I figured out how long the movie was, then factored in 10 minutes on either end for bathroom breaks and other distractions. Then I subtracted that time from our 9 p.m. deadline. Then I factored in the approximate time each activity would take and then I had a very good schedule to work off of. I knew when the kids needed to start eating dinner, have cake, open gifts and head in for the movie. With a little fudge time between each activity it all worked out quite perfectly and the movie ended at 8:55. Not long after the parade of parents began to roll in.
I think we had 13 of 21 invited girls come, which was great since we mailed nine of the invitations and they never arrived to their destinations. We ended up sending out a very hasty email with an explanation about what happened with the invitations and a copy of the invitation to all girls who never got an invitation the night before the party and all but one of them came. A happy turnout.
You can see how we DIYed a table and benches using bi-fold closet doors, sawhorses and cinder blocks. We had benches on three sides of the table and the table is huge and made room for lots of stuff. It is three 12-inch panels across. We also rigged a couple of other benches that run along the back wall of the patio.
We're still updating the scheme of all that, it needs to have the edges painted and we need to treat it so it can withstand being outside. The Man was setting this up just minutes before the party started, but it sure worked out great and gave us a ton of seating. Thanks Habitat For Humanity ReStore and thanks Pinterest for the inspiration.
I had grand ideas for all the decorations I was going to make and of course, realistically with my schedule that was a pipe dream. I did pull out two of the large blackboards I made a few years ago that were still packed away to make a welcome sign for the front entry and a Happy Birthday sign for the dining room.
So when I popped in to Dollar Tree to get balloons for the party, I decided to check out their decoration section and was more than impressed with the fun options. I couldn't resist picking up some pretty party garlands, tissue paper flowers and more. At a dollar a pop it's hard to stop. But I got a bag full of decorations that I will reuse for the most part, plus got party hats, streamers, a bouquet of balloons and much more for just $30. Such a deal.
We decided for food that we'd ordered Dion's pizza and salad which is an Albuquerque institution and one of our favorite places to eat. I placed on online order and The Man picked it all up a few minutes after the party had started. We had drinks in large supply out in the backyard, lots of water bottles and CapriSun pouches. The Man picked up a cake from Costco the day before that fed the entire party, plus enough leftovers to send some home with friends and still have plenty to nibble on for the rest of the week. It really was not that big of a cake...now that I think about it, maybe it was a half-sheet size, which is 18" x 13". Thinking back, it was really a challenge to get it in the fridge.
I also had big plans that we would do some really cool craft that all the girls would "ohh" and "ah" over and I was totally rejected on that idea by The Bug. She was very insistent that everyone just wanted to run around in the backyard. I'll give her credit, she was totally right and it was hard to get them to stop running around, giggling and squealing to actually eat, do cake, presents and come inside afterwards. Despite my sense of rejection on the creative project (sad face -- but sort of relieved too), it seemed it worked out perfectly.
So we let all the girls run around the property for a good hour, then we gathered at the table for pizza and salad. We went right into cake and ice cream and opening presents after that. Then we herded everyone up into the living room to watch Big Hero 6. It was amazing how much the chaos and noise died down once they headed in to watch the movie. It was fun to hear a gaggle of girls giggling at the funny parts.
At that point, The Man and I did a little clean up and pretty much collapsed after that. At 9:30 when everyone had gone home, The Bug asked me, "What are we going to do now?" I laughed hard. Not sure what she was expecting but we had not made plans for a Hollywood-style "after party". Ha. So we sat and looked at the kind gifts again and talked about how fun the party had been and soon headed off to bed. The Man and I were incredibly tired! But so glad we worked so well together to make such a nice party for our kiddo. She's still talking about how much she enjoyed it, so I think we hit the nail on the head for birthday party celebration this year.