When it comes to birthday parties, I tend to prefer the old school, backyard variety to a location shindig. Don't get me wrong, we've had loads of fun at various bowling alley, zoo, science museum, gymnastics center, puppet theater parties. And, I completely understand the allure of no post party clean-up -- I found sprinkles embedded in every crevice of our house for a full three months after Audrey's last b-day party. But I am completely and totally smitten with a classic party. I love a wonky homemade cake topped with melty vanilla ice cream, I love the inevitable chaos of a pinata, I love bouncy houses and balloons and crepe paper...the whole enchilada.
My friend Achlee is particularly genius at throwing a massively successful backyard birthday party. (I, on the other hand, am perhaps not so adept at it. Case in point, last year I was made fun of mercilessly for serving a giant platter of fried chicken to a slew of four-year olds at Audrey's princess themed party, but friends, let me assure you, those kids loved that fried chicken. Loved. It. ) But back to Achlee...She comes up with brilliantly simple themes at midnight on the eve of the party that turn out better than something I've worked on for months. And, she's super gifted at the art of "the favor."
It should be said that I'm not a huge fan of the concept of party favors or more specifically, goodie bags. I know, I know...It's a bit of a faux pas not to love goodie bags, but back in the day wasn't it "treat" enough to leave someone's home having had a blast, on a total sugar high, with a fistful of hard won pinata candy and perhaps a slightly deflating balloon? I wrack my brain over what to stuff in that little goodie bag, and it somehow manages to stump me every single time. But not brilliant Achlee, who seems to hone in on exactly what every kid aged 4-14 would love to take home after a party. She doesn't waste a lot of time with fancy packaging or plastic doo dads. She just fills giant bowls with jumbo packs of fruit stripe gum (so flavorful, so fleeting) mounds of gummy bears, gold foil wrapped chocolate coins and big bottles of bubbles, and the kids giddily grab fistfuls on the way out the door.