I love throwing parties and events. I have been known to construct a killer model of the Star Wars “Star Destroyer” from bamboo and tin foil to use as a decoration for my son’s 5th birthday party. I don’t really trend toward the ‘custom water bottle label’ or cute food signs, but I do appreciate people who do. I just rarely have time to go that far and many of our guests are kid-sized, and I’ve learned that they really don’t care.
My son turns 7 this month and requested a sleepover party. He’s been to a handful of sleepovers at the homes of some close friends, and of course, with grandparents and his aunt and uncle, but we’d never had a full-blown “SLEEPOVER” before. Here’s how it went down, in case you ever think of throwing one for your little buckaroo:
Note: Since there is a lot of strong feelings about sleepovers for kids, I decided to create an info sheet that I handed out to all parents that listed our contact info, home address and reminded them of the pick up time. I also asked each parent to fill out an info sheet for us to keep that had similar info and asked about food allergies etc. Since there were a few parents who we had never really met, this helped everyone feel a little more connected and assured parents that we could be easily reached if we needed to be. I highly recommend the ‘info sheet’ tactic!
Who to Invite?
My son has a birthday during the last week of school, and right around Memorial Day, so we opted to hold his party a weekend before the actual event, in order to ensure a good turnout. He is lucky enough to have a small class (9 or 10 boys + 10 girls) and so, to avoid hurting anyone’s feeling, we invited all the boys in the class and two other boys who he rode motorcycles with on the weekends. (Little dirt bikes, not giant actual motorcycles. That would be weird!)
I had asked his teacher how we should proceed with distributing the invitations (I didn’t have any mailing addresses of the boys) and she suggested sending them to school with my son, and she’d send them home in the weekly homework folder. Cool! I automatically felt like that step alone beefed up the ‘street-cred’ of my son’s party.
Unfortunately, my son had a few spare invites and started inviting older kids who were not in his class while hanging out on the playground.
Who are you again? RSVP tracking!
On the invites (thank you, Etsy!) I had listed my cell phone as well as my e-mail address, both of which I can access from my smart phone, which is, embarrassingly, constantly by my side. This helped me respond quickly to any parent RSVP questions or concerns.
I stated getting voicemails from parents who I did not know, and whose child’s name was unfamiliar to me. This is how I learned my son had gone on an invite-rampage on his playground.
This made it tricky when it came to goodie bags, since I had ordered quantities based on the number of kids I had thought had been invited, versus the REAL number of kids invited. I spent the last week crossing my fingers that I would have enough supplies. It turns out we had only two ‘Sorry, we can’t make it’ RSVPs.
We also had two boys ask to bring their big brother along too. This brought our grand total of boys (including my son) to 12.
Feeding the Masses
I am not an amazing cook but Pinterest has been awesome at giving me some great mealtime ideas. (Or “recipes” – I guess that’s what normal cook-people call them!) We were doing a ‘camping’ theme and I wanted to do something simple for dinner (the boys would be showing up around 4pm). Hot dogs it was!
At first, I planned on roasting them over our mini (and by mini, I mean, smaller than a normal-sized bike tire, MINI) fire pit. But then I remembered that I had only done that a few times, and a party is no place to be the gallant ‘watch me try out all these new ideas’ girl. I needed to just keep it simple so I could also try and enjoy myself more than I did seven years prior when I was trying to push out a giant baby.
I opted for the fabulous Stephanie O’Dea’s hot dogs in a crockpot method and simply tossed my Costco purchase of hotdogs in the crock (no water is needed) and turned that baby to ‘Low’ for 2-3 hours. Mine were actually done a little early and so I turned it to ‘warm’.
I learned that cooking hot dogs by crock pot turns them a very strange and unappetizing color! Maybe it was the brand (Hebrew National) or maybe they really did cook too long. All I know is that I was so lucky that I was feeding a bunch of hungry boys who could seriously, care less what they looked like!
I also gambled with my bun purchase, and bought fewer buns than dogs, since most kids I knew usually only wanted the dog and skipped the bun. From an 18 pack of buns, we still have 10 left and only had 7 hotdogs remaining, since the boys scavenged them for seconds around 11:00 that evening.
Games and Activities
I am a big-time planner, but with my new full time job (feel free to catch up on the mommy-goes-back-to-work drama HERE) I really did not have the time or the energy to give this party the ol’ college try.
Still, there were times I got to do a little research online, and thankfully, I had spent two summers as a camp counselor at a sleep away camp, so I tried desperately to think about fun games from my past. My goal was to keep the little guys busy since there was a high possibility of homesickness with boys so young.
The birthday boy had requested a piñata, and since he loves swinging a bat in little league, I thought, “Sure. Why not?” It wasn’t until after I had paid a ridiculous amount for shipping and the festive contraption had arrived, that I remembered that our big tree in the backyard had been cut down over a year before. Crud. Where the heck would we hang that thing? I decided to delegate the issue to my husband and hoped he would be the amazing problem solver that he usually was and moved on to other things.
When the little rabble rousers arrived, they were all super excited and spent at least the first 90 minutes bouncing around at the loudest possible level that they could. All Nerf guns were utilized and my back door was slammed so many times I’m wondering how it’s still on its hinges. Certainly, no activities were needed.
Then we gathered them up for some hot dogs before they turned even a weirder shade of gray/brown.
After a festive dinner of hot dogs, grapes and little bags of chips, I noticed that all the boys happened to be in one place at the same time, so we ended up diving into the present-opening session.
These kids will be getting the most generic thank you cards since they formed an impenetrable circle around my birthday boy, making my mom-task of writing down who got him what, nearly impossible.
We put the gifts aside and few guests decided that they’d like to open them and play with them, before I swooped in and rescued a few. I didn’t think that my son’s new Lego sets would be the best thing to open and construct at a sleepover with 12 boys hyped up on crazy boy-fuel. (A.K.A. Boys being 7) so I moved what I could to our bedroom for safe keeping.
Outside, Everybody, Outside!
We had decided to do s’mores instead of a birthday cake, and although my son agreed to this, we totally forgot to do the whole ‘put a candle in it and sing Happy Birthday’ part. Things were just moving along too fast and too loud for normal brain functions to occur. He hasn’t noticed that we skipped that part yet.
My son’s amazing first grade teacher stopped by the party and made a celebrity appearance. She brought her two adorable baby boys and assisted with the s’more making. At first she and I tried to roast a bunch of marshmallows and construct the s’mores without the boys, since they all seemed to be having a great time running around. We also figured this would keep the number of burn injuries down.
But the boys sensed the fire and came running over to see what was going on. I had purchased some pretty cool roasting forks online and so we loaded them up with marshmallows and let them have at it.
No one suffered any burns or injuries, which was pretty miraculous, since they were all crowded in around the little metal fire pit in shorts and flip-flops. Not to mention that they were still nearly shuddering with excitement and constantly moving and/or shouting.
Soon the boys discovered that the marshmallows could catch on fire and dissolve, and quickly we burned our way through an entire bag of mallows. I think only 3 boys actually ATE a s’more, and I had about a dozen that we had lovingly stacked and sandwiched left on the tray even the next morning.
Lesson learned: Boys would rather burn stuff than eat stuff. At least s’mores are cheaper than a birthday cake!
Ready for Part 2?