It was my little girl's 5th time around the sun and what sanguine child would not want a birthday party with special friends. Last year we did a "Save The Bee" Party but this time we did not have a particular theme. I bought The Birthday Book: Celebrations for everyone and was able to read it and get ideas several months ahead of time. I highly recommend this resource if you want to throw a homemade, non-commercial, non-plasticky Waldorf-inspired party for your child. We had animal friends visit, some games, homemade pizza and cake, and a table puppet show.
I made a wool felted crown and found a rainbow dress at the MamaCents consignment sale for $6 in the spring.
I also found a beautiful redhead doll on Ebay. I named her Scarlett Sundari (Sundari means beautiful in Sanskrit). I knit my first sweater using Waldorfmama's Doll Cardigan. It was wonderfully easy to knit for a newbie knitter like myself. Scarlett is wearing a cotton knitted dress that both me and my daughter wore when we were infants. Hooray for vintage!
Making the take-home gift bags was fun. I did not want to give anything plastic or anything too sweet, since we know that children open those bags on the way home. There's no need to have more sugar after birthday cake and lots of excitement that day. I also wanted to include some homemade items. The birthday girl and I made beeswax flowers from unrefined beeswax and she decorated the bags with a sun potato stamp and some other stamps and tempera paint a week before.
Here's what was in the bags: rainbow craft stick bundles, beeswax flower, organic raisins, soft wool yarn for string games or crafts, shiny origami paper, small animal stickers.
My mother wanted to pay for Traveling Zoo to come visit with a pony and some small farm animals. Even though I thought it might be too much activity for the children in one day with the activities i already had planned, they all loved it. They got to ride the pony several times and used their gentle hands while petting the goats, duck, chicks, and fluffy bunny. I also learned that the woman who owns the business considers the animals her business partners and friends and does not send them to slaughter. I'm not too sure about the chickens, but to a peace-loving vegetarian family like ours knowing the goats aren't going to become a stew means a lot.
After the animals left, everybody washed up and then went on a surprise trail. We flitted like butterflies, walked slowly like big bears, went across a canyon (balance beam), visited a fairy home and a gnome home, then finally came to a bell bush, where each child got a ribbon necklace with a jinglebell at the end.
Then everyone came inside because it was getting warm and we played the game Pass the Parcel.
It's basically a layered tissue game where each layer has a small item and it is wrapped individually around the previous layer. The children sit in a circle and pass the gift around while everyone sings a song. When the song is over, the child who has the parcel in their lap gets to open one layer. Some ideas for small items: shell, crystal, marble, small ball of yarn, origami paper, small dollhouse items, wool ball, stickers, jinglebell.
Then it was PIZZA time. I normally do lots of the cooking but dearest husband offered to make homemade pizza. Some for the kids (cheese, cheese and pineapple), some for the adults (arugula, pesto, and even goat cheese with figs). We are very lucky to have such a special guy in our family! Hardly any waste was made from the meal because we used Chinet compostable plates, cups made of corn PLA, and compostable knives and forks. Everything went out into our 2 wire mesh compost bins. Most food was organic and some was even from Greenling (that's where we got the compostable cups)!
After pizza, we had cake which I got from Whole Foods. I'm not a baking extraordinaire and last year I was up to 3am crying because the cake I was baking was sinking in. We aren't vegan, but we don't use eggs in our home, so baking a decent eggless cake especially for a lot of people is not my forte'.
While the eating was going on, the children who were done fast were able to make a craft that would be used in the puppet show. Little wooden figures were covered in wool felt, cotton fabric, ribbon, and wool hair. They all turned out so cute with their own personalities, just like the children themselves. It's amazing what beautiful things can be made with simple items.
The crazy part of the party and probably at parties everywhere is the gift opening. Last year I requested no gifts because I was afraid of the onslaught of Disney and media characters that my child would love and things that would make me cringe. Since most of her friends go to a Waldorf school or are Waldorf inspired, the gifts were lovely...yarn & needles, wool felted doll, beeswax, playsilks, child's apron, bead set, colored chalk. My brother got her more of those wonderful Fairy Books (Red, Green & Blue). She even got an Ostheimer mama lion and cub. My husband got her the knight's outfit from Nova Natural. My funny sister did not follow the "rules" and got her a Sleeping Beauty outfit! It is pretty in pink but I think we may just have to remove the Sleeping Beauty likeness for now and make it just a generic princess dress.
I wanted to end the party on a sweet and quiet note. Children under 7 are generally still within a dreamlike state where fantasy and reality are not separate realms. They can believe stories and the moral lessons they impart. They also believe in the good of the world and if they have nice examples to imitate, the goodness of the human being. The table puppet play comes from the Birthday Book. It incorporates some of the traditional elements of Waldorf birthstory including an angel friend, the rainbow bridge, and the parents waiting for the child.
In this story, the angel has given the child a treasure bag with heavenly items to bring with her to the world. She comes over the rainbow bridge, meets a gnome and forgets the bag on the side of a stream. She goes on playing, then sees a path that leads to her parent's home. Then they give her a name. One day, she has a birthday and invites friends. The wooden figures the guest children made had been gathered and are placed on the table one by one in the order they came to the party. The children all laughed when their figure was placed on the table. Finally the birthday child is sad when her friends have to leave and wishes she could give them something. A birthday fairy tells her that the Wise Gnome has kept her treasure bag and she will ask him to bring it. Each child is then given one of the heavenly treasures on a golden string.
A heavenly raindrop is a piece of blue glass, a sunbeam is a glass ball etc. To hear the oohs and ahhs and the wonder of the children was enchanting. Then the Wise Gnome gives the birthday child a golden star to remember the light and to share it with the world.
It was such an endearing story that I teared up at the end. I find the innocence of children so beautiful. Here's to Kelly, a little light to the world. Happy 5th Birthday!