Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lil’ O’s Firefighter 4th Birthday Party

My sweet little boy is now four years old. He is sensitive and kind, silly and wild. He is book-ish and loves to pretend; mostly he runs and pretends he’s coming to save the day in some capacity. Lately, he’s really into firefighters. Our new route to preschool each morning must pass our local fire station in hopes we get to see the firefighters and one of their fire engines. Thankfully, it’s only a block out of our way, so doesn’t add too much time to the mad dash of our mornings. So, when looking at possible party themes, it was a natural fit to give our little man a firefighter birthday.

The Roster
In an attempt to keep the party more manageable than the last birthday party we threw, we kept the invite list short. Really short. We only invited Lil’ O’s best “buds” from preschool. Five of his buds, plus their families, ultimately joined us. The eight kids we invited are the ones he spends the most time with and the friends he most wanted at his party. This was hard for me. I still want to invite our friends, especially those with kids at or near Lil’ O’s age. I had to relent though that this is his party, not mine, even if I’m doing all the planning and the bulk of the execution. Ugh, growing up is hard… for me too it seems.

The Food
We kept the food simple and easy. Matchstick pretzels and a cheese plate with crackers to start, then hot dogs, hamburgers and fruit salad for lunch. For dessert, I attempted to make cupcakes with frosting piped to look like flames. Ha! This was my first time piping frosting and it did not look like flames. Putting it nicely, it looked more like orange blobs. And, I somehow ended up with bits of freshly food-dyed orange frosting everywhere – my clothes, all over my hands, sprayed onto cabinets … disaster. So, after I cleaned up the mess, I ended up just spreading the frosting like one normally would. Oh, well. Thankfully, the cupcakes themselves tasted amazing. I found my new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. It was delicious and vegan! We had one little girl in attendance with a slight egg allergy, plus I wanted to have a sweet treat for my vegan sister who came over for the celebratory family dinner that night. We certainly polished off any cupcake leftovers!

The Games
My lil' firefighter extinguishing the flames!
While the kids are all from preschool and accustomed to each other, I didn’t feel comfortable taking for granted that they’d just play nicely if I didn’t plan something fun for them. They are three and four year olds after all. I wanted to do a firefighter obstacle course, but realized that somebody would likely fall and get hurt; and, with our ER luck, it’d probably be Lil’ O. I also liked the idea of making fire trucks out of boxes and hosting races, but then I thought of all the work that’d be and kept scrolling through Pinterest for ideas. The big winner was to decorate spray bottles as fire extinguishers and let the kids loose in the backyard putting out fires made from foam craft paper and stuck around the yard. It was a hit and helped water some of our plants! I was prepared with a ball for hot potato as a second game, but the kids were so happy with their “fire extinguishers” that we didn’t even bother introducing another activity. Mom win!

The Décor
Probably my favorite part of pulling together a party is the bit of decoration and fun that points back to the party theme. I need a theme to keep me focused and Pinterest has a wealth of ideas once you plug in some thematic search terms. From there, I picked my favorites that fit into our party budget and the amount of effort required. I prioritized items that could be used again, such as rain boots as flower vases that doubled as a gift for Lil’ O. And, my parents came through with a pop-up fire engine tent as a gift that doubled as a fun plaything for the party. The kids kept “washing” it with their squirt bottle “fire extinguishers.” It was pretty cute.

Most importantly, Lil’ O really enjoyed himself and is now so happy to be four. There were a few days when he didn’t want to turn four, because “he so enjoyed being three.” The party (and, I’m sure, the presents) helped cure him of any hesitancies that four would be anything but great. Phew!

Welcome wreath with flat garden hose and fire hydrant cut out on card stock.
Firefighter rain boots (with mason jars inside) serve as flower vases now and boots later.
Lil' Chica gets in on the action!
Fire extinguisher squirt bottles and firefighter hats for the kids
The pop-up fire engine tent was a big hit!
Chocolate cupcakes with orange (non-piped!) frosting
Party favors: Adorable little plush firefighter dalmatian pups