Posted by: angelnorman | November 13, 2006

Dressing Up the Plain

Ever get invited to one of those birthday parties that have character-driven themes like Dora or Spongebob or Elmo? Well, I don’t just go to them; as a mother, I also throw them. I love themed parties. Sometimes I dream up of ways to have themed days just for me and my kid. A good theme can never be a bad thing, that’s my motto. Themes in the realm of birthday shindigs are great for giving the party-goers an idea of what your kid might like, too. It’s as though they serve double duty in that respect because not only are they helpful for party-goers who haven’t seen what sorts of toys your child likes to play with, but they also keep you, the party hostess, in line. Having a theme, and deciding on it early, provides you with guidelines to follow, and makes you unable to stray from the theme which in turn seems to make things easier in the end. They’re also very restricting though in the same regard, at least for the creative-minded individual who likes to tweak and tweak to be more personal.

This past weekend, I threw my two-year old a transportation themed party that featured everything from construction trucks to motorcycles to planes and trains. I mean, we had it all. And while at times it was very overwhelming, I couldn’t help but love that we chose to throw them all together. Essentially, conversations at our dinner table went something like this:

“So what about helicopters? He’s seen a couple before and he likes them.”
“Well we have planes. That is close enough. But what about delivery trucks? 18 wheelers, I mean.”
“Okay. Fine by me. Well what about tanks?”
“Tanks as in military tanks?”
“Yes. Tanks.”
“Eh, I don’t feel like adding camouflage to the color scheme.”

So I managed to squeeze in the basic engine-operated vehicles that my son likes and notices while riding in the backseat or playing outside in the yard. And the best part is that I did it in a way that could really say, “This is my kid. This is what he likes.” It was very him. And it all started with the gift wrap.

When it comes to gift-wrap, there’s one rule that’s always in my head. Plain paper’s cheaper and it opens the door to creativity. I like to use it because it allows me to personalize in ways the big printed bags that match the party theme just don’t. Not that I dislike those big bags. Nay, I keep them and reuse them! But when I can’t find the right one, sometimes I just like to use my noodle— and some cutouts and glue and buttons and googly eyes, if need be.

Here’s what I did for my kid. I bought plain green wrapping paper and transformed it using cutouts from leftover invites and thank-yous. I took your basic white cardstock gift tags (which usually come in a package of a dozen or so for very, very cheap), and I used the same ribbon and button technique that I did on his birthday gift card from the last blog. I used all my ribbon stash but it looked great, didn’t it? I just remember the gratifying sound of absolute curiosity and joy when my kid seen the packaging the day I made it all. Of course, the squeals of delight turned to fits of rage when he realized he wasn’t going to be able to open the gifts right away, but that’s another story. The point is that I spent nothing on this stuff because I already had it all in my house. And it matched our construction theme perfect. The buttons are just something extra for my kid– he loves buttons!

And this looks like I bought it this way. No one ever need know that all it cost me was my time and imagination 😀

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