A race or series of races between boats (such as sailboats).
A fabulously fun way to spend a summer afternoon with friends, doing crafts, playing games, and of course, racing toy sailboats in the backyard.
I love small birthday parties with close family friends, especially for young children. For James' 5th birthday, we invited a couple of best friends from preschool and their siblings. Having a party with only six children really helps keep the cost down, but still feels wonderfully festive.
And when you only invite a few children, you can splurge on nicer favors, like these classic striped beach towels that I found for $5.88 each at Walmart.
Tied with a bit of rope, they were the perfect take-home gift that will actually be used and appreciated. Down with junky plastic favors!
We started by decorating our toy sailboats. I set out a selection of colorful sharpies, since I didn't want the kids to have to wait for their boats to dry before racing them.
The sharpies were the perfect solution, and the plastic nautical flag placemats from Ikea (which were incredibly affordable) protected the tablecloth from any stray strikes with the marker.
The kids loved decorating and naming their boats! Meet the S.S. Rock Rock and the S.S. Stompy.
It was time for the races! Two 8' lengths (a standard length from Lowes) of rain gutter, capped at each end, and filled with water formed our race course.
Often, when the Cub Scouts do a Rain Gutter Regatta, they have the boys blow on the sails through straws. It was awfully hot, and I didn't want any of my little guests passing out, so I opted for some paper fans. They also came in handy to help keep us cool in the summer sun, too.
Turns out the boat models I got from Michaels, though adorable and only $1 each, were not all that good at actually sailing. Oops. But the kids still had a blast sailing their ships down the course, even with tippy boats. Next time I'd make my own boat design and use balsa wood.
Next on the agenda: lunch.
I love doing boxed lunches for parties. It's all done ahead of time, it's fast and easy, and the kids feel like they're getting top open up a present if you wrap up the box with a bow. And if they feel like the lunch is a special gift, they tend to eat a lot more of it!
Our provisions included homemade goldfish crackers, life preserver turkey and cheese sandwiches, and clementines (for prevention of scurvy, of course). Yeah, I amuse myself.
For drinks, just ice water. Need to keep well hydrated on those hot summer days! I used my favorite glass beverage dispenser and tied rope around it in the style of classic Japanese fishing floats (you know, those gorgeous round glass balls tied up with rope you see in nautical decor).
I mentioned how I love sneaking in a little learning in the middle of having fun at my parties, and this one was no exception. I made semaphore flags for each kid, and had a print out of the semaphore alphabet for everyone.
We all had fun waving flags and attempting to communicate across the yard.
We even spelled out JAMES (our birthday boy!)
I should have thought of this earlier, but we should have learned the flag signals for R (for red light) and G (for green light) and played Red Light Green Light! That's always a fun game for all ages, and would have really reinforced learning about the flags. Oh well--there's always next time!
After lunch and games, it was definitely time to cool off in the pool. Nothing better than a summer pool party!
Happy birthday, James!!