Given that I'm an aunt of six now, I'm attending lots more kids' birthday parties. And from what I can tell based on old family photos, shindigs sure aren't what they used to be. Back when I was a tyke, the cake was the main event, and in our household, it was always homemade. Everything else—the decor, the goody bags—was secondary, if at all. Today, entire books, blogs, and businesses are devoted to the topic, and the rat race can make parents feel extra pressure. But rather than spend big, there are ways you can make any event feel special using basic supplies and a clever perspective. Take this barnyard bash, dreamed up by my inventive (and incredibly organized) sis-in-law, Molly, for her two-year-old twins.
Using a friend's family farm, Molly incorporated props already in their barn plus ones from the kids' playroom. She served bbq from a local restaurant, but renamed the dishes to fit the theme. Forks became "pitchforks" and spoons became "shovels." She handed out scarfs to the guests and gifted barnyard books. And sure, the twins are too young to notice all of their mom's hard work. But one day, they'll look back at the photos the way I look at ones of my homemade Halloween costumes and birthday cakes, and they'll feel blessed to have a Mom who made them feel on top of the world.