"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Sweet Shop Birthday Party

When I first broached the subject of Max's 6th Birthday Party with him several weeks ago, I wasn't surprised to learn that he already had some Big Ideas about what he wanted:

A Sweet Shop Birthday Party

I jumped immediately on board...I mean, look at this sweet face...

How could I not?

 I followed the same simple formula as I have for all birthdays past:
Simple Decorations
Simple Games
Simple Treats

Here are some of the highlights!

Welcome to Max's Sweet Shop

I made wrapped candies out of styrofoam balls and tissue paper for our party backdrop.
Table decor was a white plastic table cloth with a polka dot wrapping paper runner, topped with clear containers of candy.

I already had a few glass vases but I purchased most of the other containers from Oriental Trading. You can find the ones I purchased here. (Note: they are made from thin, flexible plastic that is not water-tight. Perfect for holding candy, not to be used as a vase.) I found the rainbow swirl lollipops and candy sticks at Oriental Trading as well. I really wanted classic Candy Shop treats and was having trouble finding them locally.

As the kids arrived, I directed them to the table where blank party favor bags and sticker sheets were waiting for them. The kids decorated their bags while we waited for all guests to arrive.

I had a few "anytime" stations set up. These were simple play activities that the kids could do at anytime in the party...after they finished decorating their party favor bags, while waiting for the next game to begin, or if they chose to sit one of the games out.

Station #1: Froot Loop necklaces

I pre-cut the string and wrapped one end of the string in blue painter's tape for easy cereal stringing.

Station #2: Candy Land play mat

Max helped me to design and create this "map" of Candy Land, complete with "Lollipop Meadow," "Licorice Forest," "Coach Gingerbread's Playground," "Gumdrop Grove," and "Mount Red Hot," in addition to the Candy Land path. We set up our new fairy houses and fairies around the play mat as the characters and their homes.

Station #3: Birthday Cake Playdough

I found a great playdough recipe that looked and smelled just like birthday cake batter. You can find the recipe here. To complete the station, we added silicone cupcake holders, candles, large sequin "sprinkles," drink umbrellas, and mini cookie cutters. 

I made a double batch so I could send some home with each guest in their party favor bag. In addition to the playdough, each child received some paper cupcake liners, a candle, and an umbrella for at-home cupcake-making.

Station #4: Candy Land

It was the inspiration for the party, after all!

Station #5: Jelly Bean Estimation Jar

This was one of my favorite activities to watch, and such a flashback to my days as a kindergarten teacher. As a generalization, Kindergartners are Not Good at estimating large numbers. Of the 12 kids at the party, only my third grader wrote a number other than a round number. The closest guess was a three-way tie of 100. There were more than 100 jelly beans in the jar, though, so we had to do a second round of the kids who guessed 100. I told them to think of a number bigger than 100 and the answers included 1009 (one-hundred and nine) and 10028 (one-hundred and twenty eight). 

I love estimating with little kids. I'll bet if Max's birthday were later in the school year, the answers would have been a lot closer. So much number sense develops this year!

In addition to the stations, we did have some organized party games. 

Stick the Gumball in the Machine


No party would be complete without a Pin the Tail on the Donkey variation. For this game, the object was the stick the gumball in the black "tray" not in the glass jar. After all, a gumball that has come down the chute is better news than a gumball still in the machine.

Candy Bingo

I made this game with clip art and my laminating machine. Buttons make great Bingo Markers!

When Max's kindergarten class plays bingo, every time you get 5-in-a-row, you say "B-B-B-B-Bingo!" Play continues, however, until your whole card is filled in. Since that's how his beloved teacher plays, that how we play, too. The whole group loved this game. Some of them got it out after we played together to play on their own.

Ring Around the Lollipops

A simple yard game, this was created using craft paper, skewers, and ribbons. I made two sets so the kids didn't have to wait too long for a turn. This game was another big hit. 

To make the rings, I cut the middles out of paper plates and wrapped the leftover rings with this thick, beautiful yarn I found at Michael's. I think it was Isaac Mizrahi brand?

This game was so popular, I had to pry some kids back inside with the promise of 
a trip to the Candy Bar.

Candy Bar

Hoooo, boy. The Candy Bar. The kids came up, two at a time, and filled a small candy bag with as much of whatever they liked as could fit in the bag. 

To say this was the star of the party would be an understatement. We had: rainbow lollipops (round and swirl pops), candy sticks, candy buttons, jelly beans, Sixlets, M&Ms, Twizzler bits, gummy bears, and Starburst. We chose candies based on Max's favorites and appearance...We wanted the bar to be colorful and festive. It was. Hoooo, boy, was it ever.

After the trip to the candy bar, it was time for more sweet treats.

Max originally wanted to combine his love of Sweets with his longtime goal of working in a bakery. He wanted to bake cupcakes at his Sweet Shop birthday party. Call me a party pooper, but the idea of 12 kids baking in my kitchen sounded less like a Good Time and more like hell on Earth. 

Instead, I let them decorate their own (slice-n-bake) sugar cookies.

I think they went over just as well.

Lesson Learned:
I think it would be prudent, at this time, to offer my sincere apologies to the parents of the party guests. I'm sorry I sent your children home with bags of candy, giant lollipops, and tummies full of candy-topping-laden sugar cookies just three weeks before Halloween. 

But, sort of...sorry, not sorry. Would you look at this kid? Happiest 6-year old on the block.

But seriously, thank you for sharing your delightful children with me. These were some of the kindest, happiest, most polite kids I've ever seen in my life. I'm so proud of Max for choosing such wonderful friends, and I'm so happy they chose him back. There was so much love and friendship in our home last Saturday.

Life is sweet.


  1. I think there would be a price on my head if I loaded other people's kids with that much sugar. That said, I sent the Scouts home last night with fists full (literally) of marshmallows, so I guess I'd better start digging my hide-out.

    My kids are lucky that my wife has a great mind for this sort of thing. I don't have a clue about organising parties that are fun. It'll be easier when I can take them to the pub for an afternoon's concentrated beer-drinking instead of having to think up things to entertain a boat-load of six year olds. It's a while until any of them turn 18 though.

    Until then, they have their mother, who is awesome.

    As do yours. Looks like it was a fantastic party.

    1. Hey, at least you only have to wait until 18! My kids will be deemed responsible enough to choose a PRESIDENT before I can legally enjoy a pint with them. Oh, America. Thanks, though. Birthday party planning is such a great way for me to combine my creative streak and my former-teacher brain. I love that my kids love it (for now...). Do your kids choose party "themes" or do they prefer cake-and-games style parties?

    2. We've had to cut back on big parties in recent years for various reasons. We generally think of a couple of ideas for them to pick from. The last couple have involved visiting the Sea Life centre on the coast and taking breakfast on the banks of the Thames at the Tower of London. Both trips were well-remembered and just the five of us. Much more managable than having 20 extra little people destroying the place...

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  3. Wishing you more fun, more happiness and party more merriment today. Happy birthday!