Christine Koh

Hello!

I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

Outer Space Party

jack-space-party-1.jpgMy friend Nooshi is truly impressive when it comes to hosting parties (whether they’re for grownups or kids) and her birthday parties for her son always are amazing. If you’re feeling up for a challenge, or simply want to glean a few of the basic ideas, check out the below write up of her son’s recent Outer Space Party. It is -- not surprisingly -- out of this world.
“Even before last year’s Messy Party, my son Jack insisted that his next party be a Space Party complete with a Zooma-Machine (his word to describe a magically fast rocket ship). Jack wanted to invite “everyone in the entire world” but we settled on his classmates, plus a few other close school friends. I like to include siblings and both parents whenever possible, so this brought our guest list up to about 50 people. That meant we weren’t adding any of our own good friends, but we’ve gotten to know Jack’s friends and their families over the years, and it’s a pretty fun group of people. I had a few goals for the party:

1. I didn’t want a cookie-cutter birthday party.

2. Is there any way to reduce the effort and stress of the event?

3. Make sure the kids have fun by offering a variety of activities for a variety of interests.

4. Make sure the parents have fun by offering decent food & drink, and ensuring the kids are engaged in activities so the parents can relax.

I’d say we succeeded on all fronts, with the exception of #2. There’s no way I could have pulled this off without help from my incredibly energetic and inventive husband Andrew, and my fabulously creative and talented mother. Here were the basic elements:

Invitations: I ordered the Solar System invitations from Tiny Prints, and was thrilled with the quality. Everyone raved about the invitations, and I think it contributed to our nearly 100% attendance. A good invitation really makes you want to go to a party.

Venue: Once again, we relied on trusty Filippello Park in Watertown. This place is great – it’s very private and there is a playground surrounded by a shelter, which offers built in rain cover and safe places for children to run free. Permits can be obtained through the Town of Watertown Recreation Department. There is no electricity, which makes for some minor challenges, but overall, this place is perfect.

Decorations: Because it was a space party, my wonderfully talented mother made a giant rocket ship cut-out from silver rigid insulation, which she attached to the climber. It was a bold and impressive gesture, and allowed us to go easy on any additional decorations. We brought a portable stereo rigged up to an iPod to play lots of Space themed music. We used white cloth tablecloths (which really dressed up the picnic tables) topped with mirrored tiles, assorted Transformers, and silver stars. Inflatable planets and a giant round rice paper lantern hung from the shelter.

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Food & Drink: The party started at 10:30am, so we offered Starbucks coffee, water, orange juice, and champagne. We picked up some delicious quiche from local caterer Sensational Foods, and also offered mini bagels, fresh fruit, and yogurt in tubes.

I baked 3 desserts: A large sun cake, which essentially was a round 2-layer cake decorated with orange-yellow frosting and set on top of orange and yellow placemats that I cut to look like rays. Smaller earth cupcakes, which were chocolate cupcakes topped with white cream cheese frosting, and then these awesome “planet earth from space” cupcake toppers I found on Ebay. And "blue moon" cupcakes, which were no-bake blueberry cheesecake; the recipe was from Epicurious (I just made cupcakes instead of the large cake) and I topped with whipped cream and little American Flag toothpicks. The cheesecake was a great choice for a morning party.

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Activities:

  • Robot Helmets: We prepared plain white corrugated cardboard boxes with a variety of eyes (different shaped cut-outs) and let the kids decorate them to look like robots. We provided assorted robot parts, stickers, and markers and let the kids go wild. In reality, this activity is probably best suited for slightly older children. The 4-year-olds at the party just wanted to put on a plain helmet and run around, though one of the 7-year-old siblings really took off with the idea and made a great robot (pictured above). Cookie Magazine also offers ideas for additional robot fun.

  • Aliens: We provided cosmic head boppers, star-shaped sunglasses, cardboard wings, and star wands. Some of the older (and more crafty) kids really got into decorating the wings, while the younger kids just wanted to put them on immediately and run around. In any case, a huge hit with the kids. We purchased all of these items at Oriental Trading.

  • Transformers: We picked up a giant box of Transformers through our local FreeCycle a while ago, and these served as impressive table decorations as well as great toys for the kids to use on the playground. One mother commented on how nice it was to have other activities available because her son is not interested in crafts and often gets bored at parties too focused on those types of activities.

  • Baby Area: Knowing that many of my son’s friends have infant siblings, we set up a 10x10 pop-up tent in a grassy area, and placed a large sleeping bag (for padding) on the ground covered by a picnic blanket. We brought a few large stuffed animals and a play gym. It was the perfect place to let a little one crawl, discretely nurse, or just relax in the shade. We had a bubble machine blowing bubbles nearby.

  • Favors: In addition to taking home their robot and alien costumes, we gave each child a Star Trek pez dispenser, astronaut ice cream, space stickers, and a glow in the dark star & moon pinwheel.

    Overall the party was a big success. We came home, unloaded 3 carloads of stuff, and put away all of our things. About an hour later Jack walked into the dining room where my husband and I were sitting, crossed his arms and declared, ‘Okay, now let’s talk about FIVE!’”


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