Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Coryn's Halloween Party: a busy day in the life of us



Last Thursday was a crazy day for us. It was the day of our second annual Costume Ball, aka Halloween party. I love doing these parties. Last year I put one together for the first time and learned three important things:
1. I really don't like relying on people to bring food in a potluck situation
2. Little kids make a huge mess at parties (something I knew already from working at a pizza parlor after high school, but had somehow let slip my mind).
and
3. I hate making pinatas . . .
So this year my plan involved
A. Telling people bringing food was not required but not guaranteeing them a meal.
B. Using my husband to spot check the mess afterwards because he has a more critical eye than me, especially "tired, I just supervised a party with 15 children under 5 in attendance" me and help me clean up.
and
C. Buying a pinata from Oriental Trading Company.

The funny thing is when you require people to bring food a lot of them try to get out of it or are unwilling to let you know what they are bringing, etc, but if you just provide a party a lot will ask if they can bring something, and since they volunteered pretty much all of them come through. . .Last year I made a whole bunch of food last minute because only two or three people had actually told me what they were bringing (over half still brought something, but most settled on cookies and with a candy loaded Halloween party that wasn't quite what I wanted), and I was worried we wouldn't have enough. This year I just brought drinks and a veggie tray but people brought enough stuff to make a full meal. That took care of A.

B went as planned as well, but to discuss C and remain chronological I really need to skip over B for now, and maybe altogether. Do you really want to hear about sweeping up?

I had made most of the decorations last year as well, bought some on base, and bought some out in town at Daiso stores. Daiso stores (also called 100 yen stores, everything is 100 yen plus tax) are sort of the Japanese equivalent to dollar stores, though with the exchange rate they are really about $1.40 stores. Halloween is not a Japanese holiday, but Japanese people really like holidays of any sort for any reason, and while they don't trick or treat they always have a small selection of Halloween specific decorations and some costume items (Also if they know someone on base they come here to trick or treat. . .sometimes not bothering to wear costume, sometimes giving candy as well as taking it; like I said they don't really understand the whole concept). This year, a little over three weeks before my party, I ordered a pinata, some streamers, some orange plastic table clothes, and some paper pumpkins . . .along with some creepy crawly treats/prizes and considered my work done for the most part. No hand crafting dripping, flour coated paper machete pinatas. No searching the Daisos attempting to get enough decorations to decorate a community room. No paying for the overpriced Hallmark stuff that seems to be all our base is willing to stock as far as party/holiday decorations are concerned. All I had to do was wait for my package, the delivery estimate for which was the 10th, 10 days before my party.

Well, that didn't quite work out. I started to get nervous with the 10th came and went, and that weekend I ended up begging Matt to take me to the Daisos because I was worried we wouldn't have any decorations at all. Calmer than me, Matt told me he'd take me the day before the party if they still hadn't arrived by then. They hadn't, and we did go to the Daiso and picked up some garland and a jack o'lantern candy bucket that made a decent center piece and a banner. . .I also made some decorations at home, cutting out bats out of black felt and spiders out of construction paper. . .oh and I had some purple decorative lights that I brought out and a bunch of small candles I worked into a center piece somehow. I was still concerned it wouldn't be enough, and I was also really bothered that I never got my pinata.

My last minute fix was this paper bag pinata, though mine didn't even look this good. . .but it didn't take four days to make and destroy my kitchen in the process. The one I made last year ended up being too strong and I had to kill it myself for the kids to get the candy out. . .I ended up having to do that this year too, but at least they got to hit something for awhile.

Oh, and of course the candy that came out of it was important too. I also put in about three packs party poppers (six per pack), I'm not sure if they have a more technical name or if they are widely available in the states. They're cone shaped paper fire crackers where you pull a string and they make a loud popping nose and spray a small amount of streamer-confetti out in front of them. Coryn has gotten these at birthday parties as favors and she loves them. Normally, though, she only gets one per party, and when the pinata finally went down she zeroed in on the poppers. Like I said, I'd bought 18 and I'd say there were maybe 15 kids there, so she should've been lucky to get two or three. She ended up with six in her bag. She completely by passed the candy and grabbed every popper she could get her hands on, and then she blissfully went and pulled their strings, one at a time. The other kids were also going through their poppers, but no one else had Coryn's impressive collection. . . and I'm serious about the impressive. Her focus in getting exactly what she wanted blew me away just a little bit.

Of course costumes were important. There were a lot of toy story themed costumes this year and vampires and ballerinas, etc. Coryn was Lady Bug Girl, a super hero/ballerina/bug combination that I picked out of one of her favorite story books (mentioned in an early blog post). I bought the majority of the costume from a tutu crafter on Etsy who was selling a lady bug spotted tutu, some ladybug "wings," and a red head band. The rest was just a red shirt and black leggings (I wanted some ladybug rain boots, but I couldn't find any for a reasonable price and so she wore her black ballet flats). It was simple, but I was proud of it. . .and really annoyed with the base finally got their Halloween costumes in and there was something very similar available here. They only sell three or four costumes in each size, so there are a ton of repeats from people who try to buy "locally." I really wanted her to be unique. Still, it was a cute costume.

I ended up buying a pirate costume online. There are only so many maternity costumes and this one was pretty cute.

The day of the party was also a MoPs day. I've been involved with Mothers of Preschoolers for awhile and this year I have a planning position as the "Creative Activities Team-leader" (I want team-leader to be one word so that the initials spell CAT, but that's just me. . .). This meeting involved an Este Lauder rep giving a make up demonstration and I was one of her guinea pigs. . .because of this I had full "evening gown" make up from about 10am on. . .I was going to wash it off, but decided it might go well with my costume, sort of a female Jack Sparrow look. Coryn is fascinated by make up so when I picked her up from the volunteers who watch the kids during the meetings she stared at my face in awe, touched my face, tried to smell my face, and told me over and over again how pretty I was (the next day she also wanted to know why I hadn't put on my "pretty eyebrows.") . . .so Coryn loved it. I liked it at first, but as the day went on and I had to run more and more errands all "dolled up" I began to feel a little self-conscious. I wanted somebody to comment so I could explain the whole face thing . . . I considered putting on my costume early . . .or maybe a ballgown. Also, after a day of errands and decorating the room, I felt more like Michael Bolton as Jack Sparrow than the sexy female Jack Sparrow I'd hoped to be. . .and I'm sorry for referencing an online video with as much swearing as the Jack Sparrow/Michael Bolton video, Mom, if you are reading this, don't google it. It's hilarious but awful. I did get a lot of compliments, but I was also one of two adults who actually dressed up.

So what else. . .oh games!

Other than the pinata (as pathetic as that was), we had a few games. Coryn and I painted a poster board jack o lantern and the kids played pin the nose on the pumpkin. I filled my largest pot with beans mixed with candy (I'd meant to also include plastic insects and worms to make it creepy, but as said before, my box never got to me. . .still hasn't a week after my party) for kids to sort through and find prizes, and I slipped candy into balloons which I then allowed kids to pop to get the "prize" inside. The balloon popping game drives some parents crazy, but the kids all love it. Other than that they ran around like crazy.

Coryn slept in until 10am the next morning, which Matt and I really appreciated. I'm already thinking of a Christmas party. I might just be crazy.

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