I wanted to post this last night, but Blogger was down.
For Alex's last two birthdays, the parties were for our family and friends. This year, we decided he was ready for a kid's party. We'd been to one last year that was held at a kid's gym, so I found one in our area and booked a party. They took care of most of the arrangements: sending out invitations; ordering the pizza; and supplying the cups, plates, and other necessary items. The only things I had to do were assemble the guest list and goodie bags, order the cake, and bring in snacks and extra food for the adults. Some of the guests weren't able to make it, but we had eight other children besides Alex. Most of them were from his daycare/playgroup; some of them were kids of our friends.
Alex can be a bit clingy in new situations, so I was worried he might take some time to warm up at his party. Even though he didn't nap very well, he did better than I thought he would. (It might have helped that I told him about his party in advance and that he saw the cake and goodie bags.) He was a bit hesitant when we first arrived, but once we brought him into the gym, he took off, running, laughing, and having a good time. Most of the other kids did the same.
The kids got to play in the gym for an hour. It was set up for gymnastics with kid-size equipment: balance beams, uneven bars, and plenty of mats. Alex particularly enjoyed crawling through a donut-shaped mat:
Later on, the coaches plugged the donut and placed it between two wedges. The kids got to ride on top of the donut and, with the help of the coach, tumble over and land on their backs. Alex and a couple of the kids liked it so much they did it several times.
In addition, the coaches blew bubbles, brought out balls, and played with a parachute. Alex found a foam sword and chased his "girlfriend" around with it. Toward the end of the hour, they brought out an AirTrack, an inflatable bouncy thing that the kids (and some of the mothers, including me) could jump on. Alex's girlfriend got her revenge by wrestling Alex and pinning him down!
After the play hour was over, the kids sat down at a square table for pizza, juice boxes, and cake. This was the first year we lit candles for Alex's cake (I didn't feel it was safe before). He tried blowing them out, but I wound up helping him. He was more interested in the plastic cars decorating the cake than the cake itself; he took a couple bites of frosting, then played with the cars. We gave out goodie bags and balloons (supplied by the gym), then took Alex and all of his presents home. I think the kids all had a great time; perhaps we'll hold his party here next year too.