First off, a plea. Please don’t think I’m a pushy mum as you read this. I know, it seems convenient…mum loves science, kid wants a space party (or moon party as she calls it, but if you google that you’ll get some ideas that aren’t exactly PG rated!).
But it really wasn’t my doing.
About four months before girlbug’s third birthday, we got Q pootle 5 out of the library. A great book by Nick Butterworth which (*spoiler alert*) sees an unlikely hero, Colin the cat, fix Q Pootle 5’s rocket in time for him to get to a birthday party on the moon. Girlbug chose it and it was an instant hit. So much so that we renewed it several times.
She sat on her bed, legs dangling. “For my three birthday…” she started. “For my three birthday…”. I knew what she was going to say. “For my three birthday, I’m going to have a party on the moon”. Though there was an initial hesitation, there was no uncertainty in her mind. This was happening.
As the months drew on, her enthusiasm for a moon party didn’t wane. With a month to go, we decided we were going to have to stage a moon landing in the garden (one benefit of an August birthday). I was surprisingly nervous the day before the party, not because of the 12 preschoolers I had turning up, or their accompanying siblings and parents. No, I was scared of Girlbug’s expectations, and I wasn’t entirely sure she understood that we couldn’t go to the *actual* moon.
So here’s what we did:
Fortuitously, Girlbug shares her name with a certain French rocket. That made creating posters pretty easy. Hedges and doors were furnished with print outs of rockets from the web, and foil space balloons (though we inflated one or two of these too much, failing to allow for expansion on the hottest day of the year – POP!). We also had space streamers hanging from trees (which the cat loved, before the kids turned up), coloured paper lanterns as planets, and a large grey groundsheet with some craters drawn on as the moon.
Space zones and props
We split the garden into “space zones”:
Launch pad: Here we had a cardboard rocket (similar to this, though it wasn’t this one)which fitted on top of our slide. Kids climbed up the ladder, got spun in the rocket, then flew down the slide. It was surprising how many kids could fit in at one time, though the rocket didn’t survive completely unscathed. We also had pump rockets and mini space gliders so that the kids could launch their own rockets, down the slope in the garden.
Asteroid belt: This was an area for the younger siblings really, though the pre-schoolers seemed to enjoy pelting each other with foil. We had a couple of ball pools, with ball pool balls, inflatable Earth balls, and tin foil asteroids.
Space travel: Here we had our existing cosy coupe cars, but with rocket packs on (2 litre plastic bottles wrapped in tin foil, with cardboard flames), some space hoppers and other ride on toys.
Viewing platform: We have a raised deck in our garden. This was our arts and craft area. Kids could make their own rockets (kitchen roll tubes, and cardboard flames) or colour in two giant space posters (well they could until the crayons melted on the sun).
Alien house: This was the kids playhouse, with some chairs set up with inflatable aliens on, and decorated with stars and planets.
The moon: this is where we served the food and drinks – a large groundsheet with craters drawn on, with a food/drinks table on top.
We did all the entertainment ourselves, so it was largely free play, with wine for the adults. We did play some party games though. We had a mass rocket launch, with our home made rockets, pump rockets and mini gliders.
We also did a treasure hunt for moon rocks (tin foil), an egg and spoon race to deliver the baby aliens back to their alien home. We already had the egg and spoon set, and just substituted the cloth eggs for stretchy aliens. We didn’t do any party bags, but the treasure hunt prize was a bag of Milkyway Magic Stars and a book (Q pootle 5 party book or five little men in a flying saucer, depending on age), and guests could take a baby alien and mini gliders if they wanted.
Feeding the astronauts
Girlbug demanded moon-pizza, so we had (bog-standard) pizza. There were star crisps and rocket biscuits too. The cake was a Mary Berry chocolate and ginger cake, with gingerbread planets, rockets and astronauts. I think it turned out surprisingly well.
The finished event
I think the kids had fun on the day, and we seemed to meet Girlbug’s exacting standards. She still talks of her “moon party”. It was a super-hot day, but except the crayons melting onto the wooden decking and a couple of balloons popping it all went to plan. While we did spend a fair amount on props, we economised by making our own cake and doing our own entertainment. And several of the props are still going strong. The Earth balls are littering our flowerbeds as I type, and the inflatable aliens have found a permanent home in the playroom. The cardboard rocket is currently in the garage, awaiting repairs and dryer weather.
Wonder what this year’s theme will be! We may have to downscale efforts or do a joint party once Boybug expresses an opinion on birthday themes, given there is only 6 weeks between their birthdays (and mine in between that!)
Do you like to do parties yourself, or do you buy in? What’s the best theme you’ve done? And most importantly, do you serve the adults alcohol? No judgement either way…honest!