The theme of my life right now seems to be that I need to learn how to simplify things. I'm just too tired and grumpy to be really fun right now! So Espen's party was definitely a bit scaled back in a lot of ways.
To start with, instead of designing all of the invitations and party decor myself (or with the help of design savvy friends), I came across this fully printable, science party kit from Paper and Cake. The design was much closer to what I had in mind than anything I was able to find online (a lot of what I saw seemed to imply that you either have to be mad or nerdy to like science, which is honestly kind of lame), and I liked that it was such a complete package that I ponied up the cash and thanked my lucky stars that we have a decent printer.
|The Birthday Boy himself liked his party, so that's a win.|
We kept the decorations really simple, and didn't really do much beyond this banner and a few signs here and there. In the past, we have always done helium balloons as decorations and party favors, but Espen and his friends just seemed a little too old for that this year (sniff, sniff). The kit comes with a million billion cute things you can cut out and make decorations from, but we just didn't feel the need for a 90 minute party for a gang of kindergarteners. As long as there is cake and friends, they're happy!
|Goodness, this picture is awful, but it does show you what the banner looks like!|
|Bacteria blobs: jello and sprinkled in petri dishes.|
While we kept our party decor simple, we did put some thought and effort into the food, including all the hokey names on the little labels. I tracked down some food-safe petri dishes (like these ones on Amazon, except I found them a little cheaper locally) and filled them with jello. Then we added sprinkles while the jello was still setting, so the colors bled and left a kind of cool, bacteria growth-looking effect. These were definitely the hit of the party!
|Rice Crispy Clones.We just cut them as similarly sized as we could, and that made them cloney as could be.|
Our family also loves rice crispy treats, so we whipped up a quick pan of those, and they were gone before we knew it. I may, or may not have had a lot to do with that!
|Purple protons: grapes. We removed the stalks so they would be easier to grab and look more sciency.|
I always like to add a lighter, healthier option, so we went with a bowl full of grapes. The kids didn't eat a ton of them, but the grown ups at the party (lead by the two pregnant ladies and Gwen) polished them off pretty quickly. I didn't get a picture, but we also had a bowl of popcorn (Molecular Munchies!) to counteract all of the sweet stuff.
|That's an Erlenmeyer flask! Apparently.|
Espen is really into citrus flavors these days, so I made him a lemon cake with layers of fresh strawberry jam (homemade, you guys!) and covered the whole thing in whipped cream. Then I babbled some instructions at Nick, who deftly drew this Erlenmeyer flask design and decorated it with sprinkles. You should know at this point, that one of my best friends in the whole world is the most incredible cake decorator, so I always feel like a complete idiot when I post pictures of anything I bake, but I'm going to declare this cake a success anyway. It was cute, fun, on theme and completely delicious, so I was very happy with it.
|Taking a break from the partying for cake and snacks.|
At 12 kids, this was the biggest birthday party we have thrown to date, and while Espen and his friends definitely loved it, it was kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, they needed zero entertainment and were happy to just play and run around for the duration of the party. On the other hand, 90 minutes of rampaging five and six year-olds is enough to bring anyone to their knees! We had planned to do some fun science experiments with the kids, but quickly decided that it would be too hard to try to gather 12 kids and hold their attention long enough for anything other than cake and presents. So I think we'll keep activities like that to smaller parties in the future!
|So many kids! Espen got a Lego kit as a gift, and everyone wanted to help build it. |
So they all took turns placing one brick at a time!
|Thanks for coming to Espen's laboratory!|
When it was time to go home, we rounded everything off with party favors. My favorite part of those were these test tubes (These are similar, but again, I found them much, much cheaper locally). You can't really tell from the picture, but they're actually pretty tiny. So tiny, in fact, that the jelly beans I had planned to put in them wouldn't fit, and we had to go with M&M Minis instead. I love how they look, and also like that the kids got to take home something they could play with and reuse once the candy was gone.
|Thanks for coming!|
Then we bagged them up with a few other sciency little things, like glow sticks and little maze toys and a few other bits and pieces and slapped on a quick laboratory label and called it a party!
As I mentioned earlier, it was definitely a lot simpler than the parties I have thrown in the past, but I am learning that turning myself into a complete stress ball over these things isn't always the best thing. I do sort of regret not taking more and better pictures, but at the same time I don't regret that not picking up the camera meant that I was a much more present mom for Espen's party. My family loves it when I make an effort to make their birthday special, but they don't love it if it means that I'm grumpy and preoccupied for days before the party. So I'm learning to find that good balance!
Most importantly, Espen got to have a fun party with a lot (a lot!) of his friends and enjoy the special day he'd been looking forward to and planning since his last birthday. And, almost as importantly, we're off the hook until Gwen turns four in November - when she has decided she wants a Superman party!