I Believe In Magical Birthday Parties – Shannon Ashley – Medium

Last weekend, we celebrated my daughter’s 5th birthday. For the third year in a row, I booked the party at a party planning venue in Chattanooga, and this year, I spared no expense.

I can’t exactly explain why I like to throw big birthday parties for my daughter. I suspect it has a lot to do with my own childhood and the fact that I don’t have any positive memories about my own birthdays.

There were only 2 birthday parties that included school friends when I was a kid, but both ended in tears and humiliation and the sense that my parents didn’t actually love me.

Now that I’m a mother, I want to create happy memories for my child and me. And as a single mom, I feel proud of myself for throwing a great birthday party without the help of her dad.

The first year that we moved down to Tennessee, my daughter had a Minnie Mouse party. Last year, it was Hello Kitty.

This year, it was an Octonauts theme, and unlike the previous parties, I wasn’t saving money for months to make it happen. It felt good to have the sense of finally doing better financially. And we made some lovely memories.

My daughter (right) with one of her step sisters (left).

When my daughter first decided upon an Octonauts theme, she asked if she could dress up like her favorite character Dashi. Hmm, that proved more difficult than I thought. I wound up asking a Ukrainian woman on Etsy if she could modify one of her existing patterns to resemble the outfit. She did it, and the results were beautiful.

The hat was even harder to find. So I ordered a white sailor hat headband on Amazon and painted it blue. Then I glued the Octonauts logo to the front. Finally, I bought some blue rain boots to complete the look.

The dress was inspired by my daughter’s favorite Octonauts character.

When it came to the party decor, I knew I wanted to have a candy table. Yes, it was silly and frivolous. I wanted to do it anyway, and I had tons of fun picking out the ocean themed candy. Along with some Octonauts plushies and cute party favors.

I emailed the party place pictures of the stuff I bought, and they filled in the blanks for a truly beautiful atmosphere.

A gluten-free cake and candy table.

My daughter is on a gluten-free diet for her enlarged tonsils, and we found a local bakery to make a beautiful cake.

And the party place was awesome as always to keep the kids entertained. We had about little kids, 6 big kids, and 8 adults. I’m pretty sure everybody had a great time.

Playing ocean games!

Maybe it’s the artist in me, but I absolutely adore a fully decked out party with a fun theme. And this theme did not disappoint me one bit.

Honestly, the decor was spot on.

Of course, bubbles were a great touch for the ocean theme.

The kids had fun with a bubble machine.
We enjoyed party platters from Publix.

Grocery store platters are my favorite party food because they accommodate so many different food preferences. And I also made some rice krispie treats for the sole purpose of getting these little fondant Octonauts faces.

I made rice krispie treats.

I joked that these were the most expensive rice krispie treats I’d ever made because I had to buy the faces. Then I used Kerrygold butter and Smashmallow marshmallows, which are more like homemade, instead of the standard tasteless factory puffs. Finally, I dipped the treats in Guittard white chocolate melts which I colored blue.

Out of all the food, these treats ran out first.

Well, somebody on Etsy made the fondant faces.

Another cool thing about the party place? Activities! Our kids got to make the coolest little crafts.

The kiddos had craft time.

They even made a blue ocean slime.

And slime time!

I was really pleased with the entire party at every turn.

All in all I think the little ones had fun.

At the end of the day, I probably believe more in magical birthday parties than ever before. And I’m glad that I do.

I had zero complaints about the cuteness of it all!

I feel lucky to work from home doing something I love, and lucky that this work is helping me give my daughter a good life.

My daughter had fun, which was the whole point.

And I’m happy to talk to my daughter about how fortunate she is, and explain that when she sees me working so hard on my writing, it’s all for our future. For magical birthday parties and new adventures.

Running a party house seems like a pretty awesome gig.

I’m even more proud to show her that she doesn’t need a Prince Charming to make any of this happen. That there’s no shame in being a single mother who works hard to provide for her child.

This pregnancy left me displaced with no job, no home, and no support system. Seeing how far we’ve come doesn’t just excite me–I know it inspires other single moms to believe in themselves too. I still have big dreams ahead of me.

And I know that my future includes helping other single mamas find their own way too. That’s a lot to smile about, don’t you think?

It was a magical party 💖

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