Deere John,

I’m in a bit of a quandary. (I’ve always wanted to say that, but really, I am). I have been thinking about Ian’s birthday for 7 months now, trying to decide if I should throw him a party for his 4th year in the world. I himmed and hawed wondering if I should wait another year.

A friend of mine threw a party for her then 4-year-old (she’s also in Ian’s preschool class) back in September, and well, you could say I’ve developed a case of stage fright about it. This friend is an amazing party planner and I wish I had half the mad skills she does to pull these things off and make it look effortless. (She recently hosted a grown-up tea party for 8 close friends, it was brilliant and jaw-dropping. Maybe I’ll post pics of it soon.)

I finally talked myself into it two weeks ago. I was doing it. I didn’t know what, but I was doing it anyway.

I’m not the head planner type. I can’t just come up with this stuff in my brain, it doesn’t happen like that for me — ever. I’m a detail-oriented person, give me a section of it and I’ll go to town and do really great with it – give me more than four options for something and I shrivel up and die. (It took me 2.5 months to pick a final photo for our family portrait.)

I’m actually doing really well with it. We have a theme: Tractors, John Deere to be precise. (And no, the fascination with said tractors materialised looooong before we ever stepped foot in Montana, but I’ll forgive you for perhaps thinking otherwise…!

So, here’s the breakdown:

1. Friends are to wear something green, yellow or brown.
2. Food: Homemade sausage rolls, chocolate crispy cakes* (made with Milkyway bars) and Sun Chips.
3. A dirt track cake with self-bought JD tractors and pickup trucks on them.
4. Favour bag: Bubbles, a punch balloon, Green homemade Kool-Aid Playdough, mini dairy milk bars, Reece’s peanut butter cups, rolos and kisses and Lego fruit snacks.

Games: Blaaaaaaaaaah.


I’ve went completely blank and I can’t believe it. We never gave out little party bags in Scotland when I was growing up, so the fact that I go that far is a bloody miracle! Plus, I hate the cheap weird stuff some people give out and wanted to do something a little decent.

Rather than search the ‘Net looking for stuff, I thought I’d put it out there to my friends. Any ideas?

I thought about a British game called Pass the Parcel, but I’m not sure if the kids are too young for it or not. Maybe I’m underestimating them. You wrap a small gift in a box with about 6 layers of paper (have the children all sit in a circle) and play music, stopping randomly. Each time the music stops, the child holding the gift takes off a layer of paper and then the music starts again. The one left holding the naked box gets what’s inside.

Yeah, so that’s about it. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Oh yeah, and his birthday is this Thursday.

– – – – – –

* Chocolate Krispie cakes are similar to the marshmallow ones you make here, kinda. You melt down chocolate, add a little butter and add a ton of Rice Krispies. Spoon some of the mixture into little (cupcake) cases and top with a marshmallow and pop it in the fridge to cool. I’m using Milkyway bars in mine instead.

Sausage rolls are kinda like Pigs in a Blanket, but better…IMHO…


12 responses to “Deere John,

  1. “Pin the Tail On The Donkey”. Any card shop or party store ought to have it. But, you know what? they’re KIDS. Just turn ’em loose and let them play.

  2. anglophilefootballfanatic

    Funny that I just gave these suggestions out to another blogger last week: have the kids make ice cream sundaes…get sprinkles, all the toppings, marshmallows, m&ms..the whole nine yards and let them concoct to their hearts content. Little kids LOVE to play chemist. And, maybe order a John Deere pinata from Oriental Trading?

  3. i love your party plans! lots of traditional children’s party games could be slightly modified to reflect the tractor theme. like, pin the wheel (or other missing part) on the tractor, or tractor-pull-tug-of-war. have fun!

  4. Send me your sausage roll recipe and I’ll be your best friend. Are the chocolate crispie cakes like the mars bar ones from back home? I stinkin love those things!

    You could hide a bunch of farm animals and have the kids find them… they’re 4 years old, right? :-S

  5. duck duck goose! i used to love that game!

  6. To be honest, it seems that kids this age don’t really want to play games at a birthday party anyway. They just want to run around and yell a lot. And maybe eat cake. So I really wouldn’t sweat the games too much.
    Joey just went to a birthday party a little while ago and the mom was telling me they didn’t play any of the games she had planned. The boys just wanted to play with the trucks and the kareoke machine. ??
    I think your party sounds fabulous!

  7. I don’t think pass the parcel would be too difficult for 4-year olds to comprehend, particularly if there’s a present at the end. What about musical chairs? That usually entails lots of pushing and shoving, and fighting over chairs.

  8. We have homemade sausage rolls at our kids’ birthday parties and they always go down well!

    At this age, I’ve always found the best activity is a craft — for my oldest son’s 4th birthday we did a racing car theme and got wooden crafts from Michael’s for the kiddos to put together and paint (with parents of course because at this age they’re not just dropped off on you yet!).

  9. I think gift bags in the US are a fairly new thing for kid’s parties. Growing up neither me nor my friends got gift bags at the end of a birthday party. Now that my friends are having kids and kid parties the gift bag is something they all say you have to have if you’re holding a kid party. ???

  10. Oh my, I’m so behind on my blogger. First of all, love the pic you are using. Second, what a neat little theme 🙂 I honestly wouldn’t have any good ideas since I don’t have children and what I think they might want to do possibly would be a little difficult. Let us know how it goes with all the pics too of course!!

  11. I think they call pass the parcel ‘hot potato’ over here? Musical bumps? Sleeping lions? Musical statues……you could always do a treasure chest (lucky dip) instead of party bags????
    You must take a pic of the cake!
    ps you are looknig younger on each header photo my dear!!!

  12. De-lurking…

    This is funny. When I was on my first (& last?) cycling trip in Switzerland last year, I kept seeing Mars bars at kiosks and in the vending machines. I said to myself, “I’d rather have a Milk Way bar, as that’s one of my favorites. Don’t care for the almonds in a Mars bar.” Well, the joke was on me, indeed. Only by the good grace of my one of my well-experienced European traveling friends was it revealed to me that the Mars bar was what I wanted all along… (Don’t know if they sell the US version of Mars bar any longer.)

    I think Pass the Parcel would be a fine game for 4yr olds. I agree with the comment about the party bags. We never had anything like that in the US when I was a attending parties like this, um, 30-35 yrs ago.

    Good luck. Some great planning you’ve done will go a long way. The kids will flow with it, you’ve only got to worry with the parents!

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