Friday, March 22, 2013

Goldfish Birthday Party

The epic 1st/3rd birthday party for the Kidlets was a success! Here's a recap. 

Location: Evelyn absolutely loves everything about swimming, and once I let it slip in her presence that I was thinking about doing something involving a swimming pool for her birthday party, it was all over. She was SO excited to have "birfday at the swimmin pool?" that we just decided to go all in this year. After some scouring, I found the Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center in Raleigh. It was perfect because it's an indoor pool but also a sort of mini indoor water park. Beach-entry toddler pool with splash park stuff, perfect toddler-sized slide, lazy river and whirpools, and a big curly slide for big kids and adults. Not only that, but they have a special party room for rent! It was meant to be. So we got it all set up, and it was time for step 2. 

Exterior of the Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center
Party Room at the Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center

Invitations: Of course I had a whole Pinterest board full of ideas for the party, and I loved the idea of an invitation with little waves so I could stick additional information there. There's a good deal of fine print/reminders to communicate for a pool party! I printed these on white card stock on our home printer, and the waves were small strips overlapping one another, cut out of a variety pack of blue cardstock. I made my own stencil and hand-traced and cut out the polka-dot goldfish. Then all it took was some Elmer's glue and bam! Invitations. (I should also note that at one point, the invitations involved the use of "O- FISH- ally" and Jonathan vetoed that brilliance.)

Goldfish Pool Party Invitations
Swimsuits: Okay, so... I wanted to stick with the blue and orange color scheme, and I was also searching for an appropriate swimsuit for Evelyn (seriously, three-year-olds don't need skimpy string bikinis... but that's a discussion for another day). Well, thanks to the magic of whining on Facebook about my inability to find a suit I liked, my fabulous sister-in-law opened my eyes to Boden and Mouse got this stylin' suit. Which just so happened to fit with the color scheme. Not that I did that intentionally or anything... Gideon lucked out because I found him the cutest little navy trunks with orange sea animals on them at the consignment sale. Then, because he's teeny tiny, those trunks were way too big and he ended up in some smaller navy ones we had hanging around.

Evelyn and her new swimsuit!
Moving right along to the highlight of any party: FOOD! The party menu consisted of delicious homemade gluten-free goldfish (recipe here but just save yourself the pain and get a bag of GF all-purpose flour from Trader Joe's; adorable mini goldfish cutter here), mini cupcakes (straight from the box because you have to draw the line somewhere), baby carrots, and cups of peeled clementine segments and fresh blueberries (keepin' it blue and orange).

So many goldfish.

So many cupcakes.
The flags were fun to make.
Gideon approved of the food.
Fruit Cups
Decorations: Okay, the tricky part here was timing. The way the party room rental situation works, you and your guests are allowed to arrive and swim one hour before your scheduled reservation. We had the party room reserved from 3:00 - 4:30, so our guests could arrive and swim starting at 2:00 PM. At 2 PM, the 1:00 party was still happening, so the room wasn't ours yet. You have 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time to set up and decorate the party room, so starting at 2:45 we were allowed to start hauling in the food and trying to set up as quickly as possible. I'm pretty sure almost every parent in attendance had a hand in setting up - from putting out the blue plates and orange napkins to distributing fruit/cracker cups (I had them all ready to go in cups so it was grab and go because I knew we'd be in a time crunch) to hanging a banner. I was pretty much decorating around people and trying to go as fast as possible to prevent any toddler meltdowns caused by seeing but not being allowed to eat the cupcakes! Anyway, the decorations were sort of incorporated into the food (sticking with the color scheme), the flags on the cupcakes, the colors of the napkins and plates, and then my fabulous sister-in-law made a custom little goldfish and blue bubble felt banner that ended up being a sort of table runner because I had no time to hang it! I made a happy birthday sign for the Kidlets that I colored with orange and blue... and that was it for decor!

Party time!
Favors: So I saw this awesome pin from Martha Stewart (of course), involving a fish sewn on a beach towel with the mouth left open, and then you put little trinkets, etc. into the fish's mouth. Adorable. I tried the open-mouth approach and I was worried the fish would start to fall off the towel, so I just appliqued fish onto the towels and tied the trinkets on top with ribbon. I made my own stencil in a goldfish shape and traced it onto different colors of scrap fabric using tailor's chalk, and then I cut out the fish. Then I used a bit of iron adhesive stuff (can't remember what that stuff's called?) to hold the fish in place while I sewed them on. I'm sort of anti-pinning if I can avoid it. So each kiddo got a "beach" towel (they were really 20x40 white cotton towels because that's a size that you can easily buy in bulk and I needed 24 towels) with a strip of paint pots (these come in three-packs and each kid just got one strip), two fortune teller fish (Jonathan had never seen these!), and a crazy straw. Admittedly, the towels are probably not a kid's favorite favor ever, but I latched onto the idea and just couldn't stop myself.


In the end, we had about 20 kids and 20 adults in attendance, with kids ranging in age from just a few months to five years old. As the hosts, Jonathan and I didn't get as much time as we would have liked to swim and catch up with friends and play (and take pictures, and so on...) but that's how it goes when you're hosting a crazy party for toddlers! It was really fun and I'm glad that we did it. I think it's a special treat sort of thing that definitely won't be something we do every year, but this should tide us over at least until Evelyn's in Kindergarten before we do another big birthday bash.

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