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									Happy birthday!
Planning keeps party from turning into three-ring circus
 By Theresa Wulf

  Planning a child’s birthday party
doesn’t have to turn into a three-ring
circus. Unless, of course, that’s the
theme for your party.
  Even with a circus theme and a
bunch of “wild animals” (small children)
running around, throwing a birthday for
the kids can be as much fun for Mom
and Dad as it is for the little ones.
  The key to all of this is planning.
Bellevue Leader intern Lori Safranek,
who suggested we do this story on
parties, and I found that out during the
six weeks we spent planning this story.
  Our circus theme started with the
cake. We purchased a 9-inch round
layer cake at the grocery store, since       Balloons, streamers, brightly colored dishes and toys set off a carousel-deco-
my homemade round layer cakes tend           rated cake for a child’s birthday party. Children will enjoy the circus theme, and
to look like landslides before they’re       parents will like the asy-to-decorate cake. (Photo by Rod Nogosek)
served. We decorated it with sprinkles,
red licorice laces and frosted animal        instructions for this circus birthday      two to three hours for 5- to 9-year-olds.
cookies.                                     party, here are some planning and            •	 Try to plan the party around lunch
  Building on that theme, we purchased       game tips from Maureen Smith               or supper. Mid- to late-afternoon parties
plates and napkins with clowns, and          Williams, child-care editor for McCall’s   can spoil children’s appetites for meals
added a bright yellow plastic tablecloth.    magazine.                                  and interfere with naps.
We twisted crepe paper streamers from          •	 Let children help with planning as      •	 While making your lists, also write
the light and attached them to the wall      much as possible.                          out a schedule of what’s supposed
to make it look and feel like a circus         •	 Don’t overdo − most children like     to happen when. That way you can
tent.                                        things simple.                             keep games going in one room while a
  Our bears (your kids) got hats               •	 Start planning four to six weeks      helper is getting the food ready in the
and party toys to blow (these didn’t         before the party. Make lists for           kitchen.
make any noise). Their favors were           everything, from decorations to              •	 Use balloons, streamers and
balloon animals made by Leader Art           groceries to guests.                       other decorations to create a party
Director Claudette Irvine, who recently        •	 Decide on a theme, which will         atmosphere. If you’re trying to save
completed a class in clowning and            make things easier to plan. Dress-up,      money, don’t worry about buying
learned how to make the animals there.       a favorite sports team or out-of-season    everything that “matches,” especially for
  The cost for all this was less than        themes such as Christmas in July will      smaller children. Splurge on decorated
I expected. We bought plates,                help plan party clothes.                   plates and/or napkins, then buy plain-
napkins, plastic silverware, party             •	 Williams suggests that the rule of    colored accessories that the family can
toys, streamers, ribbon streamers,           thumb for inviting guests is one more      use later, for the rest of the year.
candles, tablecloth and hats for eight       than the child’s age − for example, six      •	 Team games, such as relay races,
for $13. The cake, cookies, licorice and     guests for a 5-year-old. Keep the ages     or games in which no one “wins” are
sprinkles were about $10 more.               of those invited within a year or two so   best party games. For example, an
  Parents planning a party should also       no one gets bored.                         adult could dress up in a crazy costume
figure in costs for invitations, drinks,       •	 Send out invitations 10 days to       with lots of accessories, then leave
cups and favors, which we didn’t need.       two weeks before the party. If your        the room and take one thing off. When
  Games and favors can be combined           child is in school and the whole class     the adult returns, the children have to
for parties, taking care of two birds with   isn’t invited, mailing the invitations     guess what’s missing.
one stone. For example, my niece went        or delivering them to guests’ homes,
to a birthday party this summer where        instead of handing them out at school,
she and the other guests got to paint        can save some hurt feelings.
their own t-shirts, then take them home.       •	 Keep the party short: one to two      Bellevue Leader
  Before we get to the detailed              hours for children under 5 years old;      September 30, 1989
Party decor: Piece of cake
 Here’s how we set up our circus           straw. Repeat for other five animals on   make their own clown faces with non-
party.                                     side of cake. Press one animal cookie     toxic makeup and see who can be the
                                           over each licorice streamer on side of    funniest clown.
Carousel Cake                              cake. For other streamers, poke end of
 9-inch round 2-layer cake, either         licorice whip behind one animal on top    Decorations
homemade or bakery-bought, frosted         rim of cake, taking care not to poke it     We found an assortment of bear,
white                                      through outside of cake. Run lace up      clown, balloon and other types of
 Frosted animal cookies                    to top of straw and cut, leaving enough   decorations in dishes that would work
 Multi-colored round cake sprinkles        to poke into straw. Repeat with other     with this theme. Plates, napkins, cups,
 Red licorice laces                        five cookies.                             tableware, decorations and favors are
 One drinking straw, decorated with                                                  available in grocery stores and variety
red stripes                                Cake decorations                          stores. Hobby stores also have an
 Birthday candles                            Birthday candles can be added to        unusual variety of party items.
                                           the cake. For more decoration, stack        To create a “circus tent,” twist crepe
  Re-smooth frosting on cake; sprinkle     roll candies with holes in the middle     paper streamers from a light or point
with sprinkles. Cut straw in half; stick   over the candles. Or, frost one side of   in the ceiling down and out behind
both halves side-by-side into center       an extra animal cookie; place candle      the table. Adults may want to end the
of cake. Tape tops of straws together.     in center. Frost one side of another      streamers about halfway up the wall to
Stand six frosted animal cookies along     animal cookie; stick to cookie with       make it easier for them to get around
top rim of cake, evenly spaced. Leave      candle. Place around top of cake.         the table to serve cake. Also leave an
enough space between cookies so                                                      opening to get in and out of the tent.
animals on side of cake will alternate     Theme                                       Balloons or ribbon streamers can
with ones on top rim. Run one red            A circus theme has a variety of         hang from the light or center of the
licorice lace from bottom of side of       possibilities. Children could bring       tent to create the “big top.”
cake up to top of straw to create          their favorite stuffed animals for a
streamer behind animal on side of          play circus (be sure to buy hats for      Bellevue Leader
cake; cut and poke end of licorice into    the animals, too). Or, children could     September 30, 1989

								
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