Blow Out Tween Birthday

Gone are my glory days of major theme birthday party planning. I am no longer building full sized pirate ships out of refrigerator boxes or sewing doll sleeping bags for every guest. My kids are officially tweens, and our birthday party celebrations are much more subdued and simpler to plan. We typically send an e-mail to one or two friends a few days before the birthday and do something like swim at the neighborhood pool or go to a movie. No theme. No major prep. I am a little sad but also a little relieved.

One low prep option we tried this year is to take a friend to a blow-out hair bar to have hair styled and then home for a late afternoon tea. It is a perfect party for a small group, is easy to plan, and is a great option for girls ages 11+.

The Activity

Book appointments at a BLO BAR like THIS ONE. It is a franchise and has locations in several cities. Even if you don’t have this specific brand near you, there are blow dry salons popping up all over. Pay a flat fee and clients choose from a menu of hair options. Appointments take about 45 minutes, and the group can usually sit in side by side seats and visit with each other. Following the hair styling, return to the birthday girl’s house for a tea or go to a nearby cupcake or ice cream store for a birthday snack.

The Tea

For an afternoon tea, we like to serve THIS DILL DIP and veggies. Find shot glass sized plastic containers with a pedestal foot (they look like miniature trifle dishes) and put a dollop of dip at the bottom. Stack red and yellow pepper strips, celery sticks, and cucumber slices in the cups. This is a great way to prep the servings ahead of time. Make small, triangle tea sandwiches on squishy bread with the crusts cut off and offer a berry fruit salad with fresh mint cut in chiffonade and simple syrup drizzled over the top.

The Cake

Serve individual sized cakes, so guests can serve themselves. We have a new cake shop near us called Nothing Bundt Cake. It is a franchise too, so I have seen locations in other cities. Try their bundtinis, which are the mini size and stack several bundtinis on a cake stand. Have one bundtlet size for candle-blowing-out and singing.

The Party Favor and Decorations

My local party store has a new line of paperware made by Meri Meri. It’s the Liberty line, and it has pretty floral patterns and other options that look like a lady’s tea. Create place cards to match by printing on cardstock. Set the place cards in the bristles of travel hairbrushes. Bed, Bath, and Beyond, CVS, and WalMart have many hairbrush choices.

If you need an idea for a group of 2-3 girls who are upper elementary or middle school aged, this is an option that works well. A similar idea would be to book appointments at a nail salon and have pedicures or manicures. Walk-in type salons like the blow out bar and nail shop do not usually book weeks in advance, so it is a party you can plan just a few days out if you have a small number.

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Game On!

classic battleship

Mr. Star Wars is going to a friend’s birthday party this weekend, and we shopped for a present today. I am starting to believe that shopping for a boy around age 9 or 10 is difficult. We have been giving a lot of small Lego sets for birthday presents, which are usually around $10 at Target, but I think it is possible we are aging out of Lego gifts (insert RoomMom’s heart breaking here). Mr. Star Wars chose the classic Battleship game as the birthday gift for this party.

Battleship is a great game and gift. In fact, board games in general might be the answer to my gift dilemma for this age group. As a teacher, I completely approve of this choice. When kids play games, they reinforce great critical thinking and planning skills needed in the classroom. Socially, they learn to take turns, cooperate, and communicate with their opponents. Another great feature is the fact that a variety of ages can play together. Look for sales at Target or WalMart and pick up a few of these games to have on hand as a gift for your next birthday invitation.

hedbanz

  • Battleship: Players must understand coordinates and a grid. They also use the process of elimination to zero in on targets.
  • Hedbanz: Players activate background knowledge and categorize to ask questions that will narrow down options to arrive at an answer. It encourages targeted questioning and the ability to move from general to specific rather than haphazard guessing.
  • Apples to Apples: Participants take an adjective and consider scenarios where the word would be used to create a logical pairing from cards in the players’ hands. It requires vocabulary skills and understanding of context.
  • Trouble: Weigh pros and cons of moving the game piece out of the home base or advancing a piece that is already on the board. There is the opportunity to gauge risk and reward. We also really like the popping noise the plastic bubble makes when you press it to roll dice.
  • Boggle: This game tests a child’s bank of sight words as well as uses knowledge of all of the phonics rules and patterns. If a player is smart, he will locate a base word, then start to add rhyming words or endings (like IN to PIN to SPIN to SPINS) to generate bigger lists.
  • Connect 4: This game works well to help kids begin to anticipate different results of one move (cause and effect). A child can predict what will happen two or three moves out and adjust her choice. There is also a little bit of pattern sorting in this game too.
  • Monopoly: Budgeting, counting money, and making change!
  • Kanoodle: This pocket game contains colorful connected beads that are stacked into shapes. Players use lots of spatial thinking and logic to solve the puzzles.

kanoodle

Do you like to give games for birthday gifts? If so, what are good game choices?

One other tip– if you have games that your children do not play anymore, think about donating them to a classroom. I like to keep games in the back of my room for students who are early finishers or for a rainy day when we have indoor recess.

boggle