Wildwood Walk

comments: 43



















***T H A N K  Y O U  so, so much for your kind words and the Dovegray Doll orders!*** I am so excited about these and we are working to get everything organized and starting to assemble the parts and pieces of the kits. The pattern has been sent off to the printer and now we are just waiting for supplies to be delivered. We are on track to start shipping in November and I will keep you posted on our progress! I will refund excessive shipping costs after we ship; I have my eye on this and will adjust. Also, I had a question about skill-level needed to make these dolls. You do need a bit of hand-sewing and machine-sewing experience to make these dolls and clothes. I would not say they are beginner projects, though it depends on your determination, of course. I had plenty of people tell me that one of my little animal dolls was the first thing they had ever made and it went just fine — but they really wanted to make it! :) So it just kind of depends. Practice makes perfect, as they say, and it's true here, too. Doll clothes ARE a bit tricky because they are small and can be annoying! But if you're in the right mood, they can also be really, really fun. You just kind of settle in with it and take your time. The pinafore is the hardest part of any of these projects but it is quite fancy and needs some patience. I'm always here to answer any questions you have if you get stuck, so just email me and I will always help you if you run into problems!

We have a super busy month coming up and things are buzzing around here. I'm spinning plates and juggling at the same time. Mimi has her "friend" birthday party here next weekend and then her family birthday party the weekend after. She has invited ten kids to her friend party and the house is small. I don't know most of the kids or their parents, because, new school, new friends, etc. EXCITING! Mildly terrifying. Small house. She wants to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Bozo's Buckets (she's never played either of them, I don't think), have a pinata, and decorate cupcakes. Any advice on having a kid party at home GRATEFULLY RECEIVED. Tell me everything. All I care about is that she and the kids have fun. I'm going to try to get the parents to drop off, first of all. Does that seem rude? I have no idea. I just literally don't know where they will stand. . . .

The photos above are from a walk we took last weekend on the Wildwood Trail. They re-routed my favorite little part of the walk (the beginning, by the archery course) but it was still just so nice. Mimi wore her Shimmer cowl that I knit a few weeks ago. This is the third time I have knit that cowl and for some reason I never enjoy knitting it. I love having them, but I don't enjoy knitting them. I think it's because I find it almost impossible to count my rows when I'm doing cables if I forget to put one on the counter. I just can't figure out how many rows go in the cable. I don't know why.

After the walk we stopped at Vista Spring Cafe and this is one of my very favorite places for a Saturday-afternoon lunch in Portland. I had this lasagna and it was literally the best lasagna I have ever had besides my mother's in my life. I could only even finish half of it. I highly recommend it after a lovely autumn afternoon in the woods. You may even get to watch the guys washing the firetruck at the tiny little fire station right across the street as we got to one time. I love that place.


This was good. ↑


Re: kids' parties. Have an activity for them to do as they arrive--I usually had them color paper placemats. It corrals the kids and focuses them so they don't run wild. Have more activities planned than you think you'll need. Have 1-2 other adults there to help. Put cupcake frosting in small paper cups and use popsicle sticks for the spreaders. Have lots of sprinkles, etc in cupcake papers available.
Serve a savory (chips, nuts, raw veg and dip) along with the sweets. Make the time shorter rather than longer. Have a big bottle of wine chilled for after the party.
Do have a coffee maker and some cookies, etc available if parents stay. Some of them will--and some will be a nuisance. Just ignore. Focus on the kids.
Enjoy. Take lots of pictures. If she opens gifts in front of kids, get a pic of Mimi, kid and gift and enclose it with the thank you note. Otherwise, take a pic of Mimi and gift and enclose it. Be sure mohave her write a simple note--Thank you and the picture and her name is enough if she writes it. It will be memorable.

Great suggestions Anne! I would also encourage parents to leave their kids. (And put it in the invitation.) So much better to not have to also entertain parents! Encourage them to grab a coffee and enjoy a little me time while their child is at the party. And shorter is always better. Always ;)
I love the chilled wine suggestion for after the party too. Enjoy!

Connie McNally says: September 30, 2019 at 12:14 PM

I would include "drop off at X time" on the invite, but in my experience, parents were THRILLED to have someone entertain their kids for a couple of hours, whilst they savored the peace and quiet (-;

Dana Laviano says: September 30, 2019 at 12:19 PM

Dear Alicia,
I am not even done reading your post and I had to stop to tell you the parents of the kids will be DELIGHTED to drop their kids off and not be forced to forfeit their weekend time. Not to be a stinker but seriously they'll be thrilled. Full confession: I am an off the charts introvert but feel pretty comfortable with this advice. Good luck with the party! You are a braver soul than I.

For us, scheduling every moment is the key to a happy party. Something to work on (craft) when they walk in, a snack before too long, and then games games activities cake and then games to fill the time before pickup. Have more activities than you think you need. Have helper adults who know their jobs in advance. My kids also do much better if they open each gift as they greet each friend as the friends arrive, because all the gifts in one quiet sit down=overwhelming and they can't enjoy each gift, they have to put it down right away and open another one, plus the other kids are bored and antsy. Regarding the parents, just note drop off and pick up times on the invitation. If someone feels better staying, have a parent snack/coffee area set up somewhere they won't be underfoot. Best of luck!

We have a small house and I had all three of my kids parties at home. Unless things have really changed in the last decade, the parents really don’t want to stay. My oldest played pin the star on Sheriff Woody from Toy Story. Your dining room is perfect. You might want to consider decorating cookies vs. cupcakes, might be less messy. Basically anything you can do in your backyard is a great idea. Here’s some other games: musical chairs, drop the clothespins into the cup (standing on a short stool), pass the many wrapped package (crayons, or a kraft surprise) a couple of these to pull out if needed. Finally, if you cover your dining table in brown paper and leave out tons of crayons, colored pencils, the kids will always have something to do while waiting on what’s next, plus it helps with cupcake/cookie decorating. It’ll be hectic and crazy and a great relief when done, but worth it. For what it’s worth, every single one of my kids ended up crying either before, during, or after at least once or twice. Too much excitement and fun.

It's funny, because when I was a child all there was was drop off parties!
There were two games we played that everyone seemed to enjoy when I was 5/6/7, and they are so simple. One involved trying to drop a clothespin into a milk bottle (obviously, a decanter etc might be easier to find these days). You stand at full height and drop from your nose as you tip your head down and "aim." The other was "Pass the parcel" (my mom is English). Which is like "Hot Potato" I guess. Wrap up a small prize item in layers and layers of paper; pass in circle while music plays; one person unwraps while it stops; and it continues.
Decorating "crowns" of construction paper also a good starting bit. (or maybe ending! to wind down.)
Keep it simple!

My friend uses the phrase "Siblings and drop-offs welcome!" on her daughter's birthday invitations. This way people like me who would be otherwise afraid to ask will know it's okay.

I think someone said this...maybe multiple, but have an activity kids can do on their own for beginning, end or lags in middle. Activities like pin the tail end up much quicker than expected or kids drop out of participation and you need something they can do like color or play with pipe cleaners or something to occupy them. You need 1-2 adults to help with both pinata and cupcakes. TRUST, assign a parent to each station with you!!! parents hate going to parties as well, especially when you don't know other parents so it will be helpful for them to have assignments as well as you.

Nobody needs that much space, just be open to chaos and know going in you will not be able to control. And don't try to feed a meal, do in between meals times and have snack food or something. Get them out of there before meal time. Good luck, can't wait to see/hear about it!!!

Best kids party plan is to do all the activities at the start so they can run off after and you dont have to hunt them all down again, and make sure you set an end time! Nothing worse than people hanging around for 3hrs while your trying to get back to normality. My mum always set 1.5hrs. Seems quick but most people are ready to leave by then anyway.

2 hours is a good time for a party. Don't plan all the things, maybe an optional craft - cupcake decorating sounds perfect. Children love just to be in their friend's home and they love seeing presents opened if possible, not just put to the side for 'later'. Games are loved, they prefer that to being 'entertained' (magician's etc tend to be pretty dull). A pinata sounds fun too.

Nice party food prepared in advance (finger food, maybe some little pizzas too), some jolly music and dancing and happy games, present opening and birthday cake. Don't try too hard, be relaxed and enjoy. Children love home parties best of all and they don't happen enough anymore.

Few parents tend to stay, if they do pretty much ignore them. Some parents have to for logistic reasons, otherwise they need to be dropped off. You can hint at this in the invitation by giving drop off time and collection time. 10 seems a good number for a fun party; hope you all enjoy!

Finally, don't sweat the party bags; its not a competition and it's only the party girl/boy's birthday. They will get to have presents on their own day. Cake and a few bits and pieces is fine. It shouldn't need to cost a fortune or need much organising or much scheduling to to be lots of memorable fun. A couple of adults to help out with passing food around or refilling drinks and overseeing games is a good idea.

Pass the parcel is really fun. You can put something in every layer and make sure every child gets something or you can make it really count and just put something in the middle (old school style). Musical chairs, is also popular. Children still love the old games if they get a chance. Don't overthink or worry about it, it's meant to be enjoyed not endured.

We've had several home parties over the years. DO NOT let it go over 2 hours! Seriously, they will just be going bonkers at that age if the time goes over that 2 hour window. And just make it really clear on the invite that the party is a drop off situation. Mention it twice. Don't be subtle!"When you drop off,....the kids will x.y.z" "After you drop off your kiddo, we'll do x.y.z. and then see you in a couple of hours!"

Games: pass the parcel, sleeping lions , neither requires much room. Sleeping lions is good for after eating!
Be super organised, I know you are. Have more activities than you think you might need and be flexible if you run out of time. Musical statues, musical chairs are fun. Pass the orange ( between the knees, two teams, first to get Orange to end is winning team. Bobbing apples or biscuits tied on strings hanging from washing line...have to eat without hands. Eat the chocolate. A bar of wrapped chocolate passesround the circle and when music stops you have to put on gloves and pick up knife and fork to attempt to undo chocolate wrapper and eat chocolate.

Drop-off parties seem to depend on where you live? When I was outside of Boston, as soon as kids hit kindergarten, the parties were drop-off. Now that I live in Vermont, most communities are so tight that even though I'm relatively new and not (yet?) tight friends with my kids' friends' moms, it seems like parents stick around to chat and hang out.

What a fun walk through the forest.. we have our own little forest on our farm.. kind of fun as it's the view from our master bedroom. I love seeing Mimi enjoying the woodland and what a wonderful shawlette you made for her! I also think that all the moms will enjoy a child-free few hours. I was my son's Cub Scout den mother and the mom's would sit in their cars and wait for them and that was fine.

I'm looking forward to getting my doll kit when you ship them. I successfully made the bunny so I'm confident I'll do okay with the doll. I've always loved red hair so I got the one with auburn hair just like my little sister had. And she had 3 red haired kids!

Enjoy the week!! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Goodness, it's been much too long since I've thrown a kids birthday party, but reading everyone's comments above has been fun and insightful.

I think if you choose from anyone of them, you'll not go wrong. They all sound like fun. And whats been said about the 'drop off' is perfect. Nothing is rude is you ask in a nice way, and requesting kids to be dropped off is fine.

From your past birthday party blog posts, your party's have always been great! Just think of it, as just another day, with friends, and lots of cake! You'll be fine, exhausted, but fine.

One game I remember from my sister's fifth birthday party there in Portland back in the fifties was called "Who's Got the Button?". You thread a button (or even a plain gold wedding ring) on a long piece of string that you tie into a giant circle, just the right size to be held by a circle of, say, ten children. (The button must be able to pass over the knot.) The children sit on chairs in a circle, each holding onto the part of the string circle in front of them, with both hands out (palms down). One person stands in the center of the circle, looking around and trying to guess who has the button. The children around the circle move their hands together and apart, together and apart, passing the button along the string from hand to hand and person to person around the circle when they get the button, and just pretending to do so when they don't have the button. When the person guesses correctly, then the person who had the button trades places with the person in the middle. As the game proceeds, you can chant, "Button, button, who's got the button?"

Another old standby, from the days when every house had at least one, was Find the Thimble. You hide a silver thimble and everyone tries to find it. You might stipulate that they don't have to move anything in order to see it, so the room stays reasonably intact. When one person finds it, you start over.

The most awesome birthday game ever was at MaryBeth's house in grade school. There was a long string for each child, with a handle on one end that you wrapped the string around, and a prize at the other end. But all the strings were interwound and tangled around the room like a giant cobweb, so you didn't know which prize was yours until it was all untangled. We had so much fun! It helps to have a rather empty room or space to do this in. And I believe we all drew numbers at the beginning and started with the handle that had our number on it.

As for me, I'm still obediently playing your game of Guess What All Those White Dots in the Photo Are.... :) The suspense mounts.

1.5 hours is PLENTY at that age and you will still be exhausted. I will never forget my daughter’s 6th birthday when we’d blown through all three activities in the first half hour and ten kindergarten girls looked trustfully up at me with “now what?” on their faces. Any activity won’t occupy for more than 10 minutes, 15 if you’re lucky. I’ve since learned to dump a bucket of legos in one room, a pile of books in a quiet corner, a pile of balls in the backyard, a pile of fruit in the kitchen, and water to grab ... there is always a kid who needs to move, or retreat, or make stuff, or is hungrier, and that way I can smoothly direct them and not lose momentum with the rest of the group. And make sure everyone knows where the bathroom is!

10 kids that young is a lot to have in any house, good luck! But, don’t worry about your house being small! It’s lovely! People will squeeze around. I rarely drop off my 7 year old boy at parties, he refuses to let me leave, lol.
I had my son’s 7th party at our house for the first time in August. It was insane. The kids were terrors. Make them take their shoes off. Make them play outside and not inside turning every drawer and bin of toys upside down. I had a bouncy house (I know, over the top), and they barely went in it. To me it was a bit of a debacle, but my son was in heaven. Never again, next time if it’s at home I will insist on 5 or fewer kids. Or we will have it at a park or at a children’s museum or the zoo like everyone else. No one around here has parties at their house (Seattle), which is so odd to me because growing up in DC we only ever had them at home. Good luck!

We had all 14 or so boys in my son’s second grade class over for three Saturdays running to introduce them to the wonder that is Star Wars. The original trilogy, of course— this was like 12 years ago. We had themed snacks and, well, watched Star Wars.

Make sure everyone knows where the bathroom is, and remind them about bathroom breaks, Seriously. And a strict pickup time.

My favorite moment in the entire thing was the boys’ horror when my husband showed them what we’d be watching as an alternative if anyone gave away any spoilers (is it still a spoiler if The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980?), with Angelina Ballerina announcing, “I simply LOVE to dahnce!” Screams and yelps from all of them. It was great. :)

Also, I’m with you on counting cables.

You might consider having them sit down for a story time. That worked well for me with younger kids - not sure how old Mimi will be?

Amanda Schnabel says: October 01, 2019 at 05:50 AM

For all my kids' parties, I tried my very bestest to have everything organized--ALL components of the games ready, all the plates, napkins, etc. ready--every little step. That way, I, or my husband could reach for it immediately. I also tried to have way more to do than necessary--some things go faster than anticipated and it's nice to have plenty to do, if there's a lull in the free-play the kids will do on their own. I also made sure that I had a strong "staff" of adults--myself, my husband, my mom and maybe another parent. I'm sure, though, that you'll do great!!! ENJOY it!

We had a home party when my daughter was that age with about 10 guests. Parents will be delighted to drop off, although one may end up having to stay if their child is timid (that was always me with my eldest).

I was surprised by how WILD the children were. I knew them all from my time volunteering in my daughter's classroom, but they were hyped up and rambunctious in this different party atmosphere. Try to have a third adult on hand if you can. You won't regret the extra help. (I hadn't intended to have anyone besides my husband and me, but my dear friend INSISTED on staying, and she saved me that day!). I would suggest not letting them have the run of the house, and keeping them out of Mimi's room. She may be thinking now she wants to have her friends in her room to show them her special and favorite things, but that many kids can quickly become overwhelming. She can invite one or two friends over another time if she had her heart set on something like that.

It will be a memorable day!

What a wonderful outing! Mimi looks so happy, plus very cozy in her new cowl. I'm so excited for the Rosie doll kit ordered! I am excited to make clothes and handknits for her (and for the Basil Fox) that I knit your wee cardigan pattern yesterday. It turned out beautifully! Can't wait for the new wee sweater and cowl patterns you posted on Insta. I'd be happy to test-knit, too -- they're so fun to make!

So many different factors...I LOVE that she wants a party at home!!!...IF the weather works, I would plan parts of it for outside...as much of it as you can!!! Parties have gotten so out of hand...so over the top...RELISH the idea that she wants to have it at home!!! The years are so fleeting...sigh!!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.