Charis and Arden's birthday fell on a Saturday this year--October 18. They decided they wanted to do a joint party again (whew!), and we planned to re-visit our theme from 2 years ago, a "Fall Family Fun" party. It had been such a hit before that we all agreed it would be the most fun and least stressful option. Before we made up the invitations, we talked with Arden and Charis about what they would think about asking guests to donate loose change to our "Rice Bag" project, a special fundraising project we are doing through Sonlight to benefit Mission India, which promotes literacy among women in India. We wanted to do this instead of birthday gifts, for a variety of reasons. When we explained some of those reasons...i.e. we already have SO much "stuff," plus the fact that we knew the kids would get presents from family, both Charis and Arden agreed that being able to get more change for our rice bags was a great idea. Their response really touched my heart--yes, it was my idea, but I was thrilled with their attitudes toward the whole thing!
So, this is what was on the birthday invitations that Charis helped me stamp:
"This is a FALL FAMILY FUN party!! We will have a pumpkin-carving contest...we will provide a pumpkin for each family (so please RSVP by October 15!). Please bring whatever you like to decorate your jack-o-lantern!
Also...in lieu of presents, we would like to invite you to donate loose change to our “Rice Bag Project” (see http://www.missionindia.org/sonlight for more info). Even during these difficult economic times, we are aware of how blessed we are to live in the USA and have our basic needs provided for. We are trying to teach our children to be thankful for what they have (which is a LOT!) and to pray for and give to those who are in need.
Thank you! We look forward to a fun time with friends as we celebrate our children’s birthday!"
Let me tell you...our kids did NOT miss the extra presents one bit!! We had a blast at the party, as the pictures below will show! I let Charis and Arden pick what kind of cake they wanted. Arden chose carrot cake, and Charis wanted zucchini bars. I was glad to make both, as we were expecting quite a crowd; NINE of the eleven families we invited ended up being able to come!
We tried to keep things simple. For instance, the last time we did this party we did pumpkin carving AND made caramel apples. But there were only 4 families there that year, so it worked out well. This time we just did the contest, which took most of the time. The dads in the crowd really had a blast getting into the spirit of the competition! Towards the end of the carving we stopped for singing the Happy Birthday song and eating cake and/or zucchini bars with French vanilla ice cream. (The yummy banana punch that Ted had made was GONE by the time we got to this part...oops!) Then we all voted on our favorite pumpkins and awarded the T and the J families their prizes. I bought fall-scented candles in glass jars and put some Stampin' Up! rub-ons on the sides of the jars. I figured the kids would get to enjoy their jack-o-lanterns, so the parents could enjoy the candles. :-) The two winning entries are shown below--the "girl" pumpkin and the "pirate" pumpkin.