“Baby” J is hardly a baby anymore. He’s 2! Yes, I am sad. But,whenever I think this idea through, whether it be about my kids progressing too fast through childhood or myself approaching middle age, the conclusion always seems to be that I am grateful that we have the chance to grow up or grow old. And of course, we are all only growing older, so I try not to let the sadness about the passing of each stage overshadow my enjoyment of it.
Now, enough philosophizing and onto the fun! J is in that stage of a young boy’s development that centers around all things with wheels, engines, and in the best cases, both. When I told Steve I wanted to throw J a firefighter birthday, in honor of his favorite vehicle, a firetruck, he commented that it was certainly a better idea than celebrating J’s second favorite, which is a garbage truck. True.
I found these cute “Red Fire Truck” invitations on Shutterfly, which worked our perfectly for our party.
Red Firetruck birthday invitation from Shutterfly. Perfect for a little boy’s party!
I also printed up this little note. As I mentioned, I like to try alternatives to birthday gifts to teach the children about giving and reduce clutter at home. At J’s party we raised $80 for the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation. My colleagues and I have seen several firefighters at the Cancer Center where we work. These women and men are exposed to many dangerous substances in their work protecting others, and they often do not get all the financial support and services they need to address the risk of cancer, so this organization is a good way to fill that gap.
Instead of birthday gifts, collect donations for a meaningful charity.
We dressed up the house with red and white balloons and these birthday banners I customized.
Customized firefighter birthday banner.
Another customized firefighter birthday banner.
For the children to play, we had the play firehouse I made, as well as a pop-up firetruck made by Playhut. I found the best price on eBay.
Firefighter birthday with DIY playhouse and pop up firetruck.
Sticking with my pledge to reduce plastic trinkets from birthday parties, I chose to buy real cotton baseball caps and add these firefighter badge stickers, rather than buy plastic hats that will break in a few days. The cotton hats were reasonably priced when bought in bulk, are very good quality, and blank, so they can be reused for any occasion. I wrote each child’s name inside with white puffy paint.
Buy cotton caps in bulk and add a sticker for a reusable and durable party favor.
In case you are looking for game ideas for a firefighter birthday, I’ll include mine below, but I’ll also disclose that we didn’t end up playing most of them. The kids were all so absorbed with each other and our toys that I didn’t manage to rally everyone in one place at one time for games…
These were inspired by some fire safety stickers I found. I wanted each child to get a sticker for completing an activity. I tried to make them things that kids from two to nine could all enjoy.
- Lesson: Ask kids if they know the number to dial if there they need the police, ambulance or firefighters. Remind them that they should not call 9-1-1 for fun. It is only for a serious emergency.
- Activity: Kids hop on a hopscotch pattern with the numbers 9, 1, and 1
Bee smart. Don’t let fires start & Fire safety starts with me
- Lesson: Be aware of items that could be a dangerous and start a fire. Remind kids to stay away from these items.
- Activity: Ask each child to name two things in a house that could start a fire. For the younger kids, name a few items and ask them to say if they could start a fire, eg. stove (yes), candles (yes), shoe (no!)
When fire strikes, Get out and stay out & Crawl low in smoke
- Lesson: If there is a fire, get out of the building as quickly as possible. Do not hide inside. If there is a lot of smoke, crawl on the ground, where there it’s less smoky.
- Activity: Make an obstacle course (ours started in a playhouse) that includes a crawling segment. To make it fun for the older kids, you can time them.
Happy Birthday, dear JJ!
I can’t take credit for the cake – we bought it – but I will take credit for eating several slices.
Firetruck birthday cake.
Birthday boy and his brother enjoying cake and their new firefighter caps.
In the end, I think it was a fun birthday for baby J and his friends. The occasion was made extra special, because Nicola came with her new baby (remember the bib and onesie bouquet I made?). We are looking forward to many more family celebrations with them.