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by Meredith Spidel

Meredith Spidel is a writer, though she's not sure what that really means. If it involves bribing her kids with juice boxes while trying to navigate the beast of social media, she's totally there. Meredith blogs at The Mom of the Year, where she earns her title one epic parenting fail at a time and tries to offer quick, relatable laughs for fellow parents. She was thrilled to be part of the best-selling anthologies "I Just Want to Pee Alone," "I Just Want to Be Alone," and "You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth." Meredith has been featured on BlogHer. She remains terrified by crafts, promises to never share any useful household tips, and is fully committed to a less serious look at the world of parenting.

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  • Photo: Meredith Spidel
  • My ability to create and craft is limited, very limited. So when my son came to me asking for a camping party for his fifth birthday, I did what any DIY-challenged momma would do; I panicked extensively then called my most fancy friend and begged her help. As it turned out, she had already done a camping birthday party for one of her children a few years ago and had some really great ideas. Moreover, she is very, very kind and came over to help me actually bake the giant s'more cake, the zenith of this camping party endeavor—and she didn't blink once over the massive amounts of flour strewn about my kitchen. I love her.

    As I was in the thick of planning the bash, it turns out that my favorite décor blogger, Ashley of 3 Little Greenwoodswas also throwing a camping birthday party for her son. Ashley always wows me with her skills, originality and amazing pictures. What a blessing to be able to grab some of her ideas and incorporate them into my son's party!

    With these ladies behind me, I could do this...right?
  • Photo: Meredith Spidel
  • First thing's first, the party would be in our yard. Doesn't get cheaper or more convenient, but yes, I would hyperventilate a bit pre-party praying for sunshine.  

    My son wanted to actually sleep out in a tent with a couple friends (and daddy, of course!), so we set up our tent in the yard, which ended up being a hit. The only minor snafu with the tent was when my two year old daughter drove the John Deer gator into the side of the tent and ripped a hole in it. (My husband was not so pleased. Enter post-party ordering of tent repair kit!)

    Organized games make me a bit nervous, but my friend brought her stash of burlap sacks for a sack race, which the kids loved. I borrowed Ashley's fab idea of using brown paper bags to create a backyard scavenger hunt. We also set out a bunch of yard games, balls, and the mini trampoline. With a swing set, sandbox, and a bean bag toss the kids had plenty to do during the party.

    We used our fire pit to create a campfire. We asked everyone to bring lawn chairs with them to sit around the fire and put a bunch of roasting sticks out for people to cook their own hot dogs and marshmallows.

    I made some easy party favors: marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers in plastic bags so guests could make their own s'mores at home. We kept the rest of the food simple—veggies, pretzels, and popcorn. With all the fixings for s'mores and the hot dogs, there was plenty for everyone to eat.  

    ​All in all, the camping party was a win. My son had a blast, and enjoyed the coolest sleepover of his young life. And now my daughter is already asking to do this for her birthday...darn successful DIY birthdays!
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