We celebrated Babygirl’s fifth birthday this weekend. This was, in many ways, the typical kids’ party, the kind where you invite the whole preschool class, do some fun activity, and eat cake.

But we’ve established a tradition: the kids’ parties are opportunities to also do some good in the world. And I’m proud of what we accomplished.

She wanted her party to have a fairytale storybook theme. Hmmm. I thought on this. We have a friend who’s a representative for Barefoot Books, an excellent company that makes beautiful educational children’s books. I contacted her, and she was enthusiastic, so we brainstormed, and it was a fantastic success. She picked a cute story about a vegetarian dragon to read out loud for the kids, and they loved it! Plus, adults perused the book collection; a little Christmas shopping on the side.

We also asked (begged) guests to forgo the gifts, and instead bring donations to Cradles to Crayons, a highly-rated charity that matches necessary gear (clothing, school supplies, books) to children in need. It was so heartening to see everyone come in with bags and bags of really nice things to give away. (Yes, many folks also brought gifts for Babygirl, but these tended to be small and useful, like scented pencils, stickers, or books. Isn’t it true that kids go crazy over the small things anyways? It worked out.)

Of course, we had arts and crafts (decorating foam tiaras and swords), a unicorn pin~ata, and a castle cake. The cake: that could be a whole post. Suffice to say, Babygirl chose a photo off of Pinterest, and we attempted to re-create it. Yes, it took at least four hours to make, came out crooked, and got totally mangled at serving time. But, it was definitely a castle, and I make a damned good buttercream frosting, so we had nothing but compliments.

Another thing that was a hit: healthy food. Yes, the cake was a butter bomb. But we also served a rainbow fruit salad, and my aunt and uncle brought massive catering-quality antipasto salad platters. There were murmurs of thankfulness for the lack of bad pizza, and the food was pretty well demolished by the end.

Babygirl, her friends, and the other parents seemed to truly enjoy themselves, and we felt really good about what we were doing: fostering a love of reading, and supporting a local charity.

Today I loaded the piles of donated goods into the minivan, and man, there’s good stuff in there. Alot of brand-new hats and mitten sets; hardly worn warm coats and boots; clean and shiny children’s books galore. We have an appointment at Cradles to Crayons’ “Giving Factory” this week so Babygirl can present her collected goods to them in person. I know she’ll be so proud; me too. The party was a win/win, and we will definitely continue this birthday tradition.

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The birthday girl!
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The three-tier castle cake Babygirl and I made, plus the kind of food I like to eat at a party: rainbow fruit salad!
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Gorgeous display from our local Barefoot Books ambassador
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Bags and bags of really high-quality kids’ winter clothes, plus oodles of children’s books, for our favorite local charity, Cradles to Crayons