I decided to choose the decorative stuff for the party around the pajamas Eyrleigh picked to wear for that night. We went shopping at some of our favorite stores at the mall and she FINALLY picked a pair of Old Navy pajamas that were liliac and purple with a cheetah (or it could have been a leopard, I never did figure that out!). So purple cheetah print it was! I'm not an animal print fan myself but there is a lot of animal print stuff out there so it made it easy...sort of. Purple cheetah print was a little tougher to find than pink. I never did find full bolts of purple cheetah print but I did find a website, Jellyrollfabrics.com, that had strips of purple and pink cheetah print to use in decoration.
Every good party has to begin with cool invites and I found some I loved on Etsy from a vendor, Cutie Patootie Creations ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/CutiesTieDyeBoutique). Stephanie was super quick to respond and made some changes that went perfectly with what I wanted. She changed the little girl's hair to red to match E's and changed the text on the thank-you card to let guests know to bring new pajamas to donate to the Pajama Program (check them out at www.pajamaprogram.org) in lieu of gifts. The only thing I would have changed was the wording of "regrets only" to "RSVP". I think RSVP makes people more conscientious about letting you know if they are coming and also would have let me know how many adults and extra kids to plan for.
I used the strips of purple and pink cheetah print fabric to decorate the table and used liliac and purple party supply stuff from Party City as the base. You can't see it in the picture but I also got a "Happy Birthday" banner from Cutie Patootie to go above the table. We had hot dogs, chili, chips, juice boxes, and soda available for dinner. Richard did grilling duties and Mom helped me with the chili that was in the crockpot all day. One of the other cool things I found in purple cheetah print was edible cake stickers. (link here) I always have my girlfriend Devi make the cake for us. She does a beautiful job (she decorated cakes for a bakery in college) and I love that E's cakes are one of a kind. The cake sticker was the size of a sheet of paper and Devi just cut out the pajamas, slippers, and letters for the cake and decorated around them. It made it really easy (for her, still would have been hard for me!) and though the stickers taste like fondant (YUCK!) there wasn't enough used to detract from the yummy buttercream frosting.
There are some wonderful party design sites on the web and I love to look through their amazing ideas for decorations and food. But here's the truth, kids could care less if you label the food with matching labels and color coordinate your table. Kids want to have fun and a party without activities will quickly become a nightmare for all involved. Since I had 40 (yes, you read that right!) kids on the invite list, never mind their parents and siblings, I knew I had to have lots of activities and have them spread throughout the house. My house is not that big and is chopped into rooms instead of the more modern large living/dining/kitchen area that can fit lots of people at once. The picture below shows the sign that greeted guests as they came in.
Each activity followed in the pajama party theme. The most ambitious project was to make each child a pillowcase with their name on it. I bought 14 yards of inexpensive white fabric and cut it in one foot sections. Using the fabric edge as the top seam, I simply sewed up the two sides and flipped the case inside out. Obviously these cases wouldn't fit standard size pillows but they were fun to decorate with stickers and could hold the treasures the kids collected in another activity. Mom and I cut every kid's name out of the cheetah print fabric in either purple, pink, or brown. I used Steam-A-Seal 2 Double Stick Fusible Webing to first iron the webbing to the print fabric, then the letters to the pillowcase. I didn't give myself time to reinforce these letters by stitching but it would have been a good idea as some of the letters started coming off at the party. I had debated printing the letters for each child's name on the computer but writing it out by hand was actually pretty cute! I attached a couple of pictures so it looks pretty doable. It really was!
I took an extra queen mattress and put it in the middle of the floor in Rylynn's room and let the kids jump on it. We let the kids play in Eyrleigh's room and set out her toys. We turned on Dinosaur Train, her favorite PBS show in the office, for kids to watch if they wanted. My dad, who generally hides during parties, hid out in our room with some stuffed animals and buckets. He had fun showing kids how to play Stuffed Animal Horseshoes! The kids favorite activity was probably the treasure hunt in our backyard. We gave each child a flashlight (the super-cheap ones at Oriental Trading) and sent them into the backyard to look for treasures in the dark. Thankfully our yard is fenced in and the pool is on the deck so it was a relatively safe activity. The treasures were those glass beads you put in vases to hold plants, some silly bands on clearance, and a few bags of small decorative shell you can buy at the craft store for a few dollars a bag. The kids loved them!
After the cake, we had all the kids move to the living room and we showed the birthday episode from the cute series "Harold and the Purple Crayon". As the kids left, we gave them a bag with a book ($1 books from Scholastic), Oreo cookies, and a carton of milk.