A family's scrapbook of memories is filled with milestones big and small -- from a baby's first smile, first tooth, and first steps to toddler birthday parties, holiday dinners, and that all-important first day of school. What could be more meaningful than marking a child's first educational rite of passage -- kindergarten graduation -- with a party for family and friends? With a little planning and Child's easy ideas, you can plan a celebration with food that carries out the theme and makes your child feel special.
A simple get-together is best, says Sara Wilford, director of the Early Childhood Center at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, NY. "A family party is a very natural, supportive, age-appropriate way to mark a young child's special day," she says. No gifts necessary -- just low-key fun and good food for guests of all ages. That's what Connecticut parents Cyd and Steve Swerdlow wanted for their own little graduate, 6-year-old David Kalani Swerdlow. After exchanging year-end hugs and goodbyes with classmates and teachers, David and his 7-year-old sister, Sasha, greeted a small group in the Swerdlows' pretty backyard. An iron patio table was set in a shady spot, with balloon bouquets tied to each guest's chair. (Cyd placed paper fortunes inside some of the balloons for adults to find and read to the kids after the party.)
For David, described by his dad as "an active boy who loves sports, cars, and climbing of any kind," running around outside was a great way to work off that last-day-of-school energy. While waiting for lunch, he and his young guests enjoyed dancing to pop music and playing tag with colorful pinwheels. "David loves to make people laugh," said Cyd as she watched the kids begin an impromptu marching game behind her son, still dressed in cap and gown. "He doesn't mind the attention at a party like this, either," she added with a smile.
The all-American lunch menu was designed to reinforce the graduation theme and delight David and his friends: mozzarella and pretzel stick "paper and pencil" appetizers, diploma-like wrap sandwiches, ABC pasta salad, and punch with juice ice cubes in varied shapes. For dessert, the kids personalized frosted cookie "books" to accompany mortarboard-shaped cupcakes.
"I'm so glad we did this," said Cyd, as her son shared a graduation hug with his proud dad. "It's the kind of day we'll always remember."