decided that there was no way we could handle that in the middle of winter when our choices were limited to stay inside or deal with all the outdoor gear for each child. In the end, we managed to stick close to the time-honoured rule of thumb of “Age +1”. We went over by one, but one child was leaving early and one arriving late, so the numbers stayed relatively even.

The whole thing was relatively quick – noon to three on a Sunday so as not to cut into other weekend activities too much, but providing lunch (one of the easiest ways to make a theme feel authentic) gave parents a break from making a meal. Everyone arrived, the kids played for a bit while the final touches were put on the main course (hard and soft tacos and three types of fruit (pineapple, mango and strawberries), then we did a round of pin-the-tail-on-the-burro. During our “overlap” window of having all the kids there we did dessert (rainbow sherbet, a huge hit with the kids; or vanilla frozen yogurt with homemade chocolate sauce, a huge hit with the parents that had stayed) then, the highlight of the day, bashed a piñata into submission.

I’m going to digress here for a moment…

I tried to make a piñata. I really did. Sage wanted a bumblebee and so I got a balloon and made paper maché and everything. It took a whole evening, the flour-and-water “glue” I made on the stove reminded me of a bowl of hot snot, and what I made looked like this the next morning.

Apparently, when you put the paper and paste on when it’s hot, it causes the balloon to expand. Then when it cools the balloon contracts, and if the paper maché isn’t dry yet, well, it gets all wrinkly like this.  Who knew?

There were several more layers that needed to be put on before I could decorate it. My husband went to a party store and one of the first things he saw was a bumblebee piñata. He bought it and I am grateful. And I still got to buy good candy to put in it because they don’t come pre-stuffed (something I didn’t know before). The end. Back to our regular programming…

After the piñata had been broken open, all the candy was deposited into a sombrero and duly doled out in equal portions into the loot bags, along with a small packet of microwave popcorn per person. (Why popcorn? Because kids usually love it and because it’s native to Mexico. Kids in the Capital: come for the party ideas, stay for the botanical history. But I digress again.) There was just enough time left for Sage to open her gifts and thank them before the parents showed up en masse to cart their children home.

 All-in-all, I’d have to say this was a successful party. It was busy, fast, most people seemed to appreciate the food (a couple of the kids were suspicious of the tacos: one child – I can’t eat this; me – why not honey?; the child – because my mom doesn’t make this), the games were surprisingly well-received, and when things were over the place wasn’t the disaster zone I’d feared it would become. Plus two moms asked for my chocolate sauce recipe. That, in my books, is a successful party. Here’s hoping next year goes as well!

Shawna is mom to 5-year-old (!) Sage and 2-year-old Harris. She has been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a photography blog. While perhaps crafty, she is apparently not very craft-y.