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Pumpkin Party

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Every year as September wanes, our family gears up for one of our favorite holidays of the year: the twins’ birthday on October 4th. The twins are a . . . lively* addition to our family and we’re all pretty smitten with them.

While I was talking to some moms at the playground a few weeks ago, one mom turned to me and casually said, “So I heard the twins are having a Pumpkin Party on October 4th.” Oh, are they? Turns out they had invited their entire preschool class, neighbors kids, Sunday School classmates and cashiers at the supermarket to a Pumpkin Party on October 4th. A Pumpkin Party that I hadn’t planned.

Now I could have just left town on October 4th, but I thought, why not? Why not have a Pumpkin Party on October 4th. (My friend Liz actually sealed the deal. When the twins invited her to their Pumpkin Party on October 4th, she bent down to their level and asked sweetly, “Can I make you a pumpkin cake for your Pumpkin Party? I just love to bake cakes!” As I was mouthing, “Are you kidding?! Now they’re going to think that this is how the universe works: just call up a pumpkin party and poof! you get a pumpkin cake!!!” I had to hand it to them. They were planning a pretty sweet party already, one I think I wanted to attend. And they might be great community organizers someday. And lots of fun in college.)

So we planned a Pumpkin Party on October 4th to celebrate the twins’ 5th birthday. With the pumpkin cake already taken care of, the rest was really easy. Here’s the run-down:

1. Venue. I picked a great park in our town for the party. This is a beautiful time of year in Illinois and the weather is usually sunny and decently warm. We pulled two picnic table together and made a home base a little bit away from the playground. Because I always stress about the weather for an outdoor party, I wrote in the invitations, “Rain cancels.” Now: no stress. Thankfully the weather was beyond-beautiful. Golden sunshine and a constant shower of yellow elm leaves.

2. Invitations. I printed up a simple invitation on cardstock from home. With room at the top, the twins were able to personalized them with hand-drawn pumpkins. Then we passed them out to EVERYBODY.

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3. Decorations. I laid down a long length of kraft paper to cover the table, and placed new crayons in some tins (that was all for the kids). Then I put down a pretty runner down the center piled high with branches and pumpkins (that was all for me).

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4. Activies. Preschoolers are so easy and are really forgiving when it comes to planning activites. I’ve found that simpler is better and most young children really just want to color and work on a project and be with their friends.

+ Plant Lollipop Seeds. My friend Jayne taught me this one. At the beginning of the party I handed out lollipop seeds to each kid and we went on a short hike to plant the pollipop seeds behind some trees. Nothing happened. But when we checked back later, lots of lollipops had sprouted. The little ones thought this was just magical. The older kids said things like, “you just put these in the ground when no one was looking.”

+ Decorate Cookies. With a package of generic oatmeal cookies and a tub of frosting, the kids kept busy for a while decorating their own pumpkin cookies. I had tinted the frosting with orange food coloring and passed a plastic knife to each child. Foil muffin liners on the table were filled with cookie decorations: chocolate chips, candy corns and M&Ms.

5. Snacks. Besides Liz’s incomparable pumpkin cupcakes, I put out baskets of pretzels and cheese popcorn. I also had juice boxes for the kids and a cooler of pop for the adults. My mom had suggested hard cider for the adults which I think was divine inspiration, but I decided to keep the party non-alcoholic.

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6. Goody Bags. A wise friend of mine once decided that all goody bags should be filled with consumable treats. I think many of us have stepped on a plastic piñata “treat” in the middle of the night and thought the same thing. So our goody bags were filled with candy and cookies and a mini pumpkin from the centerpiece. I also added little cellophane bags of cheese popcorn secured with a green stem of floral tape (so they looked like pumpkins). I piled everything into brown paper bags and sealed them with a handmade pumpkin sticker.

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Now I can’t lie to you: as Perky Party Mom as I made this out to be, I have about the worst attitude when it comes to entertaining. I’m really stressed out by the whole idea and up until the first guest actually arrives, I’m usually more of a Grumbling-than-Gracious Hostess. But this party turned out so nicely that I think I could do another (maybe even next year!). The twins had the revolutionary idea of throwing a party because would be fun. What a concept. And they rocked it. Their Pumpkin Party was just the rockin’ party that they knew it would be.

(*Actually they’re practical wild. This morning when I told one twin to put on a sweater because “it’s chilly outside,” she turned to her brother and said, “It’s chili outside” and busted a gut with a belly laugh. They repeated, “it’s chili outside” to each other and laughed about it for the next twenty minutes. They’re like monkeys at the zoo.)