Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jenna's Christmas Swimming Birthday Party

Jenna turned 9 this November.

But I only got my act together six weeks later to throw her a party. My brilliant rationale was that if I held it a little later than usual, I'd have a little more time to plan it.

Because, you know, I'm totally twiddling my thumbs during Advent.

Which, if I'd actually done the Math, was when I might have realized the party would be.

Ah, the benefits of hindsight - mockery and wisdom in one swift kick in the backside.


We had a blast

Because these are kids, and there are only so many years in their childhood when they'll want to do parties like these, and only so many years in which we'll be able to capture their unadulterated party glee in photos like that one above.

And, therefore, I will never, ever, ever regret throwing parties for my kids, no matter how manic they are or how multitasked I am.

Or how ostensibly dubious the timing.

Anyway, since we'd missed the good-weather-for-outdoor-bashes window by a good 4 months, we held the celebrations at our local swim school where the girls train during the week. 

The kids swam and played in the water, and then adjourned to the party room.

I loved that it was a simple party - no organized games, no crazy treasure hunts  - just enjoying friends, and eating food, cozy and warm, both in the water and out. 

Because it was so close to Christmas, Jenna wanted a part-Christmas, part-aquatic theme. Which was wonderful, because the swim school was already decked out for Christmas. 

She also wanted a cookie/dessert buffet.

So we made her favorites: sugar cookies, chocolate-dipped shortbread,


 and eclairs,

Have I mentioned before that my kids don't like birthday cakes? I can't remember the last time we actually had a birthday cake at our parties. Each year, they ask for anything but a cake - brownie slab, ice cream pies, doughnut tower . . . and each year I have to be creative and make it happen. I love the challenge.

This year, it was a bowl of cream puffs. It would've been profiteroles, but I couldn't be bothered to make the tiny, tiny shells - or the spiderweb of caramel that would've made them truly photo-worthy.

The dessert buffet, to Jenna's unending delight, turned out to be a hit with her guests. I am always thrilled when their ideas go down well, because I get to see their added joy at having made a good call at their own parties. And I especially love it when that good call is a result of them having thought outside the box. 

Our goodie bags/take-home treats were just as eclectic.

In keeping with the Christmas theme, we made everyone Christmas stockings,

which were reversible,

and onto which we appliqued their initials.

We didn't truly obey the Christmas-colors rule, though - Jenna wanted purple,

and someone else wanted Minion.

Inside the stockings we put edibles, like candy bars and these fishbowls.

We bought the jars at IKEA,

and a large tub each of blue Sixlets and blue-raspberry jellybeans;

filled them halfway,

put in a couple of Swedish fish,

and then topped them the rest of the way up.

This fish-in-blue-candy idea came from Pinterest, incidentally. There are many variations of it (e.g. Goldfish crackers in blue MnMs, for instance) in all kinds of containers (the most common being plastic cups), but we wanted a container with a lid, that looked like a fishbowl, and IKEA came through for us.

We also wanted the guests to take home something to play with, so the girls made slime,

in different colors, and put a tub in each stocking.

I love that I can now delegate party tasks to my kids! Like this slime-making - they had so much fun choosing the colors and adding glitter and making swirl patterns. Emily, having had so much practice at her own Science party last year, is practically a slime expert now, so I assigned her the job. She got out her slime recipes and whipped up batch after batch, with her sisters helping and performing QC. 

Incidentally, she has this feedback for you guys: the bubble (liquid starch) slime recipe is superior to the borax slime recipe, but the borax slime recipe is the one you want for putty or (if you add cornstarch) making bouncy balls.

We like to also send home items that are practical, so we also gave each guest a bath towel.

Nice ones can get pricey, so we planned ahead and bought them on Black Friday, and thrilling discounts.

Once again, I am triumphant to report that we've failed to make everything matchy-matchy with the theme (hello, Christmas Swimming?) Hurrah!

Up next is a quick tutorial on making those reversible stockings!


  1. The party sounds delightful, and I love all the gift ideas! Another success for you all! A belated Happy Birthday wish for you, Jenna!

  2. Hello,
    wonderful, as usual !
    Just one comment on slime : we can't do that in France, because Borax is forbidden (as well as in UK), due to its nocivity against fertility and foetus...
    It's a pity, but I want my girl to have nice babies in a few years...
    Take care !

    Thank you for all your posts (I'm looking forward to reading the new tutorials on zipped bags...)

    Anne, from Montpellier in south of France

    1. Anne: I had no idea Borax was outlawed anywhere! Is it the whole of Europe, too?
      Also, you can also make slime with liquid starch instead of Borax. My daughter claims it actually makes a better slime than with Borax.

  3. What a fun party! I may steal your fishbowl party for Emma's party (coming up in February, which reminds me I need to set a date for it).

    I'm pretty sure Borax is outlawed throughout Europe only as a food additive. Since none of the kids at your party are young enough to try eating it, I wouldn't worry (and sounds like you used liquid starch anyhow - the slime looks lovely!). Here's more info on the Borax controversy, if you are curious:

  4. Thank you all for your help.
    I think I will find something approaching, and healthcare.
    Merry Christmas to all of you.
    Anne, from Montpellier in south of France


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