This past weekend, we held a big 5th birthday party for Brady at our house in Charlotte.
The party wasn’t exactly what we had planned for, but it ended up being even better than we expected. It was a total blast, and we were all so very pleased with it. At the end of the day, Brady said it was “the best party ever” so I think we accomplished what we set out to do.
You often see a couple cute pictures from a party on social media, and that’s that. But I thought it would be fun to dig in to get the details and the how/why with this blog post, because there’s always a story behind the photos. (Also, I made a little video about the party, which you can see here.)
We had planned to set up an outdoor party in our backyard with a bounce house and our play-set, some pretty green trees behind us for a vista, and the convenience of a deck and a porch with seating for adults. But once Hurricane Ian came through with wind and rain the days leading up to the party, we had to pivot our plans.
(Side note: We’re so glad we didn’t have a serious storm here, and I’m still sending some love to my Florida friends who went through the worst of it.)
Luckily, it didn’t rain on the day of Brady’s party like it was supposed to (we had been eagerly checking the weather for days and days, and it had been a 90 percent chance of rain that somehow disappeared). But the area behind our house was drenched and muddy, so we decided to have the party on our driveway and in our garage. It’s not the scenic setting I had envisioned, but honestly, I think it was probably better than our original plan, because it offered all of our guests more free space to roam.
Now, let’s do a little recap of Brady’s birthday bash …
All the details on Brady’s 5th birthday party at our house
We were due for a big party for our little guy. We had a big party for Brady when he turned one, then we did super small parties for two and and three (before and during COVID), and a tiny family party when he turned four. We had planned to go big for his fifth, and I think we did just that.
Sending out digital invites for an afternoon party
I sent out Paperless Post invitations for Brady’s party a whole six weeks in advance to get it on the calendar. When we had Brady’s first birthday, I sent out actual invitations in the mail, but I feel like that’s a dying trend, except maybe for weddings. Save the paper, folks. I always get text or email invitations for parties now, and I appreciate it. I like to keep everything digital, if I can.
And while a lot of kid parties are in the morning, we decided to go with the afternoon, because most of Brady’s friends are around his age, and we knew they could handle a 3 p.m. start. Personally, I prefer an afternoon party too. We didn’t put an end time on the invite, and we just said 3 p.m.
On the day of the party, most people had arrived by 3:15 p.m., and the last friends left just before 6 p.m., so it was almost a three-hour party, which is just perfect.
Choosing a race car theme and shopping for party supplies mostly online
I had talked to Brady about what theme he wanted for the party for a while leading up to it, and he kept saying he wanted a shark theme and a Hot Wheels theme. This stopped me from ordering things, until I was finally able to help him settle on a generic “race car” theme, which worked much better than trying to combine two themes.
Once we had the theme, I went to town on Amazon one morning and knocked out ordering so much in one sitting. I mean, you can really do a party through Amazon alone. Here’s what I got that day:
- I ordered two packs of these plates, cups, straws, utensils and napkins with race cars.
- I ordered this number five piñata.
- I ordered this pack of race cars to fill the piñata with some candy.
- I ordered two of these race track tablecloths.
- I ordered these snap bracelets, which Brady went around and gave to his friends as a party favor, along with a race car sticker.
- I ordered these temporary tattoos, which I put on Brady’s friends as another party favor.
- I also ordered these plastic cups, which doubled as wine glasses and fruit cups for both kids and adults.
We didn’t do gift bags for his friends, because the bracelets, tattoos, cars and candy from the piñata seemed like enough. And I think the kids would agree that worked out fine.
Ordering the party supplies was easy, but next up, we had to figure out the entertainment and the set up …
Borrowing gear from friends and planning out the entertainment for the kids
We are lucky that our friends have a lot of cool stuff on hand. I borrowed the bounce house from a friend, and it was super easy for Dave to set up. I borrowed some big drink tubs and two 8-foot fold-out tables from another friend. I also borrowed a big Hot Wheels track from a friend, which we set up on a box converted into a table for kids to play with.
We put Brady’s little Ikea table and chairs out in the garage with some crayons and white paper, and some kiddos spent time there coloring. We also pulled out all of Brady’s vehicles, like his balance bike, tricycle, motorcycle, scooter and little push-cart onto the driveway, and this kept a lot of the littler kids busy too.
The kids were never bored, and they never stopped moving, so I think we had enough for them to do pieced together. Also, it was entertaining for the adults to watch them in action, because kids are funny.
Making the best of our garage and driveway and some super-cool decorations from family
On the morning of the party, Dave did the majority of the heavy lifting to get set up. We moved a bunch of the stuff in our garage near the walls tightly, then hung some extra white sheets to cover up some “garagey” areas. Then, Dave got out the ladder and strung white Christmas lights all through the garage to make it more festive — and it sure did make it festive.
He also pulled out the sidewalk chalk and drew all over the driveway for a grand entrance. He did some drawings, labeled the garage floor, and it just made it a little more fun and less “garagey” — once again.
And now for the decorations: My sister-in-law, Stephanie (who came up from Atlanta with my brother just for the party, which we were so happy about), is super crafty, and once we had the birthday party theme, I let her know. She went to work and showed up with so many amazing decorations for the race car vibe. She brought orange cones, race car flags and balloons, (she even brought her own helium machine to blow them up, which is amazing). And she made a couple of birthday signs too.
Stephanie did the same for Brady’s nautical-themed first birthday back in California, and she really knows what she’s doing. The decorations are so good, we’re going to keep up some of them in the garage moving forward because they look so cool. And Brady took some of the other decorations and put them up in his room.
With the help of Dave’s ingenuity on garage set-up, with Stephanie’s craftiness for cute decorations, and by borrowing from a lot of friends, it took a lot of the burden off me to do the whole party, that’s for sure. I handled the inviting, the food, the drinks, the set up and the planning. But I definitely had a lot of support, and I love that.
All about our party guests
Now, let’s talk about our guests. Because I sent out invitations before the school year even started, we didn’t invite Brady’s whole class. We did have two of his closest friends from his class there and their moms (another one was supposed to come, but wasn’t feeling well that day), and the rest of the kiddos were his neighborhood friends who he knows through me and my lady friends.
I invited 40 people, but a couple of families were out of town or unable to make it. We ended up with 30 people total, and I think the mix was 17 adults and 13 children, which was a perfectly sized party, including three family members (my mom, brother and sister-in-law — yay!).
The busy-ness and fun of hosting a big party
I love hosting! But dang, it’s a lot!
I was so busy during the day of the party, I feel like I didn’t do a great job introducing people who didn’t know each other. And it was funny that I woke up in the middle of the night the night after the party and thought of that. Has that ever happened to you? I went to bed thinking we had the greatest party and it went so well and everyone loved it. Then, all of a sudden, I felt bad that there were a couple sets of people who didn’t know the whole group, and I didn’t connect everyone like I normally like to and normally do — although it does seem like everyone was talking to someone throughout the entire party.
In fact, I think I’m usually much better at helping people get started chatting and such in a social setting, but during the party, I was mostly doing other things. I walked around with Brady to hand out snap bracelets. I greeted people and put presents away. I sat at a table and put tattoos on little kids. I cut the cake and plated it. I refilled food trays. I refilled drinks. And I chatted a little, and next thing you know it was almost over.
Don’t get me wrong — I sipped on champagne and had fun for sure, but I also felt like it went by quickly and I wished I had more time with each guest. No big deal though, I think most people understand that that’s how it goes when you host.
The best parts of the party for the kids
But back to the party. Do you want to know the things that were a hit? The bounce house and the piñata. Seriously, the kiddos were going crazy in the bounce house, and there were many times a parent had to step in and tell them to calm down. The kids ranged from three to almost seven in there, and they were just bouncing off the walls. But, every time a kid came out crying from an injury, they asked to go right back in. I just had to stop watching and let it play out.
When it was time to do the piñata, we lined all the kiddos up, and they each got to swing twice, then let the next person go. They were whacking that thing as hard as they could, and it didn’t budge, so finally Dave had to jump in and break it. Then all the stuff fell to the floor and the kids swarmed. It was hilarious. I watched as some kids collected what they wanted and ran it all over to their parents for safe keeping. It was candy and cheap race cars. Once again, kids are so funny.
While the kids partied, the adults sipped on beer, wine and bubbles and snacked on some appetizer-type finger foods we put out. And then we sang “happy birthday” to Brady, had cake and little by little our guests began to make their departure, with full bellies and tuckered-out kids.
During the course of the party, there were some tears, a couple booboos and a little bit of tattle tailing from bounce-house shenanigans, but overall, it went off without a hitch. I was fully immersed into the party the whole time, and it felt like it flew by. I just loved watching Brady party with his buddies and have so many special friends there for us to hang out with too.
Where we got the food, drink and cake
We bought the balloons, a platter of deli wrap sandwiches, cheese, crackers, fruit and the cake all at Publix, and Publix doesn’t disappoint. We still have some of the cake left, and will be working our way through if for the next few days, as well as working our way through the little wrap sandwiches that are remaining (ham and cheese, and oh-so satisfying, also what I had for lunch today).
As far as the cake, while I did get buttercream on the outside, I went with a slab of cream cheese frosting through the middle, and it was very tasty. I can’t have a cake without cream cheese frosting.
Fun fact: The cake was way too big. I ordered a cake that served 30 to 40, and that’s not how many people had cake. I know cupcakes are a lot easier, but I sure do love the look and fanfare of cutting a big sheet cake, and that’s just what we did.
For the kids, we had a bunch of little snack food, juice boxes, cookies, candy and fruit cups. Brady and I bought nearly all of that in one trip through Target about a week in advance, and getting that set up for the kids was as simple as can be.
Because we held the party in the middle of the afternoon, we didn’t have to put out a full meal, which helped a lot. And we ended up with a little bit left, but not too much, so I think we estimated the right amount.
Closing thoughts on hosting Brady’s big 5th birthday bash
Honestly, it’s a big effort and expense to host a party for 30 people at your house, especially when you have to plan activities for a bunch of kids (adults are content to just stand around, you know).
Also, leading up to the party, we felt like things were a little crazy, worrying about the weather and more. A few things happened out of the ordinary in our house that needed to be taken care of, and then Brady broke the towel rack off the wall in the guest/powder room downstairs we’d be using for the party, so Dave was sanding and painting the wall an hour before people arrived. But somehow, we pulled it off.
The clean-up part wasn’t too bad, and because we had my mom, Matthew and Stephanie around to assist in the team effort, we all sipped on wine, turned on music and got everything inside and organized in less than an hour. It was a record for party clean-up, and I love that. And it made it fun to do it together.
But even with all the planning and then the stress of the changing the setting and getting everything ready, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Although, Dave and I already decided that next year, we’ll let Brady do something smaller with a little group of friends and keep these bigger parties for every few years. Maybe we’ll do another big one at 7 or 10. Who knows!
Overall, this party was all about the people, and we loved celebrating our favorite boy with close friends and my sweet family. We were missing a few out-of-town besties and special folks, but our hearts were full watching Brady and his little friends run around smiling, laughing and having fun. Brady gave almost all of his friends hugs when they arrived and departed, and that made me so happy. l could tell how much he loved his party, even if he was sweaty and bare foot.
And now, he’s officially 5! 🙂
Thanks so much for coming by to read about Brady’s 5th birthday bash! I hope you have a great weekend, and I’ll see you back here soon.
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Questions of the day for YOU …
What’s your favorite part about birthday parties?
Do you like a paper or digital invitations these days?
How was your weekend?