Last weekend was Frida’s third birthday! You know what I’m going to say: I can’t believe she’s been in our lives for three years already! But my wonderful yoga teacher Wini Linguvic put it into perspective during possibly the only moment of calm amidst the frenzied party activities: “What a year it has been!” And she went on to detail the many milestones that had occurred: babies Georgie and James were not even in the picture yet. Baby Lexi’s adoption was finalized! Several jobs were lost and acquired. Wini had opened her own private yoga studio that her wife Kim built herself. Their daughter Morgan with her gorgeous blue eyes was talking up a storm in full sentences. Frida is now the big kid at daycare who “helps” Marta, her caretaker. And she is ALMOST potty trained (argh).
All of that is worthy of a proper pony party, right?? We had been to a couple other pony-riding parties at Lemos Farm in Half Moon Bay, and Frida had so much fun that we wanted her to have her own. So we made it happen, and she had a blast—we did, too, after working out a few glitches.
Here’s what we learned:
1. Make sure you can enter the party area a good hour before the party starts. We planned to get there 30 minutes early (plenty of time to set up for a party, right??) got stuck in traffic, and ended up at the site with about 20 minutes to spare before guests would arrive. And 10 of those minutes was spent signing in! I don’t have to tell you its super stressful when you’re laying out tablecloths, lighting charcoal and simultaneously greeting guests.
2. Make sure the area is self contained. We love Lemos Farm and there are so many fun things to do there: pony and choo choo rides, a petting zoo, bouncy houses and multiple play areas. However, the only party area available when I booked (#8) turned out to be spread around the farm. So in addition to trying to set up and greet people as the party started, we were also wrangling Frida who was running across the park into the jumpy house, trying to hop on the choo choo, and bolting to the opposite end of the park to the petting zoo.
3. Print out and bring along a printed copy of your party details and/or contract. When we arrived there was a lot of confusion about what color stickers the kids should wear to be able to ride the ponies and choo choo for free as part of our party (they were turned away several times), as well as the starting time of the party. I ran back and forth across the grounds at least three times trying to sort things out. That piece of paper would have saved time and sweat (though I did need the exercise!).
4. Don’t worry about decorations. The kids (and parents) will be so focused on the activities available at the park that they won’t notice. And it’s a major schlep to carry a bunch of garland and burlap stars and flowers from the parking lot (even with the fancy wheelbarrow we had at our disposal). We had little cowboy hats as party favors—they looked cute stacked on the gift table and they alone would have been enough to make our area festive. The tragic part? I didn’t have time to set up most of what we lugged there!
5. Schedule the party at a time when your child will be rested and happy. Obvious, right? But I was keen on having a pony party, and the 2-5:30 slot was the only one available. Frida was so tired that she literally fell asleep on a pony (evidence, though blurry, above)! Luckily the attendant was paying attention and ran over to wake her before she slipped right off her little equine. Plus she was kind of a trainwreck mood-wise.
6. Bring alcohol. OK this might not be the best advice if (like at Lemos Farm) alcohol isn’t allowed. But I have to say that sipping on an ice cold beer (camouflaged in a paper party cup) helped mitigate the stress of all of the above! But if you get caught don’t mention my name.
Frida and the rest of the kids didn’t notice any snags in the party execution. She had her cake and candles to blowout, the kids got to ride ponies and choo choos, and parents who don’t get to see each other nearly enough got to catch up (albeit with frequent interruptions from little ones, naturally). Maybe one of these days I’ll learn not to unnecessarily stress myself out for my kids birthday party! But probably not