Sunday, February 23, 2014

Clementine's Circus Birthday Party

Hard to believe, but our Wild Orange turns five, this week. Yesterday, we celebrated her birthday with a circus-themed party, the idea for which was born (as are so many things, in these parts) of thrift; Jim and I--just after Christmas, on a rare date--came across several bins of Ringling Bros. - Barnum and Bailey party items on clearance at Michael's. Clementine wasn't sure about the circus theme until her daddy promised a unicorn pinata (as opposed to, say, a clown pinata), but she ended up having a ball.

I gave Clementine full control over the guest list, so this party felt more like a party of her friends than a party of our family friends, if that makes sense. I experienced some anxiety about it, but--when I counted up the children she named and their siblings--I thought there were plenty enough for an in-house party.

As a significant aside (or two), I experienced anxiety last month after I'd suggested Cade invite six friends (all of whom I love) for a birthday sleepover but he decided he wanted to celebrate with exactly two of them. The evening of Cade's sleepover, the little girls wanted to be all up in the boys' business (of course), and I had to remind them: it's Cade's birthday. Fast-forward two weeks, and--when I asked Clementine whom she wanted to invite to her birthday party--she said first and without hesitation: "Sam." Cade's best friend.

And here's the great news: Samwise loves her and all of us, and--just like every other person Clementine invited--he showed up for her circus party. She hugged him hard and then turned on her big brother like an old, wet hen. "This is my birthday," she said, wagging her finger, "and Sam is here for my party. So you need to leave him alone." She soon forgot, in the happy chaos, to pay attention to the big boys, but here's a truth that cracks my mama heart open a little: Cade and Sam never left the party. They were right there the whole time, and Clementine!, when the others left, they assembled your Barbie pool.

Sam and Cade

Switching gears (*sniff*), the haul from Michael's included a ton of photo props:

I love the look on Clementine's face, below; her nose had just fallen off! The balloon backdrop is a plastic tablecloth from the Dollar Tree, and behind the kids (to the left) is a circus tent Jim bought off Amazon.

Cade and I made a "pin the nose on the clown" game:

Our menu included hotdogs and/or animal-shaped chicken nuggets on animal paper plates (from the Dollar Tree) and red-and-white paper food trays (from Sam's Club). We also provided popcorn (in red-and-white bags from the Dollar Tree), pretzels, animal crackers, baby carrots (in a weak attempt to be healthful - ha!), and lemonade. 

Hooray for a warm-enough, February day for pinata fun in our backyard party shack. Jim bought the pinata off Amazon. All the Amazon purchases were covered entirely by Rewards Card points; we use this credit card for all big purchases and pay the balance every month.

Clementine received many cool gifts, but I have to say that this one has probably been most popular:

The Gift-giver, Showing How It Works

The Birthday Girl

Jim worked tirelessly in pulling things together for the party, but I had to put my foot down when he suggested taking over cake duty. I did allow him to stack my three 9x13, tie-dyed layers and touch up the icing. Oh, and he'd purchased the cake toppers off Amazon. What a great dad! I love that he wants to make childhood magical for our kids and feel closest to him when we're pressing, together, into this common passion.

Jim had put together lots of party-favor options--treat boxes (Amazon) stuffed with items from the Dollar Tree; cotton candy (clearance Valentine's Day from the Dollar Tree); and bags of animal crackers (Dollar Tree) and circus peanuts (Big Lots) tied to helium balloons--for the guests to take home. He'd found the helium balloon tank at Target for about $22, which is more than we would've paid if my brother had brought helium from his business but less than if we'd shopped Party City, where the same tank is about $40.

Daddy's Girl

What a great day, and five feels like such a big number for our Wild Orange! I'll have more to say about that, though, in my next post.


  1. Every bit of this is precious! And those teens! Be proud, mama! ... And your husband! What memories you both are making for your family! (Now I am done using exclamation points.)

  2. So absolutely wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Your photos are magical! Your girlie is growing up so fast. And I loved that your hubs was so involved in the party plans.

  4. Samwise loves you all as well. He had fun and we appeciate your kind words and opportunity for unforgetable family fun.

  5. Looks like a great party!

    Sam is a good friend and Cade is a sweet big brother. Their voluntary participation may be the best gift of all, even if Clementine is not yet old enough to fully appreciate it.

  6. I always imagined you were a fantastic party thrower!

    1. I'm always hospitable in my chaos, but I'm not typically a fantastic part thrower in the "put together" sort of way, which is why Jim stepped in for MeMe's #5. :)

  7. I love your party them! How cool that Sam came!

  8. THIS IS FABULOUS , I love every single word, photo and exclamation point. I want to say the balloons are magical as is JIM and you in this post I love it and the green face thing...we had a metal one and loved it so much when my kids grew up, I'm glad we retrieved it from frisbees. AND CLEMENTINES FACE ......and boots and breakfast, I just loved it all (except the part chip almost fell and gave me a heart attack) I am sorry I had not seen this before hand to express my proudness to you . there were a couple of other things I had to see / hear that day from you guys (tell you later) ...this would have definitely been the ONLY topic as the balloons , I love the balloons and your letter.... :) you know I adore you