The newly minted 6 year old wanted to get together with his friends and have a special group play-date to celebrate his birthday.
Right from picking the venue from the 3 choices we gave him to checking the RSVPs; from listing possible things to make for the party favors to actually making them, the kid was fully involved. I like it that he can make up his mind quickly and stick with it. I wasn't that sure about anything when I was six.
Hand-made things are much-valued in our house. The 8 year old doesn't feel happy to wrap up a birthday present for her friends unless she has at least one small hand-made thing that she has put some thought into and the time and effort to make it. The 6 year old has been the same way since that first set of Holiday Cards he made for his friends when he was not yet 3.
Making the party favors was the highlight for the kid during the previous weekend. He wanted to include 6 items in the goody bag as he is six. Much like five items when he turned five and 4 items when he turned four. He did agree that he will break this trend when he turns 7 and come up with something new.
Being partial to eco-friendly re-usable things, it wasn't hard to assemble the items for the party favors. Especially when the kids were keen on doing most of the work.
1. Rainbow I Spy Jar: Much like the I-Spy Jar he made for himself when he was little. Assembly-line precision is his game. I re-purposed a few used plastic drink bottles from the reycling bin.
From choosing the food colors to use, to mixing the color in the rice to make the filling for the jar; from selecting things to put in the I Spy jar, to laying out containers with the chosen items for assembly; from scooping and pouring the colored rice through the cone-funnel in rainbow order, to tucking in a few extras in each jar so there's the surprise element, the kid was completely in-charge of this item, and loving it.
I simply printed out labels to go with the jars with a short list of items to spy and attached it to the jar. So, it wasn't much work for me at all.
2. Six Stories CD: After the usual bedtime reading, most nights he also listens to music or stories-on-tape in bed. So, he wanted to make a CD of stories for his friends.
Initially, he wanted to make up his own stories and have me record it. But, knowing how wild and long and convoluted his original stories can get, I steered him towards just reading his current favorite books.
But that proved difficult as he has a zillion favorites, most of which were non-fiction. So, to make things easier, I suggested that he choose six fiction picture books, short and fun and rhyming.
That proved just as hard as well. So, I offered to choose 3 from our bookshelf for him, while he could choose 3 from the current batch of picture books we had checked out from the library.
This worked out well. We finally had six fun stories he read aloud which I recorded and burned a CD.
I made the CD labels. The kid helped make the CD "cases". We had a bunch of Marble Papers from various times that we do it at home. Shaving Cream Marbling is one of the staple favorites at home: after the first few beautiful prints, the kids love the sensory experience of just playing with the shaving foam and making a mess, which is fine.
3. Polka Dot Sidewalk Chalk: Both the kids love sidewalk chalk and they love drawing either on the easel blackboard or the sidewalk. They are always on the lookout for fun chalks. When we came across these polka dot ones at Michael's it was settled. These were the chalks his friends would love to have.
4. Wood Stamps: If there is one thing that I can't easily walk away from, it is wood stamps. I love the variety, I love their versatility, I love the potential they present... and looks like some of this has rubbed off on the 6 year old.
Rather than just some random design, the kid zoomed in on the alphabet set of stamps.
When he was still working on his writing skills but had so much to write down, he found the alphabet stamps at home very handy. Simply pick out the letters that made the sound he wanted, and stamp it on the paper. Lo and behold! He has written.
I still treasure the "i luv mumu" card he made for me at 4 - his first card with those words - stamped on.
I did pick out some design stamps for the siblings of his friends who were joining us for the party, I couldn't resist.
5. Seed Paper: We called it "Friendship Paper: Plant it and watch it bloom!" On and off we make hand-made paper at home. Add a little seeds to it and we have seed paper, ready to plant. It looks like we default to seed paper for both kids' birthday as it is in Spring and 'tis the season to plant.
The kid helped tear up the unwanted papers and soak them in water to make the pulp. Then, scooped some pulp into my mesh frame to make the paper. We let it dry by the vent. Then, cut the seed paper into heart shapes and attach a label and it is good to go.
6: Friendship Book: At first, the kid wanted to write a book. But, I talked him out of it as his books tend to be too elaborate. Then, we talked about how fun it would be to make your own book! So, we decided to make a sort of acrostic poem-ish activity book that his friends get to fill out and customize as they like.
Along with the alphabet stamp, this would be a fun activity for the recipients, hoped the kid. I printed the pages and used a paper-fastener to hold the pages together. For some reason, the kid prefers brads to stapler... and I think it might have something to do with the ease of adding more pages to his existing book...
7. Fabric Goody Bag: Last but not the least, he wanted a reusable fabric bag for holding all these lovely goodies. I sewed them quickly. His sister helped add the cinching ties.
The kid wanted to personalize each bag. So he stamped a rainbow fish. Used his alphabet stamps with fabric ink and stamped the names for each of his guests. And the sibling's name if they had any.
Plus, knowing how much both my kids love to label their things, I printed a few custom-design name labels for the friends and tucked it into their goody bags. The 8 year old girl loved making the flags using the printed label, chopsticks, and some Scotch™ tape, to go in each bag.
All in all, a fun day with friends, with parents catching up and getting to know each other better while the kids filled the space with their collective energy and warmth.