Amelia came up with the lunch menu on her own. We bought Pepperidge Farm Goldfish bread, and made either peanut butter or cheese sandwiches. Amelia wanted snow pea "sea weed", watermelon "fish" and green grape "bubbles". I could not find KoolAid at Target (really?) and so we made lemonade and added blue food coloring to make ocean punch.
She wanted her cake to look like Nemo, so I tweaked an idea I saw on Pinterest, and here's what I came up with:
Almost everyone had a lot of fun at the party, and one little girl even told Ben that "this is the best party!" which was especially rewarding since she had just had her own birthday party at Bouncy Town two days earlier. We planned a lot of activities, but the favorite was a treasure hunt with written clues. Either Amelia or her friend Lexi read all the clues, and then the whole group of little girls would charge through the house trying to find the next clue. I had planned ten rhyming clues, but if I had known they would love it so much, I'd have planned even more! The next day, Amelia even came up with and wrote down her own clues because she wanted to keep playing treasure hunt. Clue number seven said "To find clue number 8, look under the place where you ate" and here's the girls crawling under the dining room table:
The girls caught fish in our bathtub, using squirty fish from Oriental Trading with paperclips in their mouths and fishing poles with washers at the end of the string. The girls really liked fishing, but it was a little awkward to fish in the bathtub. We had planned to use the kiddie pool outside, but it was in the 50s, and we thought that was a little cold for all the sundress wearing girls.
Everyone had a turn at pin the fish in the ocean:
Amelia did not want to have any "winning games" at her party because she said it wouldn't be fair if some people didn't get a chance to win. Nobody minded that there weren't any winners; they all just had fun playing as many times as they wanted. Amelia and Megan decorated our bean bag board with clownfish, and then Amelia and I made rainbow colored felt bean bag fish. Everyone had multiple turns throwing fish into the hole.
The girls did ocean sticker pages while we were waiting for everyone to show up, and when things were getting a little crazy after the games, we sat down to make fish necklaces. I think everyone enjoyed this activity, but it definitely lasted longer for some kids (Megan) than for others.
Then we sang Happy Birthday and ate birthday cake. Just like when she turned three, Amelia wanted the very center piece of cake with the two orange slice fins, so I had to carefully extract that as the first piece of cake.
And then Amelia opened presents. Amelia's favorite present was a Mermaid Barbie that can go in the water. She told me she is "into" Barbies now. Then the girls all played a game which involved them holding hands and running around in a circle until they all fell down.
And I managed to get a fantastic group shot of all the girls!
I didn't take a photo of the goody bags, but we gave out the squirty fish from the fishing game, squishy tentacle-y "sea urchin" balls that were the prizes from the treasure hunt, mini M&Ms in a little container labeled "fish food", an orange fish hair bow that I made, the fish necklaces that the girls made, and goldfish snack mix that the girls got to mix themselves (the Swedish fish were a huge hit). Becky designed super cute labels for us that said "Thanks for swimming by!"
- Two hours is plenty of time for a party. Our party started at 12, and we were done with everything by 1:40.
- If possible, have an extra adult to help with the younger sibling. I thought Megan would be fine, but she had three separate screaming fits over things like having to take her turn at the bean bag game. Thankfully, she went to her room and shut the door all on her own, but we could still hear her screaming and either Ben or I would have to go try to calm her down because the other girls kept wondering why she was crying so much. She's not normally like that, so I suspect she was overwhelmed with all the other girls there who were just a little older, a little faster, and a little bossier than she was.
- Definitely have something for the kids to do while waiting for everyone to show up. One girl was at least 20 minutes late, and so the sticker pages were a big hit while we were waiting.
- If you suspect one of the kids is going through a separation anxiety stage, ask the mom for hints before the party. It would be nice to be able to avoid having a crying child dropped at your doorstep. As a followup, plan something low key for that child to do until they feel comfortable joining the group, or have another extra adult handy to sit with that child as she sits by herself at the kids table moping.
- While it is cost effective to have your goody bags contain art projects or prizes from the games, keep in mind that YOU will have to take each thing from each child and put it in the correct bag. This takes a lot more time than you would think, especially if you have seven children and five different things that need to go in the bags throughout the party. They WILL remember that they had the purple fish and the pink sea urchin.
- It takes two adults to run a party with 6 five year olds and 1 two year old. An extra adult would have been helpful to deal with difficult kids.
- If you hang balloons from the ceiling at a level kids can reach, they will bat them around. Take photos (like the group shot) BEFORE they discover they can do this. On the plus side, the kids would have been happy batting balloons around for probably a half hour, if we'd had more of them where they could reach.
- Have enough fancy party hats for everyone, even though you KNOW nobody likes to wear them. Once five year old girls see shiny sparkly party hats, they will all want one.
- Take photos with the cake before the party.