"the best party ever!"...at least according to my daughter.
On Sunday, I hosted a belated birthday party for Natalie because I love her and I love parties as they give me an excuse to put on my creative thinking cap...something I don't get to wear nearly as often as I like. The theme was centered around fairies since Natalie is obsessed with all things whimsical.
With a small budget, I relied on my heart to help lead me to create a fun party that would also leave a loving memory with Natalie and her friends for years to come. My search for party supplies did not begin at Party City or Target, rather, I began my shopping in my mother's basement. My mom, a natural-born collector, can always be counted on to have "stuff". She is also the person I give credit for supporting and encouraging my creative spirit. Many of the memories I have as a young child are centered around her and her sewing machine. In between cleaning and cooking and baking -- (I think I was in high school before I discovered that not all families had dessert after every meal) she could be found cutting, pinning and sewing all kinds of handmade dolls. She made dolls with moveable arms and legs, dolls with multiple expressions that could be revealed only by turning their heads and rearranging their yarn hair. She made tiny sock dolls and sleeping baby dolls and dolls that looked like they were crawling. She once made my sister a life-size figure skater doll complete with a skating skirt and felted ice skates as a "good luck charm" for her to take with her when her precision team traveled. Many times during the holiday season she loaded up our family's powder blue station wagon...affectionately known as the "blue bomber", and would sell her creations at area high school craft fairs. I loved to go with her and was happy to be her lovely sales assistant.
By the time I was nine years old, my mom helped my sister and I come up with a product that we could make and sell alongside her -- refrigerator pom pom magnets. We made everything from caterpillars, baby chicks and teddy bears to ice cream sundaes and Christmas trees adorned with teeny tiny sequin ornaments. I'll never forget our first craft fair -- we completely sold out of each and every magnet we made! My confidence soared and I was thrilled to have souvenir money to spend for when my family went on vacation during the summer. However, I can't recall what I ever spent my magnet money on. Instead, what sticks with me was the absolute thrill I got from making something out of virtually nothing and how my mom shared in our excitement. At the time, I thought it was the desire for money that drove me to stay up late; bent over a sticky table covered in glitter, sequins and googly eyes. But, I realize now it wasn't that at all. It was time...one-on-one, with my mom, that filled me up.
I began Natalie's party by reading, "The Mud Fairy" by Amy L. Young. A lovely tale about a fairy with an independent streak who remains true to herself and yet still finds a way to earn her wings. After the story I told the girls that I would be transforming them all into fairies. I brought out a bowl of plastic eggs with their names written on the outside of each one. On the inside I had written their fairy name and a bit of information about the kind of fairy they are. For example, Natalie's fairy name was Cherry Vinedancer. She brings riches and wealth and lives in fruit orchards and vineyards. She can only be seen in the enchanted moment between sleep and waking and has red wings.
As I called each girl up and their eyes locked with mine, my chest tightened and I felt on the verge of tears as I marveled how wonderful and magical this age really is. After each girl received her name and wings they were directed to a table where my cousin Sarah and my good friend, Eraka were ready to cover their faces, hair and nails in squirls of color. However, sometimes my ideas have a way of becoming more than one or even three moms can handle, so I was very grateful when, without even asking, all the other moms jumped in to assist. Fur...or rather paint, colored hairspray and glitter nail polish were flying as an army of moms helped me pull off my vision.
Once everyone had been successfully covered in glitter and paint, the girls set to work creating their very own fairy houses. I explained since fairies use whatever is around to make something new -- they would need to use the supplies around them to create a home fit for a tiny-winged friend. The girls and their moms (in fact I think the moms enjoyed it as much...maybe even more) dolled up their houses with tables made from buttons and a wine cork. A dangly earring became a tiny wind chime and doors were fashioned with bits of fabric and a twisty tie. They drew fanciful flowers and designs on the outsides of their tiny abodes. The room was abuzz with creativity -- if only there were a way to bottle that feeling.
We went on to decorate unicorn cookies and play a game of pin the horn on the unicorn, but the fairy houses were definitely the most popular activity. My cousin shared that she and her daughter spent much of that evening enjoying discussions about her daughter's fairy guiding light powers. Later I heard from another mom that her daughter slept with her fairy house while another went on to create a second home.
As I reflect on the happiest memories of my childhood and compare it with the joy I witnessed at Natalie's party with moms and daughters creating together, I'm convinced more than ever that it's not the stuff we buy for our children that makes them feel loved and special -- it's our time and attention they truly need and desire. So, during this busy holiday season, when marketers invade our T.V.s, computers and even our phones! -- with toys and products that promise to make our children and family love us more -- I urge you to turn a blind eye to some of it and look for more ways you can make memories with your kids. I'm confident they don't want more stuff...they just want more of you!
|Opening a "fairy egg" while the girls sat on their woodland seats fashioned from cardboard.|
|Meadow Pepperglow gets her wings and at $1...a real bargain. Thank you Dollar Tree.|
|Eraka adds color to Fern Elfweb's sweet face.|
|Ritika adds a little sparkle to Fidget Elfglitter's nails|
|Colored hairspray, Glitter and Glam, Oh my!|
|Hazel Icepetal gathers materials for her fairy home.|
|Fairies made from Steve's duck feathers, clothespins and bits of felt, silk flowers and yarn |
for the girls to enjoy with their new homes.
|Cherry Vinedancer was most pleased with her whimsical soiree.|
|Star Willowlight was in her element.|
|I'm not sure who had more fun...Flame Glitterwand or her mom.|
|Moth Willowglimmer hard at work.|
|Shimmer Roseglow may be quiet but she knows how to rock a fairy house.|
|Briar Iceshimmer and her mom.|
|So many sprinkles...so little time!|
|The Glitter Gang.|