By Angie Simonson
Show me a mom, and I’ll show you an event planner. What’s that old saying… Mothering is a the necessity of event planning?
It’s starts innocently with little family birthday parties, and then as your children enter school it balloons into full blown friend parties and sleep-overs, and no matter how hard you try to avoid them, you’ll get roped into planning garage sales and fundraisers, or end of year parties for school groups and your kids’ sports teams.
It gets a bit overwhelming. Not to mention costly. While you can’t always dodge the PTA president or sports booster club required participation, you can manage the birthday craziness at home with a little multi-event tasking.
Let me start by saying I have four kids. They are all less than 2 years apart, and our house just barely holds us and the junk we hoard. inviting a dozen or more children over multiple times per year is enough to make me want to home school. But since I don’t have the patience, or grasp of advanced math to make that a realistic option, I made a deal with my kids – we’ll have one party each year, and we’ll make it a doozy.
So began our annual “Simonson Summer Party”. We invite my kids’ friends with their entire family (which frees me from too much supervision). Many of the families have kids the same ages as mine, so this works out well. We clean up our big front yard and garage. We buy lots of brats, dogs and buns, and ask guests to bring a side or dessert to share. We provide the non-alcoholic beverages, our guests bring their own booze if they so choose. We have a bonfire with s’mores, and each year come up with a few activities for the kids.
The first year we did this the temperature was 60 degrees and rainy in the middle of July. The grown-ups shivered in the garage while the kids ran wild in the rain. Everyone had fun. The following year was really hot, I made “sponge balls” for a water fight (instead of water balloons) and the kids had a blast. We also made treasure maps that sent the kids around our property to find a treasure chest full of treats. Last year we asked everyone to bring squirt guns to have a squirt gun battle. We also did squirt gun painting. I hung watercolor paper on our clothes line and filled a few smaller guns with different colored tempura paint mixed with a little water. The kids shot the papers with color and we just let them hang and dry. This was great for the younger kids that didn’t want to join in the squirt gun fight. We also created a scavenger hunt with clues that lead each kid to a treat bag. This year, my kids have been watching Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch and want to create a kid-friendly obstacle course for their friends to tackle.
We always ask our guests to bring a box of cereal to donate to the food shelf, many bring a few! The kids love to be part of the planning, and no one misses the solo birthday party in their honor, though we still let them have a friend over on their birthday. The bonus of the big summer party is that we get to meet the parents of our kids’ friends, and make new friends ourselves. And just maybe… a parent watch system, like in the good ol’ days , when other parents will let us know if our little darlings are doing something they shouldn’t.