Harry Potter And Baseball
My son's 8th birthday was in January, and most of his second-grade classmates had seen the Harry Potter movie over the holidays. I started with invitations in the form of acceptances into the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft based on the letter Harry received. I created letterhead on the computer and printed it on gold parchment paper.
When the children arrived (at gate 9 3/4 -- marked by a sign outside our door), they were divided into different Houses by the Sorting Hat: I'd made a hat out of blue felt and stars and filled it with the crests of all the Houses in the form of temporary tattoos. During the party, each House received points if one of its members won a game, used good manners, picked up after himself, or showed an act of kindness. Teams lost points for rudeness, poor sportsmanship, etc. (although this never happened because the children policed themselves in competition).
We played various games with Harry Potter themes, such as "Find the Golden Snitch" (a gold ping-pong ball was hidden with other balls, each marked with a point value -- the gold ball being the highest), with points tallied on a sheet on the wall.
The decorations were store-bought, but the tablecloth was inexpensive blue plastic strewn with star confetti. I used plain gold paper plates and utensils.
The points for the Houses were fixed so that everyone was a winner, and each child received an official-looking personalized participation award printed on gold parchment and signed by the headmaster (my son). We placed them in black plastic cauldrons I was lucky enough to find (I guess they were left over from Halloween) along with Bertie Bott's every-flavor jellybeans (regular jellybeans in cello bags, labeled as such and tied with gold ribbon), some Harry Potter glasses (Oriental Trading Co.), and other inexpensive but cool gifts -- tattoos, necklaces, mini-skateboards, and the like.
It was very successful -- the children talked about it all week!
Karen Koenig Resto
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
For my son Mitchell's 4th birthday, I scheduled his party during an afternoon AAA baseball game. Parents were also invited. Mitchell opened his gifts and we ate cake before the game and gave out plastic bats and balls as take-home gifts. I also found baseball caps to be worn as party hats (which was also a good way to keep track of everyone in a large crowd!). Then we went to the game. If the kids got tired, their parents took them home. Mitchell had a great day and it was not very difficult to do. I could have had his name on the scoreboard during the middle of the 7th inning, but I didn't know if he could last that long!
Park City, UT
Down on the Farm
My friend Dina had a great first-birthday party for her son. She sent out homemade farmhouse-shaped invitations and made a farmhouse out of a cardboard box. She had a kiddie "duck" pool and plush farm animals that the kids took home. She served picnic-type foods, including cupcakes decorated to look like farm animals. Her son was dressed in overalls. She did a great job.