Thursday, 22 September 2011

Party Prep - (Almost) Junk Free Loot Bags

I can't believe it, but Muffy turns 5 next week! He might think he's a big boy, but I still consider him my little bug. He's super excited about his upcoming bug party! I'm a planner by nature and I don't operate well when things are left to the last minute. I am trying to keep his party pretty simple, but I still had a few things to pull together this week. Early next week I will bake his cake and pop it in the freezer. That will leave cake decorating and snack preparation as my only "to do's" the day of the party. Being organized makes me feel relaxed about the affair and it also ensures I get to truly enjoy the day.

One of my biggest pet peeves about birthday parties is the excess and junk that seem to go hand in hand with such an affair. Most often, they come home with loot bags brimming with dollar store trinkets and loads of candy. In less than 24 hours, most of the items have been broken or forgotten and go straight to the trash can. It's such a waste!

Muffy's party is going to be fairly small and will be held at our home. In addition to three cousins, we've invited three friends. That makes a group of 8, which is pretty manageable. As is tradition at our house, the children will be sent on an outdoor treasure hunt to find their treat bags. With a bit of thought, I believe it is possible to come up with a relatively "junk free" loot bag, filled with a few special items the children will truly enjoy. Junk-free doesn't have to mean super expensive.

To get the kids in the "bug spirit" for their treasure hunt, I decided to make each child a set of bug antenna. I used my glue gun to attach pipecleaners and pom-poms to a headband. This is probably close to being "junk", but I'm at least hoping it will offer an opportunity for dress-up or imaginative play once they take it home. The treat bags will each contain a small bug/pond net that I picked up on sale at the pet store, along with a plastic bug home (a plastic container I poked holes in and stuck a bug sticker on). My own children use these types of nets almost daily - catching anything from frogs, to tadpoles to beetles. I'm hoping they inspire other children to get out and explore as well.

I also made each child a very simple bug journal, by sewing cardstock and printer paper together. I got this great idea from Mary Beth over at Salt and Chocolate. Not wanting to be a total "party pooper", I did include a small amount of candy - a bag of gummy worms and butterflies. I also threw in a "treat" of dried fruit bugs as well. Lastly, I picked up these interesting insect models from Lee Valley. They were just over $2 each and I think they will be fun to sand, assemble and paint - a great rainy day activity!

Muffy in pretty adament that he and his friends make rock bugs at the party. I'm keeping it simple. I pre-painted the rocks myself. Initially, I felt like I was robbing the creativity from the project. Birthday parties are so exciting and over-stimulating, I decided I just wasn't up for 8 kids painting with acrylic paint (the only kind that sticks to rocks) in my dining room. Instead, I'm giving them each some glue, glitter glue, eyes, antenna and markers to embellish the rocks. I think they will have lots of fun with it!

Add some cake, healthy snacks, balloons, and hopefully some sunshine.....and I'm good to go!

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