My first mistake was opening Pinterest. During my morning workout I suddenly remembered that I had not planned any games for my daughters 5th birthday. A birthday party that was going to happen that afternoon! So I cut my workout short (yea, an excuse) and went to Google “mermaid games”. What appeared on the screen in front of me made me realize that 1) a mermaid party theme must be a common request for a 5 year old girl and 2) I was failing at the birthday party component of parenting.
People had posted pictures of their daughter’s mermaid parties which consisted of purchasing matching outfits for all girls in attendance (can’t have the guests clashing with the color scheme, especially if it’s going on Pinterest), a buffet of ocean-themed food all matching the said color scheme, purchasing new chandeliers because they look like bubbles, and games that involved pearls and treasure chests and jewels! I was just hoping for a pin-the-fin-on -the-mermaid type game.
Fearing that my five-year old would be scarred for life because she did not have pillows made to look like oyster shells, I managed to find a few games that I could create in the 20 extra minutes that I had before the party. We had dance class and then had to get to my parents house (where the party was being held) before her friends arrived.
I dropped her off at dance class and hopped in the car with hopes to get to Walmart and back before the class was over. I had driven about a mile when I felt my car shuddering, something which has become all to common. I was out of gas! (It’s really not totally my fault because my gas gauge doesn’t work! Really I swear it doesn’t!). I coasted to a stop and called my husband and waited watching my extra 20 minutes tic away.
My husband arrived with just enough time for me to pick up my daughter . I grabbed her and we were off to Walmart to purchase snack and game items. Now I had seen some amazing food ideas online for a mermaid party. octopus hotdogs, candy sushi, crab shaped sandwiches, mermaids created out of carrots and lettuce, etc. etc.; the creativity is endless. I opted for the food that every mermaid craves: pizza! At the last minute I decided to throw in my own ocean-themed food just to show that I wasn’t a total failure at the themed birthday party, so I grabbed some fish crackers and Swedish Fish. Perfect!
I arrived at my parents house just as the first guests were arriving but thankfully my mother had set up things for me. The kids all ran in and began their coloring projects (mermaid crowns for girls and for the boys a pirate picture which I had, again last minute, printed out as they were sitting down). Three and a half minutes later they were done so we moved on to the games. I spent about 4 minutes reading a story to the kids who were all standing 6 inches from the book because “I can’t seeee…” Then we did a balloon game that I had improvised from my web search that morning. I called the balloons bubbles and had then dance around and then when the music stopped they had to do the action that the balloon had written on it (yes, feel free to copy my creative ideas…). It worked great for about 30 seconds then turned into chaos. But it was screaming, laughing, fun chaos so I let it go!
Bubbles were next. We went outside and they blew bubbles for 2 minutes then spilled the rest on themselves and the ground. Thinking that the two hours must almost be over, I glanced at the clock and saw that only 20 minutes had passed. Then I remembered food! So I herded them back inside and we ate our gourmet mermaid meal of pizza and juice boxes. Only 3 of the 8 kids spilled so I considered the meal a success and moved on to the cake.
My daughter’s cake was truly amazing if I do say so myself. Actually I do say so because I had nothing to do with its creation! My mother got the cake at a local bakery. It was a sandcastle cake with little fondant mermaids on the side; really cute! We sang “Happy Birthday”, took a bunch of pictures, and carefully cut the cake because it was so beautiful (it caved in after about 4 pieces so I abandoned the careful part). The kids ate the cake, drank more juice boxes, and grabbed handfuls of Swedish Fish. Another glance at the clock made me realize that there was still an hour left and the noise level was rising by the second.
Then I remembered why I had held the party at my parents house to begin with: a swimming pool! So I yelled “who wants to go swimming?!!” and the kids went crazy! There was a mad dash to put on suits, sun lotion, find towels, get swimmies (yes! 7 more minutes used up) and they were in the pool. Us moms sat by the side and breathed a sigh of relief because even 5 year old’s have a fairly long attention span in water. But then, “can you fix my goggles”, “he splashed me”, “that was my floatie!”. Oh well…
All in all it was a great party. So my pictures or party ideas will never make a Pinterest board. The guests didn’t match, the food and games weren’t creative, chaos reigned, but my daughter had a good time. So did her friends.
And that’s what matters.