Hushpuppy turned 2 this weekend. I’m still not certain how she went from this to that in two blinks of an eye, but it happened.We wanted to celebrate, but as I spent a lot of effort on her party last year, and I also figured that this is the last year that she won’t have strong opinions on the matter of birthday parties, I swore to take it pretty easy this time around. We decided to have the party at home and just to invite half a dozen fellow toddlers who she enjoys playing with. I settled on a music theme because I thought that would both be easy for decorations and provide a lot of entertainment for the kids.
My first purchase was a bunch of inexpensive instruments – maracas, castanets, and wrist bells – which I put into little envelopes for the kids to pick up when they arrived so that they could play with them during the party. Basically, they got the party favor first thing. Here’s Hushpuppy showing off the little packages.
For decorations, I went almost all homemade. I bought a package of disco ball ornaments, which I hung from the ceiling with some paper cut out music notes I created from an online template. I got a package of colored felt and cut out shapes, which I glued to an old white sheet, and then I duct taped it to our existing rug to make a “dance floor.” We made good use of streamers, colored paper, and balloons.
For the party food, I went all snack-ish, as it was a late afternoon party. And, also, toddlers love snack food. I tried copying a sandwich “piano” I saw on Pinterest, but I couldn’t find any pumpernickel bread anywhere, so it didn’t really “read” as a piano. But, I did like the music note sugar cookies. And, the xylophone cake was my big project. It was my first time using fondant, and I was relatively pleased with how it came out. Oh, and I decided to deviate from the standard “yellow cake” this year for something more interesting, so opted for this recipe for “Hummingbird Cake,” (just the cake, not the frosting – I couldn’t figure out how to make it dairy free) which I thought was pretty delicious.
I spent some time making a playlist of upbeat songs that I thought toddlers would enjoy. It was a combination of songs from kid’s CDs I owned, a few that I picked up from the library, and adult songs that worked well for children. I made sure to have some “action” songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” etc., but honestly we didn’t make much use of those. My attempt at getting the kids to “Hokey Pokey” turned into a few mothers looking a little silly while disinterested kids looked on. I did some searches to get ideas for adult songs toddlers might like, so if you happen to need any inspiration, a few of the ones I settled on were “If You Want to Sing Out” by Cat Stevens, “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “ABC” by The Jackson 5, “1234” and “I Feel It All” by Feist, “Roar” by Katy Perry, “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M, and “If I Had a Million Dollars” by The Barenaked Ladies (by the way, I started playing around with the idea of having an “If I Had Million Dollars” theme birthday party for myself where we eat Kraft dinner and dress in green dresses, but I haven’t quite fleshed that one out, just yet). The playlist took me awhile to put together, but I love it so much that it’s going to be our go-to music for a long time.
On the day of the party, I cleared our living room of most of Hushpuppy’s toys, leaving just her instruments, some balls and blocks, a dress up box, and a couple of other things for the kids to play with. At the last moment, I remembered that I had some bubble solution in the garage, which I dragged up, and good thing, as the bubbles were probably the most entertaining aspect of the whole party for the kids. The parents spent so much time blowing bubbles, I wish I’d invested in a bubble machine!
I also covered our dining room table with butcher paper and put out some craft items like markers, googly eyes, pom poms, etc so that the kids could decorate their own “shakers,” which were just cardboard paper towel tubes in which I’d put some pasta and covered the ends with tape. The kids had a good time with that, as well, probably more with just drawing on the paper than actually doing the craft. I mean, they are only two.
Other than the one organized craft, we really just let the kids play, dance, and enjoy as they wanted. It was everything I’d hoped from this year’s party – easy to manage, joyful, and festive. And, most of all, befitting a two year old and her noisy, fun-loving friends. It was a great way to ring (and shake and rattle) in two years old.