August 26, 2014
It seems from the moment he was born, my son loved all things that move: cars, trains, trucks, airplanes and so on. We had to find variations on this theme until Star Wars finally broadened his interests! I was happy to get away from wheels and branch out into the sky for his fourth birthday, a jet party.
December doesn’t lend itself to sure weather, but here in Southern California, we can hope for some time outdoors. We set the party up inside and planned on migrating the pack of 3-6 year olds to the park down the street for the more active portion.
As usual, I skimped on the invites. However, you can find all sorts of fun examples online. People use departure listings, flight checks, cockpits, boarding passes and banners pulled by planes to invite their friends. Once you start thinking about airports, you won’t run out of ideas.
The airport theme could also work really well for decorations. Because my son was young and had never been on a plane, he didn’t understand those ideas. He wanted to see fast jets. So, I set out to find as many as I could, ordering a massive amount of the cardboard planes you see all the time in prize boxes from Oriental Trading Company. These along with cotton batting came together in one of my favorite decorations ever. I tied handfuls of cotton with string to look like a cloud. Then I tied string onto the airplanes at different angles to dive or spin or cruise. All of these pieces tied onto a long horizontal string.
On the table, I folded a black table-cloth into thirds and taped it onto the center of a green cloth to look like a runway. I used masking tape to create the lines and writing on the black, then lined the “runway” with different types of planes for each kid to play with and take home.
Four year olds don’t get puns, so the food stayed very simple. If you wanted to carry the airport theme through, there are plenty of creative ways to invoke planes. At the very least, you could have bags of peanuts or pretzels!
The cake (pictured above) repeated the runway idea because it would best showcase the jets my son so desperately wanted to see. We had fun using different candies to recreate an airport tarmac. Then we used toothpicks and skewers to prop up the planes to look like they were taking off and landing. He LOVED this effect. Fair warning: small metal jets can be very difficult to find, especially on a budget. I lucked out and found a set in the Christmas toy collections.
To avoid fighting over pieces of the cake that had planes or more candy or whatever else the kids wanted, there was a toy pull jet propped up with a toothpick on individual cupcakes.
Each guest received several different kinds of jet. As someone who doesn’t really like doing party games in general, I definitely wasn’t going to attempt it with a crew of 3-6 year old boys! So, we took them all to the park with their new planes in hand and everyone had a fabulous time testing each one out.
For older kids, you could also have paper airplane folding or some sort of game directing “planes” with flashlights and signals like an aircraft director on an aircraft carrier.
The bottom line is that any kid who loves jets will love being surrounded by them. This party can stay relatively simple and still be a big crowd pleaser!
Don’t forget to check out Birthday Basics: Don’t Break the Bank … or Your Brain, for some general party planning tips.