When I asked my daughter what kind of birthday party she wanted, she first suggested something to do with animals. No sooner had I mentally planned out some kind of menagerie themed soiree in my head, did she switch to ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW PARTY (yes, she sometimes speaks in all caps).
Well! No problem! Not only is there a wealth of online inspiration for a rainbow party, but I also figured decorating would be easy peasy. And for once in my life I was right. (Yay!)
I knew right away I wanted to try to make a rainbow cake. Not one with all the layers — that looked way too hard for me, I regularly screw up box mixes on birthdays — but this rainbow cake I’d pinned on Pinterest. It didn’t look much harder than baking a regular cake, so my chances of messing up were at least regular.
The site that pin links to has some hilarious comments. The woman who made the tutorial is a single woman, on a diet, and she doesn’t have kids. So she made a diet cake, and lots of people think that’s the way the cake has to be made for it to work. It doesn’t. I just made the white cake mix as directed (with the water, oil, and eggs) and it turned out beautifully!
(Don’t you love my toddler and his cousin gazing hungrily at it in the background? I had to hide it on top of the freezer out in the garage, or it wouldn’t have survived until party time.)
I either forget about the cake in the oven (Did you know that box mix cakes don’t really burn, they just shrink and shrink into hockey pucks? True story, verified zillions of times over here.), or when I go to pry it out of the pans, it falls to pieces. So I greased the HECK out of the two round pans and then floured them, like I knew what I was doing or something. I babysat the oven timer and didn’t wander off to go get distracted anywhere. When they came out I let them cool forever in their pans. I worried about the cakes sweating, but they came out easier. I let ‘em cool for a long time on a wire rack, and then had more anxiety moving them to the cake stand, but it all worked. It’s a birthday miracle, y’all.
I used gel food dye I found at Michael’s in the clearance section. I think you could get away with regular dye, but it would turn out more pastel — probably good for a fairy or princess party. My frosting was purchased and slathered on straight out of a little can / tub thing. No way was I going to try to make my own. That’s just another chance for disaster to strike.
The rainbow sprinkles were oversized Wilton rainbow sprinkles — oh look, Amazon has them for less than I paid. They were about $6 at Michael’s.
The decorations were just as easy as I’d anticipated. I found a 2″ circle punch also on clearance + an additional 40% off (score!) at Michael’s. I’ve always wanted one anyway, and the kids had fun helping me cut circles out of cardstock we already had. We used the half sheets so we could get 6 circles out of each one with minimal waste. I ran the circles through my sewing machine with a long straight stitch and strung our circle garland up with scotch tape.
My daughter wanted an actual rainbow somewhere, so I strung rainbow-colored crepe paper from the top of the game cupboard to the ceiling fan. And there were a couple poster board clouds with more crepe paper hanging down.
Helium balloons are harder to decorate with — at least for me. Everyone wants to bother them and they end up floating on the high ceiling where no one can reach. I just buy loose balloons, blow them up with plain old lung power, and hang them upside down from the light in the great room and the kitchen table light. Easy and cheap.
I spread a white table cloth over our kitchen table map and ran a length of colorful wrapping paper over it, taping the ends to the underside of the table. Then we spread our clear vinyl table cloth back on top. Perfect! I served pizza and fruit punch. I love the spiral straws and carried some around a party store, but in the end decided it wasn’t a necessary expense. They sure are cute though. I had some rainbow plastic bendy straws in our scout stuff and used those instead.
My husband had a piece of OSB wood in the shop and used his drill attachment that cuts circles to snap some cloud-shaped holes out for me. We sanded it down (OSB is not real easy to sand, but it was ‘free’ so I’m not complaining) and I painted it with some acrylic paint. I borrowed some rainbow colored bean bags from my friend Tracy and it was a much bigger hit than I anticipated.
I sent the bean bags home with my friend when she came to pick up her daughter and my kids have not stopped asking where they are. It’s ridiculous that I don’t have any, I’ll have to whip some up after Thanksgiving.
I picked up a package of pre-cut crowns at Michael’s and set out colorful markers and stickers; everyone decorated their own and wore them throughout the party:
(How cute is K’s friend A with her chapped lower lip? Doesn’t every kid go through that ‘can’t-stop-licking’ phase? I know all mine have.)
My oldest loved orchestrating and directing the party festivities. Completely uncoached, he just takes over and tells everyone what to do. He can sound a little bossy sometimes, but he’s so darn genuine, just loving being a part of things and wanting to help, it seems that most kids will automatically look to him for leadership. He led the bean bag toss, directed the gift opening (making sure his sister said her thank-yous), and read all the clues for the gold-hunt.
I always do this, but it’s so much fun, and easy to create – I make up 10 – 12 silly rhyming clues sending all the children on a hunt through the house, ending with the discovery of their goodie bags. K’s clue hunt started with:
You are going on a journey today to find the pot of gold
of which the likes of leprechauns and fairies have foretold.
Some say it isn’t true, that the gold does not exist
But a treasure you shall find if only you persist.
Listen closely and you will hear the way you first shall go
All over the house, clues are hidden high and low
Go the room where our birthday girl lays her head
You’ll need to look all around her tinesy little bed.
Which led them to the little doll bed in her room, tricky you see, since they searched her own bed first. My favorite clue cracked me up:
When you sit here and find yourself without any paper for your bum
Maybe you yell and yell for your mom to bring you some.
They were confused a bit, and searched the storage room for a clue stuck to toilet paper, but no, it was lurking taped to the side of one of our actual toilets. Hilarious. But look, I restrained myself. This one, for example:
Excellent, that one was easy, no?
Would you like to hear where next you are to go?
Right then, this one might have you shivering, my troop,
Bundle up and go inspect the gate into the chicken coop.
I wanted to end it with:
Bundle up and trod delicately through the chicken poop.
I do have some restraint, yeah?
Ahem. Here they are, running madly for a clue hidden by the swing set:
Success! The treat bags (with gold candy coins of course) were hidden in our Halloween cauldron in the hall closet.
The goodie bags are just simple clear bags tied with rainbow curling ribbon. They contained a glow in the dark bracelet (actually left over from big brother’s astronaut party), a rainbow pencil, gold candy coins, skittles, and a little wee bubble blower.
My mom and sister were able to come up for the party, and though the visit was short, we’re always happy to have family come and stay out here in the middle of nowhere. We’re not buried in snow yet, so traveling is a bit easier — though I admit I prayed for a nice big storm to snow them in so they’d have to stay longer. (They’re playing Spot It, a game Grandma brought — she always comes with something fun hiding in her bags.)
My darling girl (with her annual split lip – darn the dry winter air) actually turns 6 next week, so we’ll have to have another couple of cupcakes after Thanksgiving dinner. Wasn’t this only yesterday?