It might be winter outside our door- but just a few days ago it was 60 degrees so these photos might look outdated but they aren't THAT far gone. (Unlike the non-existent birthday posts I've been meaning to post since April.)
A few weeks ago we hosted a Woodland Party. It was on-again, off-again for several weeks and spit and sputtered into reality, making it feel spur-of-the-moment when it had been in the back of my head since summer, when I had originally hoped to have it. But summer slipped by, covered in slimy tomato seeds and I knew if I put it off any further it wouldn't happen at all.
We don't have 'birthday parties' for the children but the goal has been to have themed parties every now and again instead. It's been far too long since the last one! (In my defense, we did move into a fixer upper!)
The object was to get some local homeschooling families together to get to know one another better and to give my children an opportunity to turn acquaintances into friends as only time together will do. The guest list was topped off at 54, though there were several other families we had wished we could have invited as well. One must eventually stop the invites, right? Only six families represented that guest list. Awesomely fruitful families, am I right?!?! ;-)
Three important decisions at the outset: First, it had to be a costume party. (They are the very best kind of party, after all.) Second, the party would have to be inexpensive to host and third (and most importantly), it would be one which would not be stress inducing. ( I am prone to making hostessing such a big deal that I wind up stressing instead of enjoying. This is something I have been working on.) I am happy to report, it succeeded at both points.
Having a party after Halloween meant I got to score Halloween clearance at 75% off to be used for the party. Popcorn balls for pennies and my childrens' Halloween candy for prizes. Pumpkins to decorate the porch (after the few measly pumpkins we grew rotted) for .50 or $1.00 each. Dozens and dozens of Glo-sticks bought for about $3.00 in total. Very handy, indeed.
We used scrap fabrics from my stash (anything woodsy I could find) and curtains from the boys' room to decorate tables. Matt cut wood slices for me from some logs we had lying around and Andrew let me use his abundant supply of antlers and deer skulls. I raided the toybox for all our woodlandy plastic animals and raided the woods for moss, bark and fungus to decorate with.
We had a relay race of children making a birch wood tower from some blocks we had made. I wished we had been videoing that race- it was hilarious. Get a bunch of people from four years old to adults racing each other- and it is just awesome.
We had an antler ring toss made with Andrews' deer skulls. (He has found them all in our woods!)
There was also a Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Buck game, courtesy of Corynn and her artistry.
Several other games were planned (donuts-on-a-string eating contest, anyone?) but never happened just because children were off having their own fun.
One week after Halloween, I warned the children I would NOT be putting lots of effort into woodland costumes. Andrew wanted to be Daniel Boone again anyway (Blessed boy!). Judah already had a woodsmans' beard (until the morning of the party when he couldn't find it and I had to quick stitch up a replacement before church). I raided Ineke's clothing drawers and stitched a few felt elf ears to pin to the hat I knit for her a couple months ago. Adele' grabbed a fall-ish dress from the dress-up bin and I made her a butterfly crown. Corynn wanted to be an owl- she made and painted her own mask and I made some felt wings for her which incidentally, was the very thing her best friend came as, unbeknownst to either of them. I was a fox for the evening- and the very same thing that my closest friend dressed up as, again- unbeknownst to either of us! Like mother(s), like daughter(s). ;-)
|These owls lost their wings!|
There were so many amazing costumes, my one great lament is not getting good photos of everyone in their duds. Everyone looked SO great!
The Trail Mix Bar (to fuel further adventures...)
|Remember this fabric? You'll be seeing it again soon!|
Because there were so many children in attendance, I thought a Trail-mix Bar (to fuel the next adventure) would be cheaper than getting (or making) individual favors for everyone. It turned out to be the biggest expense of the party, but pretty darn fun though. We all had fun decorating a roll of paper for a tablecloth and the trail mix food was all 'themed'. There was:
Teddy Bears (to eat before they EAT YOU): Teddy Grahams
Bear Poop: Whoppers
Deer Droppings: Raisinets
Nutkin's Winter Stash: Peanuts
Elvin Tobacco: Craisins
Pixie Pillows: Marshmellows
Chipmunk Chips: Golden Graham cereal
Candy Corn: well, because they were also discounted after Halloween. And because, I have a major weakness for them.
Instead of offering loads of delicious and varied foodstuffs, I told myself I would limit the vittles to soup and bread for dinner. A big vat of chili and a big vat of potato corn chowder and loads of bread, to be sure, but making LOTS of one or two things is far easier than making a little bit of many different things. I invited anyone coming to bring a dessert and I made one single solitary snack (the cheeseball pumpkin). I offered water, cocoa and warm apple cider (that I canned last year). It was surprising how much food I had leftover, too. I was able to pass on leftovers to four different families (and have the night off of cooking the next day for ourselves, too!)
I didn't go nuts cleaning the house: It being an outdoor party and all, I just tidied things up a bit, vacuumed the rugs and made sure the bathroom was clean. I didn't dust. I didn't de-cobweb. I didn't clean off the top of the refrigerator (a dumping spot of ours). In truth, I didn't even think about it because I was too busy with other things. After the party I discovered to my horror the ridiculous amount of cobwebs in every nook and cranny of the downstairs, the picture leaning against the wall in the corner that I had planned on hanging and the dust coating the piano. People wound up in the living room, visiting, nursing or just warming their bones but- if they noticed the dust and cobwebs they didn't care. That's what friends are for. ;-)
Because hosting takes so much time, I didn't get many pictures during party or of the most important things...the people there... (most of these were taken the next day as I was cleaning up) which was a shame because, well, I just love these people. They are MY PEOPLE.
It was such fun- the children enjoyed themselves so much- which was the whole point. I am so glad that we were able to squeeze that little shin-dig before the weather turned cold.
And now the snow can come- we are warm and toasty with the recollections of time spent with good friends.