When Jackson’s fourth birthday rolled around last August, it was certainly the perfect time for him and his family to celebrate! The year before, Jackson and his little brother, William, were both diagnosed with autism, and their lives were thrown into a whirlwind of changes. But after months hard work for the boys, Jackson’s mom knew this party at their Dunwoody home was not only for her son, but for all the amazing children with disabilities the family had come to know and love on their new journey. And what a great party it was! Bright primary colors were used all throughout the carnival themed celebration, from the “Welcome” sign and balloons outside to the candy bar abounding with a rainbow of sweets. Activities focused on movement and gross motor skills were selected, including ring toss, sidewalk chalk, and — the highlight of the event! — a giant bounce house. Carnival treats of snow cones and popcorn were savored as kids darted to and fro about the yard, but all slowed down as the birthday cake candles were lit and a loud rendition of “Happy Birthday” was sung to the bright-eyed Jackson. This heartwarming celebration is brought to you by Melissa Prosser Photography!
Was there a specific theme or style?
Jackson’s 4th Birthday party was a carnival extravaganza. The carnival theme was used with the primary colors. Dozens of balloons, a candy bar, snow cones, treat boxes for the kids, and games helped create a magical atmosphere for this incredible day.
Did you DIY any of the details?
I created my own candy bar, treat boxes and did use my own labels around the party. Most of the decorations were purchased and then repurposed for different uses.
Tell us about the food and desserts.
The food was 100% focused on kids favorite snacks. I had to make special considerations for a large number of the children who were on gluten-free diets. Snacks included Veggie Straws, Goldfish, popcorn, snow cones, candy and of course the cake. Drinks at this event were juice boxes, Gatorade and water not typically what I have served at parties but it was all about the kids.
What were your playful twists that made the event unique?
My playful twist is always an incredible focus on detail. I put thought into every aspect of the party. More than anything I tried to really imagine how the children would play and what would be fun for them. The most unique aspect of this party was all of the games were specially chosen for children with autism. Knowing that many of the children had sensory processing issues, I chose activities that focused on gross motor skills, movement and with big impact to the senses. (Ring toss, bean bag throw, sidewalk chalk, bounce house) Most importantly, the event was unique because it wasn’t just a party. It was an opportunity for the children and their families to be apart of an event.
What kind of energy did your entertainment give the event?
Entertainment at this party was an enormous bounce house with a slide. The kids were elated were constantly running in and out. The bounce house was, of course, a huge hit.
One big item or entertainment for your event. It is so much easier to build an incredible party around something that captures your theme.
Don’t sweat your schedule (unless it is for a wedding) people are going to take longer and linger more than you think. Don’t get stuck on an agenda that no one really benefits from but you. Once the party starts, it is what it is and almost always it is more fantastic that you think. Make sure you take time to enjoy instead of watching the clock.
What was the most memorable moment?
The most memorable moment by far was Jackson having the Birthday song sung to him. He loves music and often sings Happy Birthday all year round, as well as, Christmas music as well. It was most memorable to me because it was Jackson’s first birthday that he understood what was going on and he was so excited. The fact that the cake was chocolate certainly didn’t disappoint either.