I have so many pictures and things to say about Isobel’s party I’m going to break it up into two posts to give your scrollin’ finger a break. This first post is going to deal with the nuts and bolts of the party; the set up, our ideas, our theme. If you’re looking for party inspiration or want to know how I narrowly avoided a visit from a clown, you’ve come to the right post. The next party post will focus on the ridiculousness that occurs when you get a bunch of toddlers together, stuff them full of cake, and then let them run around for a couple of hours. In short, hilarity.
If you remember, there was a lot of back and forth discussion in the family about what to do for the party. My MIL loves a good party, and not only that, she loves to throw a good party. I am not exaggerating at all when I say some of the best parties I’ve ever been to where thrown by my MIL. House parties, dance parties, birthday parties, family parties—Anthony’s whole family really knows how to have a good time, and Anthony’s Mom especially, knows how to organize it. And Isobel is just the light of her life. When she thought ‘birthday party’ she wanted to pull out all the stops: bounce house, clowns, face painting, free ponies in the gift bags.
Anthony and I wanted to do something small and simple, so there was back and forth trying to come to an agreement but you know, every child should be so lucky to have a grandparent so involved in their life, so invested in their care and happiness, that they would be excited to organize an entire circus around their birthday. And even though my MIL desperately wanted to go all out, she was always respectful to Anthony and me.
We decided to go with a bubble theme, but I use that term very loosely. For example, I looked for bubble-themed invitations, but I didn’t like any that I found. I took some photos of bubbles incase I wanted to turn one of those into an invitation, but ultimately I decided to go with the invitation above, which I made in Photoshop. It doesn’t obviously scream BUBBLES! but I liked it the best. Honestly, we could have gotten really involved in this bubble theme, but we decided that what we wanted most was to relax and enjoy the party. We played fast and loose with the bubble theme and that worked for us.
We hung lanterns and used polka dot tablecloths and streamers to play on the bubble theme. We purchased a bunch of small beach balls online, as well as two large red balls the kids could fit inside of. They were round! Like bubbles! But more importantly, the kids loved them. My MIL also sprung for an inflatable bowling set, which the kids loved but didn’t use as intended. It didn’t match the theme, but we didn’t care.
Anthony’s grandma insisted on cooking the bulk of the meal, even though well over sixty people were there. This is no big deal for Grandma: she can host a party for 100, do all the cooking, and not bat an eye. We were willing to hire a caterer but she wouldn’t hear of it. She made her amazing rice and beans, salsa and condiments, and my FIL cooked up meat for tacos that we bought, preseasoned, from a dive restaurant in Ceres that makes the most amazing food. People would not stop raving about the tacos.
Along with the balls, of course we had to have… bubbles. These were a big hit with all the kids, no matter the age group.
I love that even the very little kids knew exactly what to do.
At one point, Angela caught Isobel with her hands wrist-deep in the bubble solution, pretending to wash them.
We covered one of the tables with butcher paper and my MIL purchased a bunch of paper crowns for the kids to decorate. We had crayons and jewel stickers and adhesive letters. All the kids loved these, even the big kids.
A couple people made crowns for Isobel, which was really sweet.
Here’s another shot of the giant ball.
Everyone loved the giant ball.
The swing set had been installed in Grandma’s back yard as a Christmas present to the kids. We have several young children in the family right now. Party goers took full advantage.
We had ZERO kids throw fits at this party. It felt like a miracle, but I also think it was due to the fact that there were so many different activities to engage them. The only crying is remember is when Noah, a two year old himself, had to go home. He didn’t want to leave the bubble party. How can you blame him?
The cake was a regular sheet cake from Costco. We could have gotten all theme-y with it, too, but we liked the cheerful rainbow on it.
So there you have it: how to have a relaxed, no fuss, lightly themed-birthday party.