My Last $100: Rolling Up With a Vat of Glitter

Aunts throw the best parties.

Photo credit: Qihui, CC BY 2.0.

I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a zany aunt to sweep into town from time to time, and—luckily for me—my sister and her husband are raising two nieces for me (or daughters for themselves, whatever).

Despite the fact that they’re RUDELY living in the Midwest and I’m in New York, you best believe geography hasn’t stopped Claire and Vivian from receiving glittery T-shirts, night-lights, and books by the crate. Am I living out my childhood dreams through them? What psychologist could crack this code?!

I’m taking a moment here to address three obligatory points:

  1. While my sister and her husband do very well for themselves, they’ve been amazing about balancing between the girls having fun treats without spoiling them. They’re sweet, smart, goofy little darlings.
  2. I live below my means and have no debt, so I don’t feel too guilty logging onto the Gap Kids website, because OMGlittlecardigans.
  3. “But time is the greatest gift of all!” To that I say: Shut it, adult with a fistful of magic wands coming through.

Okay! Back to my last hundo.

Now that my nieces are (almost) 6 and (almost) 4, they’re too old for me to wrestle them into teeny tiny dresses without offering their strong opinions on outfits, and they’re too young for me to kidnap to live with me for the summer, so I had to get more creative with my Niece Treats™.

The answer: Birthday parties!

As the younger niece, Vivian, careens her way toward 4, she mentioned on FaceTime that she wanted a party with “all the underwater animals.” Viv, I gotchu.

The plane ticket somehow found its way into my inbox before we even hung up, and with my sister’s blessing/thanks, I leaned hard into the world of preschool party planning.

$6.15: The going rate for 100 glittery blue die-cut seahorses on Etsy. Originally, my cart included octopi, shells and whales too, but shipping was almost as much as the cutouts. I’m all for supporting artists, but calm down, you bought a die-cut machine and glittery paper. So we’re going to have seahorse cupcake toppers and I’ll stick some to ribbon for a little garland. (Tape? Glue? Magic? TBD!)

$14.55: A UNICORN POOL! WHAT! This will officially be her birthday gift. It was almost $100 originally, but I worked some dark arts and got it down to $14 with shipping! (Hating shipping charges is a recurring theme of my life.) It was on sale at Pottery Barn Kids, and they kindly shone a light down upon me in the form of a 20 percent off coupon, plus I cashed in my credit card reward points for a Pottery Barn gift card. Boom. Nieces can get their splash on.

$22: Assorted card stock, glittery foam (glitter is another running theme I’m spotting here) and embossing powder. I’m a person who owns an embosser and is always vigilantly on high alert for things to emboss, so those invites have the perfect balance of glittery shells and embossed sea creatures. (Okay, technically I used mermaids, not sea creatures, since I already had the mermaid stamp. I take full responsibility with Viv’s future teachers if she thinks mermaids are part of the ecosystem.)

$64.60: Amazon mega purchase. Careful readers will notice this is where things go off the rails… in the form of bulk crepe paper, a gross of balloons, starfish candy molds, gummy sharks, an inflatable octopus ring toss, and rolls of that blue transparent plastic stuff to cover the windows and make it look all underwatery. I’ll be eating most of the gummy sharks because I can put them on a shelf higher than children can reach. But they’ll look cute on the table before I get to them.

If we can further pinpoint a moment I lost my damn mind, it would be a toss-up between the oversized, novelty inflatable whale or the machine that projects blue lights on the ceiling to look like we’re under the ocean. We’ve come too far to half-ass it now!

We’ll also be making under-the-sea slime for party favors, so somehow a vat of blue glitter wound up in my cart too, along with iridescent purple plastic shell boxes to put the slime in. (I can justify this in my mind by imagining teaching the nieces about the actual “slime” in the ocean in the form of pollution. I’m sure two kids hyped up for a birthday party will be very open to my environmental lecture.)

Once I touch down in Kansas City, all that will be left to do is make their dining room into an oceanic experience, whip together some cupcakes, jab those seahorses in there, attempt to papier-mâché a piñata, prep balloons for the water balloon fight, and explain to my sister why there’s a 5-foot-long whale in her front yard.

Aunt Kate isn’t playing around with this party.

Kate works in TV in New York when she’s not figuring out how to papier-mâché dolphins. You can find her on Twitter @KCorc.

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