My eldest daughter, Abigail, recently turned 8 years old. Sometime early in September, I asked her if she wanted to have a party (yes), and what she might like the theme to be (don't know). So we brainstormed, brainstormed some more, and then took a break for a couple of weeks. Later that month, we visited the Northeast Animal Shelter with the intention of adopting a kitten, and while we didn't leave with a kitten that day (though we did two visits later!), we discovered that this particular shelter hosts birthday parties. Done and done. We booked it.
Then I wondered: what the heck do you do at an animal shelter birthday party? I guess ... walk around and look at the animals? And then ... walk around and look at the animals some more? I love animals but can you really spend an entire 2-hour party walking in circles gawking at all the cute pups and cats looking out at you to adopt them?
I figured the folks at the shelter had done this before but as usual I wanted to include some sort of DIY craft project (which I found online here). The kids each made a pencil cup using sisal twine to somewhat resemble a scratching post. Then they decorated the cup to look like a dog or cat (or whatever animal they wanted). They cut out their own shapes (as opposed to me giving them pre-cut shapes) and glued them on so that each pencil cup was unique. Wrapping the ball jar with the 1/4" inch twine required a bit of parental "intervention" for some of the kids. The project was just challenging enough to take up some time and simple enough so everyone could finish and take his/hers home as a favor (along with some fresh new colored pencils and pens). Contrary to what I'd told parents, no kittens or puppies were handed out.
With craft time over, a volunteer at the shelter named Holly quizzed the kids on animal trivia, educated them a bit about the shelter and animal adoption, and then gave them a tour. The "loud" dog room was not loved by all, but they all got to see some really cute puppies along the way. The majority of the available cats and kittens had been adopted, so while there weren't many felines to be seen, it also meant those animals had found a home, which is the point after all!
After some hand washing, dinner, and kitty cat cupcakes (made in the image of our recently adopted kitten), Holly brought a few heart-meltingly adorable puppies in for all the kids to play with. Turns out we didn't have trouble filling the afternoon l like I had thought we would; the party went a half hour late.
One of my favorite parts of the party was that we requested no gifts. Instead kids could bring a donation to the shelter (if they chose), such as old towels, pet food, waste bags, etc. I was pretty psyched and proud that my daughter was completely on board with a "no gifts" party ... and in the end, it was a win-win for her, as her cousins and other family friends ignored the request.
All in all, it was a successful animal shelter party with a message about caring for our furry friends and volunteerism to boot!