GriffFest 2006-2007 has come to a close, with a spectacular and chaotic celebration at our house. My Havenite friend Jenn used the word "spaztacular" to describe the festivities, and I think she hit the nail on the head.
My ideal kid party is to bring a cake and some picnic-y snacks to a park and let the kids run around. Unfortunately, 20 degree weather isn't the greatest for that sort of party, so Griff the Christmas Baby is probably doomed to a lifetime of indoor birthdays. Dan and I kicked around the idea of hosting at a facility like the children's museum or Chuck E. Cheese (side note: I've never been to a CEC in my life, is that odd for my generation?). Alas, scheduling issues prevented that, and I finally told Dan that we would just plain stay at home.
Fast forward a month...to 16 four-year-old guests, 4 older siblings, 2 younger siblings, and my own 2 children, all playing in my home. Total chaos...and totally wonderful. The great thing about young kids is that they don't need much to keep them happy. Somebody else's house and somebody else's toys, a little pizza and cake, and they're set. I got a lot of "you're brave" comments from moms, and maybe I was brave. It was loud. It was messy. It was a wild rumpus. But everybody (ok, everybody except for one child's shell-shocked dad) seemed to have a lot of fun. And I actually, perversely, LIKE cleaning up after parties. The debris is evidence of the good time that was had, and after sweeping up, everybody can collapse in a happy stupor.
Pics - unfortunately kids move fast and the light was funny, so everything is snapshotty, but they still can tell a story:
1. Griff and his buddy Quin. Griff could not be persuaded to put down the juice box. Dan tells me that he had FOUR. Poor deprived child doesn't get a lot of straight-up juice, much less from a nifty box-with-straw.
3. Grainy crop of the last photo so that you can see the cake. I had planned on only making cupcakes but Griff surprised me a few days before the party by asking for a cake. Not cupcakes, an actual cake. Chocolate with chocolate icing. I compromised (sorry, can't put choc icing on a choc cake) with this nifty castle bundt, using my family's killer chocolate cake recipe. The castle was a hit. So were the additional cupcakes, sprinkled with mini M&Ms. M&Ms seem to have magical properties, they hold kids in their thrall.
4. Friends mobbing Griff as he unwraps gifts. The boy next to him is his buddy Andres. The scroll he's holding is a drawing made for him by his "girlfriend" Annika, whom you can see here, either whispering in or nibbling on his ear. Last December, Annika declared her intentions to marry Griff. Previous to that time, I believe her affections were alternately focused on either her father or the neighbor's cat, so this is a big step for Anni. Last month she "married" Griff in a Garden Room ceremony. She draws lovely pictures of herself and Griff. I never thought I'd be so tickled to hang somebody else's child's art on my fridge. The love story is posted in young love, part I and parts II/III.
5-7. The pinata! Griff talked about a pinata for months before the party. Dan and I found this nifty dragon-shaped one. (side note: it arrived without an eye and the company sent me another, so now I have a spare one-eyed dragon pinata...hmmm) We saved the pinata-bashing for last and the kids were elated when I lowered it down. My friend Corinna (Andres' mom) had to hold it up over the crowd so that it didn't get loved to death before we could beat it to pieces. It turns out that four is the perfect age for pinata excitement, but not for having the judgment to stand back far enough not to get whacked, or strength to break the pinata, or patience to wait for a goody bag to collect prizes. We had a real Lord of the Flies moment as we ended up letting the kids tear up the pinata and they swarmed to pick up every last bit of booty.
I didn't get any great photos of the crowns - Dan and I cut blank crowns out of silver/gold reversible posterboard and most of the kids ended up decorating one for themselves. The Eye Spy jars were a hit with some of the kids, about 10 left in goody bags.
Cait came down to give us an extra pair of hands for the weekend, which was invaluable. She was heard to comment that the entire experience, albeit fun, was excellent birth control for somebody in their early 20s.