Our precious, precocious Adele turned five in August, and, while there are many advantages to having a summer birthday, it’s disappointing not to be able to celebrate with school friends, especially now that Adele has made really good friends of her own for the first time. I suppose if we lived anywhere else, we could invite classmates to a summer birthday party, but here in Abu Dhabi, everyone gets the heck out of dodge for those unbearably hot summer months. So we threw her a family birthday party with NW friends on her real birthday and then waited until school resumed and even added a little extra time for Adele to make friends with the new children in her class. (Side note: the school kept groups of six children together from the previous year, so there would be a fair number of familiar faces in the new grade, and they paid particular attention to which children got along well and which needed to be separated. I am extremely pleased with the way it was sorted.)
Along the way, I decided to pair up with a friend whose son was in Mrs. Peripoli’s class last year and is in Mrs. McGrory’s class this year as well and whose birthday is in September AND who happens to be from the Seattle area, which I still find so ridiculously serendipitous. Adele and Winston were also “boyfriend-girlfriend” last year, whatever that means to four and five year olds. We proposed the same space-theme that I organized for Adele’s 5th family birthday party this summer, and then it morphed into a Star Wars-theme, which made Adele perfectly happy, because she’s a big fan (of humoring her father).
I am not good at working with other people, but Amber (Winston’s mother) was a pleasure to party plan with. She did a very good job of reminding me to avoid taking on too much responsibility and, even more importantly, she would take the initiative to go out and do stuff herself without me having to ask, which I hate doing and so don’t. Amber contributed more than me to this party, which is something I am not used to!
We decided to host the party at Amber’s villa, because it had plenty of space, including a backyard, which is a rarity around here. She has a giant trampoline, rented a bouncy castle, and we moved tables outside to take advantage of the dropping temperatures. However, it’s important to note that when I say the “dropping temperatures,” I mean that it was 98 degrees instead of 104, like it had been two days prior.
Winston as Anakin and Adele as Princess Leia
Adele and May having a bouncy lightsaber duel
The absolutely hilarious thing was that it was so hot, the kids naturally started to play more indoors (after running around outside until they were beet-red and dripping in sweat) and pulled out old fashioned board games like Life, which is not what I would have assumed of a bunch of five and six year olds!
Jamie, Walter, Olly, and Winston
The adults were either brave or lazy enough to stay outdoors on the veranda:
We had a couple of activities organized outdoors. First of all, I made lightsabers out of pool noodles and the kids went wild whacking each other…and some parents even reveled in being able to give their kids a good beating:
Adele’s Leia costume was just one of her daddy’s collared shirts on backwards and belted
Winston’s dad Todd gets in on the fun
I also wrapped little trinkets in tin foil, hid them around the perimeter of the house, and then announced an “asteroid hunt.”
Can you spot the asteroid hidden in the palm?
Riya, Laila, and Adele unwrap their finds
Amber filled up a bucket full of water balloons and let the kids run wild. No one complained about getting wet when it was 100 degrees! It helped that they dried instantly.
This is one of my favorite pictures that I’ve ever taken of Adele
My good friend Nikki, mother of Adele’s two-time classmate Olivia and her little sister Sophie, generously offered to paint faces:
Avalon as Amidala
Sarika as Padme Amidala with a Stormtrooper face
And these are Nikki’s own stunning daughters, who would have won the costume contest hands down, if we had organized such a thing:
Practically twins, but over a year apart! (And Sophie, the younger sister, is taller than Olivia)
Here are some of the other kids at the party:
Big brother Henry
Little sister May and her strikingly handsome green-gray eyed daddy
Jamie as Super Vaderman
May’s friend Bella as a little Leia
Muhamed, one of our only Emirati friends
And our celebrity guest, Mrs. Peripoli (on the left), Adele and Winston’s teacher from last year, getting a big hug from Anna and Lucy, who was also in their FS2 class
For inside fun, I made photo booth props:
Says the fetus to her big brother
And then, of course, there was the food!
Green grape and red grape lightsabers
Star and moon cupcakes by Amber
We also had a variety of green vegetables and green goddess dip that I was going to arrange into a Yoda face until I decided that was a ridiculous thing to do, and Amber ordered TWENTY pizzas to be delivered to the house. She accidentally ordered them the night before while we were setting up the house and then had to frantically call around to cancel the order before a car-full of pizzas arrived at midnight.
But the best part of a birthday party is the cake, right? I made one for each birthday child; a Leia cake for Adele and a Darth Vader cake for Winston:
A spiced apple cake with maple frosting and raisin roll buns!
Devil’s food cake with a Lindt ganache frosting and powdered sugar dusting
Frustratingly, by the time Winston went to cut his cake, much of the powdered sugar had melted, so it wasn’t nearly as impressive, but that’s why we take pictures of things.
Happy 6th birthday, Winston!
Happy 5th birthday, Adele!
Slicing into Leia’s face
Amber, my gorgeous Jennifer Connelly look-alike co-hostess
All together, we had two classrooms’ worth of kids at the party. Aside from the unavoidable heat, everything went very well! No real tears, the kids were happy to take home their favor bags, asteroid hunt prizes and lightsabers, and Adele and Winston each scored a fortune in birthday presents (one major upside of inviting 30 friends to your party). I’m not being figurative when I say a fortune, as it is Emirati tradition to give cash as a birthday present.
Guarding the favor bags until the end of the party
Saying goodbye to our guests
Edited to add: I’ve followed up this post with a second post with more information and how-tos for a few of the ideas featured above. Read it here.