Airplane Party - Parker Airlines Gate 3
Lisa in San Antonio, Texas, USA
November 2001 Winner
My son, Parker, celebrated his third birthday with a fantastic, inexpensive airplane party, which he chose as his theme.
I made the invitations on my computer to look like airline tickets. They were rectangular and on gray-blue cardstock and said the following on them: PARKER AIRLINES, the official birthday party airline. Each ticket listed the flyer (the child invited), departure location (the child's address), the arrival location (our address), the flight date (party date) and the flight time (party time). Along the bottom of the ticket I printed a code in "computer" font. It was "102398; THR EEYE ARSO LD; 2001" which is actually my son's birthdate, the words "three years old," and his third birthday year. It helped make the tickets look mechanically produced. Two thirds of the way over, I printed dots vertically to make the ticket look perforated. To the right of this was printed the flyer's name, the flight number (102398), First Class, and 500 Frequent Friend Miles. I also printed "This ticket is non-transferable. Passenger is limited to two carry-on parents. A light meal will be served. Check in at terminal. Proceed to Concourse P Gate 3. If additional seats are needed or if unable to make flight, please call a Parker Airlines ticket agent at (our phone number)." We got so many compliments on the invitations! And several people said to me "I found all your codes on the tickets!" It was like a game to the parents.
To decorate for the party I purchased white latex balloons in bulk. My family and I blew them up and then tied five or six together with clear fishing wire to make a "cloud." Then each white balloon "cloud" was hung from the ceiling with fishing wire, which was tacked into our ceiling. I also hand-drew crude airplane shapes onto red, white and blue posterboards. Separately, I drew crude wing shapes, which I then inserted into holes I cut crosswise into the posterboard planes. These, too, were hung from our ceiling so that the planes were flying amidst the clouds. On our front door, we hung a sign that said "Concourse P Gate 3." And we hung a posterboard plane from our porch. When the kids got to the party they deposited their presents in "Baggage Claim," which was marked with a sign. After hot dogs and chips we played two games, which seemed to be just the right amount for rowdy three-year-olds. First we played Pin the Pilot on the Plane. Before the party, on another white posterboard I drew a propeller plane with a spot left open for a pilot. I added stripes to the plane, clouds and a blue sky. I also had taken a digital picture of my son sitting down. I color printed up one for each child and cut out the shape of my son.
For the game, each child was given a "Parker Pilot" and shown where he was supposed to sit. I wasn't sure the kids would want to have their eyes covered, but much to my surprise they all let me tie a bandanna around their eyes and spin them around. Then with double stick tape they stuck their "Parker Pilot" to the plane. They thought it was great seeing Parker floating through the sky or hanging on to the wing of the plane! The child who got the closest to the pilot seat won a prize. Next we ran outside where we had airplane throwing contests. Each child got a small wooden airplane glider that I had assembled before the party. (These can be found inexpensive at craft stores.) They practiced for a while, and then my husband directed them to see who could fly the highest, fly the longest, fly the farthest, turn the best flips, hit a target, etc. -- until each child was able to win an award!!
While my husband was directing the contests, I was sitting with a cookie sheet full of decorated airplane cookies. Before the party I hand-drew a big airplane shape on posterboard and cut it out. (I hand-drew it because I could not find an airplane cookie cutter big enough for what I wanted to do.) I made butter cookie dough and traced the airplane shape with a knife. I made one cookie for each child (plus extras). I used store-bought icing (colored with food coloring) to add stripes and a child's name to each plane. Then outside during the game, when one child won the longest flight contest, I added the words "Longest Flight" in icing across the wings of the plane with that child's name on it. The kids absolutely loved running over and getting their personalized cookies, and the parents loved that each child got to win a prize, which is almost a necessity for three-year-olds! Then we went back inside for cake and ice cream.
The cake was in the shape of an airplane. (All you need is a 13 by 9 cake cut into parts to make a plane. I found several directions for this online.) The cake was even sitting on a map of the USA, which covered the cakeboard. After presents we sent all the kids home with party bags, which included their wooden airplanes, paper airplanes that I had printed on my computer (each plane had a cool name on it like "Steven's Stunt Plane" or "Jake's Jet"), airplane stickers, a whistle and candy.
Thank you notes were again made like tickets on cardstock on the computer, and besides the normal thank you's bore a picture of a plane and the words "Thank you for flying with us!" All in all, I think the kids had a blast, the parents were impressed, and my husband and I got off with a great party that took some of our time and effort but not a ton of our money! And best of all, our son was thrilled!