This birthday, big #8, is the first to follow my son’s ADHD diagnosis. We’ve made a lot of changes in our household since undertaking a natural treatment plan, and I’ve had to relearn how to recreate a few old traditions. For example, the birthday party.
For the sake of sharing ideas on how traditional birthday party treats and festivities can be redone to include natural treatment methods, I’ve posted some of the party in pictures. Other ideas just fit in with the dino theme. Each year my son picks one and I have to say, dinosaurs were a lot of fun.
Of course many kids with ADHD have gluten sensitivity. I’ve whipped up a gluten free cake mix here and there but this time my son wanted to see what happened when we put some of his favorite gluten-free rice-crispy-style chocolate cereal in the batter. His ideas led to the successful creation of chocolate sludge cake, which is appropriate for a dinosaur birthday. I poured homemade frosting onto the cake before it was done cooling, so it looked like a big mud slide or tar pit. My son decorated it with little dino figurines. The end result was a dino death scene of pure carnage. Like I said – appropriate for an 8-year-old birthday party.
Yes, cake and icing are full of sugar. Typically you try to avoid sugars in an ADHD diet. However, the point is to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes for better focus and less hyperactivity. If my son eats cake at his birthday party and then burns up a the energy running around chasing his friends on a Saturday afternoon, it’s a way better scenerio than, say, giving him cake for breakfast and then sending him to school.
THE “ICE CREAM”
Casein is another biggy in the ADHD food sensitivity realm. Luckily we found a good alternative to ice cream early on in the treatment. We bought a Yonanas machine, which turns frozen bananas into soft serve. The least complicated way to do this at a party is to pump out banana-flavored soft serve as if it were vanilla for each guest. I would recommend this first. However, if you want to make it a little extra fun you could give other flavor options. I offered strawberry, raspberry and pineapple as other flavors to add to the yonanas. To keep the production line moving smoothly I took orders while the kids were playing and got my orders up so I knew who got what, and I was able to move this process along more quickly. The kids were having fun running around, playing and slowly finishing off their cake so I was able to serve them yonanas in a timeline that worked well for the overall party events.
My son always wanted a piñata at his birthday party, but I didn’t feel he and his friends were old enough until now. Of course stuffing it with candy isn’t really an option because it’s hard to find a cost effective variety that’s free of food dyes (avoiding food dyes is another part of the ADHD diet). So instead my son and I went to the bank and got some rolls of coins. The $6 I spent on pennies, nickels and gold dollars was way less expensive than what I would have spent on specialized candy. Not bad.
THE PARTY FOOD
In years past I would throw parties around the lunch hour which meant providing a kid-friendly meal. Now, I don’t mind cooking up foods for my son that fit his unique food sensitivities. But let’s be honest, cooking for food sensitivity uses up an abnormal amount of time and/or money (meals have to be made from scratch or you could spend a lot of money on something pre-made at a natural food store). Now multiply that by 12 guests. Yeeeaah … no.
So I did what any sane person would do and scheduled the party for 2pm. DEFINITELY not lunch time. The snacks were light and not terribly expensive. Veggie Straws, potato chips, nachos and salsa and carrots fit on his unique food-sensitivity diet and were the only snacks I offered aside from the cake and yonanas. It worked out perfect. For drinks, I provided Zevias and water. If you’re not familiar with Zevia, it’s soda made with stevia (an herb), not sugar or artificial sweetener. Their products aren’t filled with food dyes either. I figured my son would already be consuming enough sugars in the cake, so this was a good option.
THE UNEXPECTED ICE CREAM TRUCK VISIT
You can plan one heck of a diet-friendly party, but you can’t always plan for THE ICE CREAM TRUCK. Luckily our local ice cream truck lady found out about our son’s diet early in the summer. At first she didn’t have anything he could eat, but by the next visit she had a stock of Outshine bars – one of the only popsicles our son can eat. Coolness points for the ice cream lady (literally), and a happy boy who didn’t feel left out at his own birthday party.
Really the decorations were nothing too extravagant. Neither is our property in general. Sorry to disappoint those of you who found your way here through Pinterest 😛 :-). But there was one thing in particular that my son and I put together for you. It’s the dino mouth garage.
THE ACTIVITIES The main activity was the paleontologist dinosaur dig – a sensory bin giveaway I put together in an earlier blog post. Sensory bins are great for any kid (or adult), but they are especially helpful for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism and ADHD (and other cases). Basically you create a small world and let the child use their sense of touch and imagination to play. The world I created was a paleontology dig with moon sand, a toy dinosaur fossil, seashells, river rocks and some real gem stones from Amazon. Directions on how to make the bins are here. The bin activity went better than I had imagined. I was surprised at how long the kids remained interested in digging for gems. It was a little tough to find some of them, but those kids wanted to keep at it! The adults at the party exchanged looks of disbelief. Once the kids started the dig they had gone from jumpy and excitable to straight zen. It was almost eerie. After a while I told the kids they could wash their hands and move on to the next activity. It took some urging. Most didn’t realize they could take their bins home, which meant they could search for gems there, too. I was pleased with how happy the bins made those kids.
Another activity that my son likes to plan at these parties is an obstacle course. This year we incorporate dino hopscotch, which he drew himself using dinosaur footprint shapes.
We had a great time and received compliments from parents indicating that the party was a success. Hey, if it was bad I wouldn’t have shared it! 🙂 I hope you can take away some ideas and inspiration for your own parties from this post.
Thanks for reading!