For my daughter Lauren's first birthday, I created a multiple-choice questionnaire about her first-year development -- when she started smiling, how many diapers she went through a day, etc. The highest-scoring adult won a gift certificate, and everyone enjoyed the fun.
To create a thank-you card for my daughter's first birthday, I took a photo of her wearing her party dress and sitting next to a big thank-you sign, which she'd helped decorate. I then made copies of the photo and attached them to adhesive-backed postcards.
For my son's sixth birthday, we had a space theme, and the big hit turned out to be my moon-rock hunt. I took 50 rocks (about the size of lemons), sprayed them with silver-glitter paint, and hid them around the yard. The kids were delighted not only to find the rocks but also because they could bring them home. We had a space-shuttle cake, and the goodies included pencils decorated with planets, alien-themed notepads, star stickers, and Milky Way candy bars.
When our twins turned 4, they wanted a baseball party. We hung a banner over our front door announcing ARANYI STADIUM, and upon arrival, each guest was given a team tag (Benjamin Blues or Zachary Reds). We set up a baseball diamond in the backyard, and the kids played an awesome game of T-ball. Inside the house, we made signs for the souvenir stand (a party-favor table), the dugout (the backyard), and a snack bar (the kitchen), and we served hot dogs, soft pretzels, peanuts, and a baseball-shaped cake. Everyone had a great time.
We hosted a Far Eastern party for my daughter's eighth birthday. For one activity, I papier-m?ch?d a Halloween mask to look like a Chinese dragon. Then I hot-glued a long train of shiny yellow fabric to the mask. The children decorated the fabric and then danced and paraded under their dragon. We had taped bubble wrap to the floor, so when the kids ran around, the noise sounded like firecrackers popping. The favors were Chinese-food cartons filled with fortune cookies and Asian goodies.
New York, NY
For my son's fifth birthday, I filled a kiddie pool with wrapped candies and gum, then covered them with Styrofoam packing peanuts. Each child had 15 seconds to find as much candy as he could for his goody bag.
[Editor's note: This activity is unsuitable for toddlers.]
Copyright© 2004. Reprinted with permission from the May 2001 issue of Parents magazine.