November 12, 2013
2013 is a birthday party year. Growing up, my parents threw us a party with friends every other year. The “off” year we did something special as a family or invited one friend along on an outing.
My husband and I live quite frugally. We’ve never had a party where we have rented a room or had it a play gym. Maybe someday we will go that route. But right now we love opening our home to kids…and we’re both pretty good at planning games and activities.
Birthday parties are not just a time to celebrate my child, but also a time for friends to hang out together outside of school. It’s a controlled and safe setting for kids to play together. This is why I pour most of energy and finances into the activities and food. Not that cakes and decorations aren’t special and important. I am just not as gifted in that area. I don’t enjoy making cakes. I don’t look forward to it. To save money, I will make my own cake and try to enjoy the process as much as possible. My kids don’t care if it’s lop sided or the writing is sloppy…at least not at this age.
So I am going to do three separate posts about the parties I threw this year. One of the parties has happened yet. It is next week. One was last week. My oldest’s was back in September. So I will start with hers. Now I should mention we always try to pick a theme of something they are really interested in. We’ve done bugs, a backyard camping party, and a bulldozer/construction party. Since we’ve been letting my oldest stay up later on Sunday nights to watch the Amazing Race, we thought it would be fun to do an Amazing Race birthday party.
I have planned many Amazing Race events for youth groups so the planning was not terribly difficult.
For invitations I simply used the amazing race logo. I also got my clue sheets from the same website. The Amazing Race colors are black and yellow. I decorated our eating area with black and yellow balloons and streamers. I bought cheapie yellow table cloths, cups, silverware, and plates from the dollar store. I decorated the whole fireplace with signs from the Amazing Race show like “roadblock” and “detour.” But I also included signs you might see people holding in a race. All my signs were made with a large sheet of yellow butcher paper and a couple of black markers.
For the cake I simply made the Amazing Race logo on a rectangular cake. It was pretty easy–not that hard to mess up. Again I am not a cake decorator. You will never see my cakes on Pinterest. But my daughter did not care and enjoyed. it.
For the actual race, our original plan was to have it start at our house and end up in a park. But Oregon decided to have a very rainy September so we had to move the whole race indoors. We live next door to our church so we utilized our house, the garage, and our church. I got quite a few ideas on roadblocks or detours from this blog post from Million of Miles.
We put the girls first in partners. They first had to head over to the awning in front of our church and do a successful water balloon toss (back and forth three times). Next they had to run to an office door and pick up a clue. After they received this clue one of the team members had to memorize a poem and say it perfectly to a judge.
After they said the poem perfectly, they had to run to our garage. I had construction paper on the table with everyone’s name on a piece. The girls had to write 1-2 sentences about what they appreciated about that person.
Next they ran into the house and my friend had a box with small paper cups filled with snacks. At the bottom of five of the cups was a Disney Princess sticker. The girls had to find one of the stickers. They can only find a sticker by eating the contents in the cups. Some found one right away. Others were not so lucky and had to eat several cups of crackers and cereal. I tried to use all healthy snacks.
Then the girls had to run back over to church and could choose between two activities Baby Words or Baby Food. In Baby Words they had to complete a short word search with baby items (like crib, pacifier). I make my own word searches on Puzzle Maker. In Baby Food, each team member had to eat a whole jar of baby food. I was surprised the girls (most of who are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders) were very reluctant to eat the baby food. When I have done the same task with adults or middle schoolers, they guzzle it down.
After this task they had to find one more clue taped to a drinking fountain. Then they had to run to the finish line which was in our backyard. I had a box of dollar store prizes like a craft set, stickers, a princess puzzle etc. I let every girl pick out a prize, but I let the winners and second place finishers pick first. I did not do any special party favors. Each girl walked away with a nice prize.
The race took up the majority of the party. Afterwards we had pizza followed by cake and ending with presents. All the girls had a fabulous time.
I have learned with planning an Amazing Race event whether it’s a party or youth group outing requires a lot of adults to run the clue stations. I asked two of my middle school girls from the youth group I lead to help along with a family friend. They were happy to be involved. Between them and my husband we had tons of help. We don’t live near family so we have to rely on our friends.
It was a very busy but fun evening.