My son turned three on Friday. And compared to last years crazy playdate where 14 children and about 30 adults spent a Saturday at our house turning it inside out upside down, this year was tame as a goldfish going round it's bowl.
We had just 6 other kids, all within 5 months in age to him and all of whom live locally. We decorated simply with swirly yellow things hanging from the ceiling and lilac and yellow helium balloons floating amidst them.
As activities we had painting. Each child got a ceramic birdhouse and a tray of paints. And in the centre of our low plastic covered coffee table was a giant jar with about 40 different paintbrushes. When they were done with the birdhouses I gave them each a small square canvas with their names and the date on the side. With motherly supervision they each managed a lovely colorful hand print. I then acrylic sprayed everything on the balcony away from them so that the fumes wouldn't bother us. This made the colours pop and harden the paint against future exposure to water/ sun. Then they all went and jumped on the bed and scattered the contents of his toy boxes all over the house while I got lunch organised.
Our circular table had a pale yellow tablecloth with his wooden track encircling it. With a tunnel, bridge and toll gate for interest and every one of his wood engines on the track this made the table fairly interactive. We had square yellow paper plates, purple glasses, yellow cutlery and lilac napkins with sheep on them.
The cake was a marvelous train. We decided not to go for a Thomas the tank engine train as I imagined a mini meltdown involving a beloved character being cut. Instead My friend made this masterpiece - chocolate with sheet icing, Oreos for wheels and carriages piled high with m&m's. We also had a second cake, strawberry and marzipan, from Paul, which was not inflicted with spit from the mouths of 7 children blowing out candles with great vigour.
So the final menu was cake, fresh strawberries, chunks of cucumber, pots of yogurt, buttered bread and fresh salmon fishcakes to eat. For the adults a platter of cold cuts, baguette and cornichons. Juice for everyone.
Our return gift was the birdhouse and canvas each child had worked on, the reusable paint pots and a book individually chosen for each kid.
It was a small and intimate party. It was over in 3 hours from start to finish in the morning when the kids were in the best possible mood.
My son is three. Or as he yells 'free' while he tries to show us the correct number of fingers to accompany this announcement. Again and again. Loud louder loudest. As if if it is not said at the highest decibels we might not take this seriously.
Spending my morning with this bunch of little ones I fear we have moved on from the terrible twos only to land in the unknown but possibly terrifying threes! Wish me luck.