Sunday, June 27, 2010

Highlights Magazine Party

We take birthday parties pretty seriously around here. Especially Tornado (not his real name). He knows what his party is going to be a year in advance. Other kids might change their minds here and there. He does not waver. And he always has such original ideas. You can ask him an idea for something, he'll give you an immediate reply, and chances are, you'll consider using his idea.

He announced that for his next birthday he was going to have a "Highlights party". He loves this magazine. He even loves the High Five version for preschoolers! Finding hidden pictures and determining what's wrong/silly about a picture are two of his favorite things to do in the whole entire world. He also likes to make his own. His other grandmother often gets him the special club packs, like Top Secret Adventure, etc. He just loves all of it; this is what he wanted his party to be.

"Highlights magazine party, huh? Okay, buddy, I'll do my best!"

I came up with enough Hidden Picture pages (He happened to have two different copies of the same Hidden Pictures special edition magazine so I was able to use many pages out of one of those.) to use for the invitations. I glued (with a glue stick) the pages onto cardstock.
I had printed the party information on one side.
(I've marked out names and our personal information here.)
Then I folded them up and tied them with different scrapbook string and ribbon I already had. Different moms told me their kids went right to work on the Hidden Pictures after they received their invitations.
I had to get creative when thinking about decorations. It was nice I didn't have to spend any money on decorations, except for the 24 or so balloons you can't see floating on the ceiling. (As un-environmentally friendly as they are, I am obsessed with balloons at birthday parties.)
I cut out different pages from the magazine and glued them on both sides of a piece of cardstock. Punched holes at the top and tied them with ribbon. Hung them by fishing line from the ceiling/light fixtures.

This is just some of the kids at the beginning, working on their art project.
We ended up having 14 kids total.

When the kids arrived, I gave them a stack of different magazines, a piece of construction paper, glue, and scissors. I showed them an example of a Spare Parts picture Tornado had previously made. They were to use different parts of different people or animals and come up with a new, original character.
I saw this idea for Spare Parts Pictures on (one of his favorite websites). I was looking through the Arts & Crafts section on the website for a craft to do, and saw this one, which is something Tornado loves doing all of the time, anyway. Even some of the adults joined in (a couple of them pretty eagerly, I must say) and made a picture. Aunt Tracy (my sister) was feeling pretty competitive with the kids, I think; she made a really good one.

Here are some of their finished Spare Parts Pictures.

Side note: I totally forgot I had planned for them to play the Hidden Pictures board game. That was the original plan for the party to begin with. He loves that game! Bummer! I do this every party - forget some little thing, and I'm so upset with myself - for my forgetfulness, not because it really matters. Just like I also forgot to put out the pickled beets that Tornado loves having on salad bars. ha! I also forgot about the lentil salad I'd made. I found it in the microwave the next morning.

Every issue of Highlights features a spread of kids' drawings and poems that have been submitted by readers. I used a presentation board and glued on the letters for the title. I asked the kids to bring a creation to share on our board. (I've edited out some of the names.) Top left is Tornado's work. Several times I saw different pairs of kids sitting on the floor in front of the board, looking at all of the artwork.
I was not surprised when Tornado, once again, requested a potato/salad bar for his meal. He just loves to have a smorgasbord of food to choose from. He absolutely loves to make his own salad at Whole Foods. I always say in my next house I'm just going to build a long salad bar with the cooler built in and just let my family eat that way.
Besides food, this was my least expensive party I've ever thrown. And the napkins were even leftover from previous parties in the past. Since we didn't have one color theme, it was easy to throw everything together. (I did buy the plates, but they were the inexpensive kind in the paper goods section at Target, not the fancy kind in the party section.)I cut out fun facts and tongue twisters, etc. from Highlights and glued them onto folded cardstock. I set these around the counter, amongst the food, for decoration.

"E," "H," and Grace, eating their meal

Spot is the Timbertoes' dog. He even has his own feature, The Adventures of Spot, in Highlights Five magazine. Ryan drew a Spot for me on posterboard, and the kids played our own version of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."
lots of giggling going on

They even turned Daddy (Uncle Ryan) around and around and made him try it.

I cut out jokes from different issues of Highlights and glued them onto colored cardstock with a toothpick in between. I wished I would have bought flat toothpicks, but I was really trying hard with this party to USE WHAT I ALREADY HAVE.
So...a cake decorator I am not. I never even make cakes. I think practically the only time I make cakes is for Tornado's birthdays. I talked about this here with his Fetch Ruff Ruffman 9th birthday party. The kid just prefers a cake over cupcakes. Pam (my friend who is an amazing cake decorator), if you happen to be reading this, scroll down quickly over the next few pictures.

For those of you not familiar with Highlights (what's wrong with you?!), the Timbertoes are the family of characters who have their own monthly feature.
I was going for the picture in the bottom left corner. This was my original plan, and I decided to nix it that day because of time constraints. Then literally 20 minutes before the party was to start, I started feeling badly about depriving my sweet, special son out of his birthday cake. I quickly spread frosting on the one layer cake I'd baked that morning, haphazardly printed off a little birthday message to stick in, and tried my best using a sandwich bag with a cut corner to pipe out a smiling Tommy Timbertoe.
I think he must be the most grateful birthday child in the entire world, and my efforts always pay off with him. He just loves having birthday parties. I'm going to say more than most.
T-R-O-U-B-L-E, eating their cupcakes

He got lots of great presents from his friends and family. He told me before the party he wanted to sit in a chair like Noah did (in the special birthday chair at JumpZone) and have everyone sit in front of him while he opened his presents. :)

opening his big basket of summer fun goodies from Aunt Michele

My little reader...he loves books so much. We all just had to kind of pause while he leisurely looked through his new book from the Davidsons.

My parents got him a 2-year subscription to Highlights. (Mom usually just buys him the issues each month; it's obviously cheaper with the subscription.) I thought it would be appropriate for the theme.

Wacky Races were featured in the June 2010 issue of Highlights. This was our last activity of the night. We tried to work out all of the remaining energy they had left.
Wacky Races involve silly ways of crossing the finish line: must keep your hand on your foot the entire race, must link arms with your partner, must keep your elbow on your knee, or bellybutton must face the sky, etc.
After we exhausted our ideas for different races, we let them come up with ideas of their own, which were pretty silly (but creative!).
The gift bags which I tied up with scraps of ribbon and string that I had. The bags come in a big pack in the party section at Target.
The bags were filled with 2 magazines, Highlights sticker pages, Puzzlemania (a product of Highlights) pencils, and various organic fruit snacks.

I had contacted Highlights awhile back and told them we were having a party and wondered if they had any resources or ideas. Linda, the assistant editor, so very kindly wrote me back, giving me several ideas to think about (such as Pin the Tail on Spot, ETC.). I was thrilled that she took the time to do this, and they even sent us 2 boxes full of these magazines, stickers, and pencils they had left over from an event. I had taken a picture of Tornado's face when he opened the boxes - wish you could have seen it, but I guess it got deleted.

They even sent Tornado his own copy of the latest issue. Inside, the whole staff wrote sweet birthday wishes specifically to him. That was really the cherry on top of his whole party.

Thank you so much, Highlights!


Annette W. said...

Seriously, you make me want to have a real birthday party...instead of just family. But I doubt that will happen any time soon!

Annette W. said...

PS. That is so cool that Highlights sent you some things to help. M loves High Five, too.

Ticia said...

What a cool idea!

Anonymous said...

Oh Jenny you are so amazing!! We could go into business. You plan the parties and I will make the cakes! I totally love your cake and obviously so did Tornado!! His sweet expression says it all. You did awesome copying the drawing. I am no good at that. All the food looked so wonderful and I can't believe all the creative things you came up with for such an awesome but tricky theme! Can you please invite me to the next birthday party you host?