Friday, May 2, 2008

Q&A: Kiddie Pool Birthday Party

Summer birthdays, rejoice! That time is almost upon us. What kid wouldn't love a water-themed birthday party? This little girl certainly looks like she enjoyed her time in the pool! (Photo courtesy of the hiltons on flickr.) I, too, had a summer birthday and I think I had a water related party almost every year when I was a kid, so this latest Q&A is right up my alley!

Candace from Mommy Matters, a fellow Georgia blogger, asks:

My daughter will be turning 3 in August and we are thinking of a cookout with the kiddie pools set up. Do you have any great advice on how to keep the $$$ to a minimum? We have a friend that does incredible cakes too so if you have any fun ideas for a water themed cake I would love to hear those too!

Candace, you have come to the right place. Cookouts are my specialty. :) And happy upcoming birthday to your little girl!

My first piece of advice is this: remember, especially when trying to stick to a budget, that it throwing a party is really all about having fun, and "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." (Of course, this applies to the birthday girl, too.) So, delegate some tasks (to husbands, family members, friends) and remember to enjoy yourself and your daughter's occasion! Whether or not the party looks fabulous, you want to make sure you and your daughter are having a good time! Now, on with the ideas...

For a cookout in honor of a 3-year old, my menu might include:
Goldfish crackers and/or chips
veggie crudites
deviled eggs
fruit pieces or fruit leather
various dips (spinach, hummus, yogurt/cream cheese)
birthday cake
ice cream
lots of water and juice
beverages for the adults

Favor idea: Sippy cups or straw cups! Use a paint pen to put a name on each kid's cup (dots at the corners make it festive). The best part is...they can use it at the party and no one will get their cups mixed up!

Here are some tips to keep food costs low:
  • Plan ahead! Figure out how many folks are coming and make a list of exactly what you will need and how much. Comparison shop if needed.
  • Buy in bulk from a warehouse store, especially ground meat, chips, sodas, etc.
  • Don't be afraid of off-brand ice cream in the plastic tubs. Transfer it into a pretty ice bucket, store in freexer, and no one will ever know. You can always have toppings at the ready to mask the not-so-natural vanilla flavor. Besides, you're eating it with cake. Who cares about ice cream when you have CAKE!
  • Make your own patties (they usually taste better than the frozen kind anyway). You can do this in advance and freeze your own! And you can make turkey burgers, which are cheaper AND healthier than ground beef.
  • Make your own dinner rolls using your favorite bread or bread machine dough recipe.
  • Make your own fruit leather. There's a great recipe for this in Super Baby Food, too.

    Cost-effective water-related activity ideas:
  • Connect a hose to a water sprinkler and let the kids play.
  • Hand out bubbles from the Dollar Store. Even the adults will have fun with this. (Also a favor idea.)
  • Put bath toys/sand toys in the kiddie pool.
  • Fill up unexpected containers with water for fun play, like an inflatable raft, large buckets, etc.
  • Play games with beach balls, such as a pint-size version of kickball or catch.
  • If you have older kids attending, water balloons and/or water guns from the Dollar Store might be appropriate. Have your own version of the "egg on a spoon" relay with water balloons!
  • Hula hoops are always a hit for any age!
  • Wondertime has some great age-appropriate backyard water games and wading pool games!
    If these aren't enough, search around your favorite parenting site for more water game ideas!

    Kiddie pools are a fantastic item for party inspiration!

    Honestly, I had no idea there were so many options. Obviously, you already have some you are planning to use, but really, I may have to get one for our patio this summer. Some of these are too cute (and affordable) to pass up!

    In fact, Parents magazine has an entire article about a Kiddie-Pool Party, with some great ideas, though most of them appeal to the 4 and up age range. They do include some great recipes, including shell-shaped pasta salad and deviled egg boats.

    You can even fill up one kiddie pool with ice for drinks. Children especially will love fishing theirs out on a hot summer day! We used a big blue plastic tub for years at large cookouts, but I've seen other folks use planters, baskets, and other decorative containers lined with a clear plastic bag to keep drinks cold, although there is a risk with that route of leakage and the dangers of plastic bags around kids. How cute would one of those kiddie pools with the island in the middle be filled with ice and drinks?

    Martha, too, has a Sprinkler Party, though most of her suggestings involve crafty-type towel favors and gift wrap. She does link to a fantastic fish-themed menu for kids, complete with a Sand Bucket Angel Food Cake.

    Some of my other favorite ideas for water-themed cakes include:
    Water Park Cake
    Snorkeler Cake
    Flip Flop Cake
    Blue Jell-O cake with Gummi creatures
    Tropical Pool Cake

    Candace, I hope this has offered you some inspiration! If you remember, please send me pictures of your party so we can see the final result!

    To everyone, I love answering your questions, so please keep them coming! And if you have party pictures of your own, please send them along! Thanks!

  • 1 comment:

    Jen / domestika said...

    What a remarkable round-up of ideas! If someone couldn't pull off a spectacular water-themed kids' party with all these tips and resources, well... I just can't imagine it! :) Using a kiddy pool as a giant drinks cooler is particularly brilliant, and I can just see the little ones having fun with the ice-cubes: and just the fact of having bevvy service at ground level is the kind of simple thing that would be a huge hit with those too young and short to reach the ice cube trays in the fridge freezer!