Category Archives: Parties

Half Birthdays

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Today we are having a half-birthday party for my 5 year old.  Her birthday is just a few days before Christmas and last December we had conflict after conflict arise which prevented us from having her party near the actual day.  We settled on a half birthday party, but on that day we were at a family reunion so it was bumped back another month.

I’m both excited and relieved that we’re getting this done.  Never has a party been talked about, dreamed about and planned for by a child in our family for SO many months.

Yesterday morning she was kind of hovering nearby as I got ready for the day so I asked her what I could do for her.  Her reply:  “Um, I just have a question I needed to ask you.  Are you going to work your hardest today?”  I burst out laughing and assured her that indeed, I was.  Then she asked, “And are you going to stay up really late to make sure everything is ready?”

Oh my.  She has definitely been thinking about this for too long.

It will be a good first learning experience for me with celebrating this way.  I was a little worried at the response I would get from the parents of her friends, but some of them have birthdays during the holiday season as well and their memories are of never having a party.  It looks like everything is going to work out just fine, and we’ll see if her half-birthday turns out to become a new tradition.

Have you ever celebrated a half-birthday with a party?  Have any suggestions/insights to offer?

Jennifer

Taste The Rainbow Game

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My five year old daughter and I are planning a birthday party and the first game she requested is Taste the Rainbow.  It’s a really simple game which can be easily used at any kind of party.  We first tried it at one of the parties I hosted in May for a 10 year old soccer team.

Here’s how you play:  Each person will need two small cups, a straw, and enough Skittles candies to fill one of the cups.  Leave the second cup empty.  The cups I used are little condiment size cups like you find at restaurants.  I bought a huge box of them years ago at Costco and we still haven’t run out!  They measure about 2 inches across and are only about an inch deep, so they’re quite small.  If you can’t find something like it you could use little ice cream cups, nut cups, or even sturdy cupcake liners might work.  You should have at least 20-25 candies in the cup so the players are less likely to run out mid-game.  I bought two 14 ounce bags of candy for a group of 12 girls and had about 2/3 of one bag left after the game.  I think you could safely plan on one 14 ounce bag per every 10 players.

The goal of the game is to see how many skittles you can move to the empty cup using your straw in 30 seconds.  Someone needs to be the timer who calls out go and stop.  I’ll never forget the first time we played it hearing one sweet girl exclaim, “Oh!  You’re supposed to suck in!  I was blowing.”  So funny.  We ended up playing it over and over again as the girls wanted to beat each other’s best number.   When you’re done everyone gets to eat their candy (another good reason to keep the cups small).

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At our soccer party I used this for the last activity of the night.  It kept the girls gathered around my kitchen table while parents arrived to pick up their daughters and made ending the party a little less chaotic.  Those whose parents hadn’t arrived yet simply played another round.

One more thing I like about this game is that it works for groups of people who aren’t the same age.  It would be fun to use for family night, a reunion, a classroom party… anything you want!

Have fun!
Jennifer

How to Make a Stick Horse

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Last month I made eight stick horses for my son’s birthday party.  A year ago I made the first one, and as I was making them last month I was kicking myself for not keeping a pattern the first time around.

So here it is, my version of How to Make a Stick Horse.

What you need:

To start, you can draw your own horse’s head on a sheet of 11×15 inch paper, or you can just download my pattern.  It’s not fancy, but you won’t have to draw your own.   Print it (no scaling) then take it to a printer to enlarge it 200%.

DOWNLOAD HORSE HEAD PATTERN HERE

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To begin, you need felt.  One half yard of felt will make two horses, but you must buy the felt in half yard increments because 1/4 yard will be too narrow.  You can get 4 horses per yard, so I bought two yards to make eight horses.  In addition, you may want smaller pieces of other colors for the horse’s mane.  The sheets of felt that stores commonly sell will work for this.

In addition, you need some cotton fabric (a fat quarter should do).  Not pictured but needed:  scissors, sewing machine & coordinating thread, pins, hot glue gun and glue, marker, fiber fill to stuff.  And dowels.

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I bought 36 inch long dowels that are 7/16 inch in diameter.

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To begin, cut out pattern and lay on top of a double thickness of felt.

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Trace with a marker.

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Cut along lines.  On the outer edge of the horse’s neck, continue the line on down and cut along that line.

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Cut out pattern.  You should have two ears and two head shapes.

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Fold ears in half along straight edge.

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Flip one head shape over so it’s facing the opposite direction.   Pin an ear on each shape, with the open side of the ear facing the horse’s nose and the fold line facing the neck.  Pin in place near the center of the top of the horse’s head.

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Sew each ear in place.

Note:  If you have big plans for adding ears at this point, do it now.  I opted to leave the eyes off my horses and here’s why:  I’ve learned it’s important to have a starter activity/assignment for children to do while you wait for party guests to arrive, so I chose to begin the party by having each boy choose a horse and draw his own eyes on it.  I wanted the horse to be their own, since we were also asking them to name their horses.  And they LOVED this activity, by the way.  Some of them wanted their horse to have just one eye, others got going and drew spots on ears or around the eyes.  I wasn’t going for a professional, perfect looking horse.  I was trying to provide the basics so their imaginations could run with the idea.  It worked.

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For the mane, take a piece of felt approximately 8 inches wide by 11 inches tall.

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Fold in half lengthwise.

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Fold down the ear on one of the horse head pieces.

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Lay the folded piece of felt (mane) along the outer edge of the horse’s neck with the fold along the edge of the neck.

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Fold down the ear on the other horse head piece and carefully lay down on top of the mane and first head shape.  You should have both ears and the mane tucked inside the sandwich.  Pin the pieces together carefully.

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Sew along the edges of the felt with a 1/4 inch seam.

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Remove pins.  The horse should look like this.

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Carefully turn horse inside out.  Fold the ears back up and fold the mane piece out.

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Cut the mane into fringe strips, being careful to stop before you snip into the seam and the horse head.

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Stuff the head until it’s filled out to your liking.

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Cut strips of cotton fabric that are 2 inches wide and approximately 18 inches long.

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Carefully insert one end of a wood dowel into the center of the neck, gently pushing it up into the top of the head while leaving some filling so there’s no hard spot on the head.  I used the end that had the barcode sticker on it so I didn’t have to bother removing it.

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Using a glue gun, place hot glue all around the dowel just above the point where the stuffing ends.

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Squeeze the felt around the hot glue and tie a length of fabric in a knot around that spot to secure the horse head on the stick.

And you’re done!  Keep going until you’ve made as many horses as you need for your group.

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For my hitching post I used the frame for a standing chalkboard that my son broke a few years ago.  We tied loops of ribbon to the frame that were just a tiny bit loose, then put a stick through each loop to “hitch” them to the rail.  I made a simple bunting that said “hitching post” and the setup was complete.

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Each cowboy picked a horse,

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added eyes,

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and then they were off!

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We had a happy group of cowboys which added up to a very happy momma as well.

If you’d like more ideas for simple but really fun games to use at a cowboy party, you can read more about ours here.  As for the horses, my younger girls all want one now, so there will definitely be more of them in our future.  I hope you enjoy making yours.

Jennifer

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