Laura Ingalls Wilder Birthday Party
“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”
My daughter wanted an old-fashioned Laura Ingalls birthday party this year. Actually, she has been brainstorming for such a party for years, since we first read the entire series when she was five to six. We had way more ideas than we used, but chose to keep things simple and mainly used what we had on hand to make for a memorable day.
We emailed invitations with a picture of my daughter in a bonnet and encouraged guests to wear their “prairie finest.” Some of our guests showed up in old-fashioned attire, most didn’t. We got each of the girls a bonnet and my mother-in-law lovingly made each of them an apron to wear.
We kept decor simple. We hung a borrowed quilt, put some fresh flowers in glass milk jugs, and set up another table (not pictured) with an a cross-stitched tablecloth my grandmother had made in the 40s. We had Pa’s Fiddle music playing in the background to set the mood.
Our main old-fashioned activities were making candles and making butter. We had tons of candle wax on hand from previous projects and we heated it up in a retired cooking pot and let it cool slightly. Outside, my husband set up a station for making dipped candles and gave the kids a brief demonstration. They each made a candle for the birthday cake, then made enormous dipped candles to take home as party favors.
We brought the kids inside and explained the old fashioned way of making butter and then the kids shook up heavy cream in 2 mason jars until they lost interest and one of the mason jars cracked. The parents took turns finishing the butter-making and everyone came inside for a snack of popcorn, cornbread, biscuits, homemade butter, apple butter, blueberry jam, and molasses (the menu my daughter came up with). We served lemonade to drink.
I had other activities planned to use if needed, but the kids were excited that the weather was unseasonably warm for a winter day and they just wanted to run around outside and play.
Seeing boys in overalls and girls in bonnets and aprons running through the yard was very sweet, though it did get us joking that it looked like a stereotypical homeschool gathering.
When we were no longer completely stuffed full of cornbread and biscuits, we called the kids in for cake. Presents were opened and then we sent everyone home with hand-sewn leather drawstring bags we had made from old scrap leather. The girls took their bonnets and aprons home, and the oversized dipped candles went too. We had considered giving each kid a penny, an orange, and a peppermint stick, in keeping with the Laura Ingalls theme, but we decided their other favors were enough.
It was one of the easiest parties we have thrown in a while and my daughter was thrilled.