Idea No.


Family Duck Party



November 2008


Andrea in Brighton, MA, USA


Miscellaneous Parties

With five kids we usually don't make elaborate plans for a one-year-old's birthday what does a baby need besides a play date and a cake to stick his or her hand in? But our son's birthday falls within days of both of his grandfathers' birthdays and in the same month as many other family celebrations. So for his first birthday, we invited the immediate family to visit us in Boston from Cleveland, Cape Cod, New York and New Jersey and threw a family November party. In a nod to the original birthday boy (and the city of Boston), we decided we would incorporate two of his favorite things, ducks and balls. A Duck Ball.  Invitations: We sent email to all the immediate relatives to keep it low-key, which was nice because the NY and NJ family couldn't come. Decorations: With honorees in their 70s, 60s, 30s, and babyhood, we had trouble coming up with a scheme. Since Halloween items were on discount, we started with orange plates and plasticware and matched the other items to it  dark green tablecloths, red and yellow cups, brightly colored birthday napkins. The party was being held in the cafeteria and gym of our daughters' elementary school because our house is cramped and we needed full wheelchair access. We set some long tables and hung fringed colored foil streamers. We placed a bunch of balls of different sizes and types in the gym. Signs pointing the way from the front door listed all the family names, said Walk This Way, and had arrows made out of colored feathers. For the centerpiece, we had a big yellow duck that played a couple different tunes when you squeezed it. Each setting had a place card taped upside down to the bottom of a little rubber ducky. People were supposed to find their place by guessing which duck was theirs. My parents' wedding anniversary is in November so my mother had a duck dressed like a bride. My father-in-law served as a Chaplain overseas and occasionally works on cruise ships so he had a sailor duck. My husband's sister and  brother-in-law are both scientists and had mad scientist" ducks. Two of my daughters are still fighting over the devil duck  they each were hoping for the dubious honor. Activities: My husband cut several CDs of old rock and roll. The big cousins took the little cousins to the gym to play ball and the adults talked and shared photos and danced. Near the end when we wanted the kids to wind down we took out paper animal stickers and colored pencils and had the kids make scenes. Costumes: The "ball" was a pun  we all dressed up and took a family photo and the honorees had rose corsages but instead of a formal dance the kids played with balls in the gym. Party snacks and cake: Dinner was partially catered with some family favorites. My sister-in-law made and passed around her special appetizers at the formal beginning of the evening; my kids made their favorite apple kugel as a side dish. The cake had all the names of the many November honorees surrounded by little candy ducks. Because Richie's favorite new food was ice cream we also had make-your-own sundaes. Favors: Everyone got to keep their duck. We had a fancy basket with little wedding bags filled with M&Ms for the way out.   The party wasn't too fussy. It paid honor to all the relatives in the way they wanted most which was to spend time with each other. Everyone had a ball. "

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