Yes, I know, Harlow’s 6th birthday party was all the way back in November. But, that’s also when the holiday season was in full force and her birthday got lost in a sea of Halloween and Hanukah posts. Mazzy’s birthday was in there too and I haven’t written about her party yet either.

So, let’s get to it.

Harlow’s 6th birthday party was at a little underground crafting place called Jemz. I’m not going to tell you much about it because I think the owner has an interest in keeping it somewhat word of mouth. They’ve got no website, although I did find an Instagram account. The only reason I knew about the place was because Harlow went to a friend’s birthday party there last year, and made her mind up on the spot that she would be having her birthday party there too.

Can’t say I blame her.

Jemz is like a slice of DIY heaven in the basement of an apartment building. They’ve got strands of beads hanging from the ceiling, handcrafted colorful throw pillows strewn every which way, patterned washi tape leaving inspirational messages on the wall and a big urn full of loose buttons that is big enough to climb inside.

For birthday parties at Jemz, they pretty much do everything for you, while also making it look like you are the kind of mom who spent the past six months doing nothing but planning the decor for your daughter’s party. Ha!

Harlow wanted a fairy party, and then midway through planning switched to a star party, and then decided she wanted a butterfly party, and then finally settled on incorporating all three themes. Jemz was helpful throughout, telling me they would do a craft which involved decorating a star shaped purse, get fairy themed plates and cups (which happened to have butterflies on them), and decorate the table with star-shaped fairy wands for each guest.

For my part, I was in charge of Harlow’s outfit (kicked that one out of the park), the pinata and the cake.

As I do every year, I looked into getting custom-made cakes, totally balked at the price and then decided I could create something pretty on my own. Not the actual “baking the cake” part; I can’t do that. I like to buy a plain vanilla cake and then decorate myself.

I bought this plain cake from Magnolia Bakery:

Then I ordered some edible gold star glitter and edible paper butterflies from Amazon. I had about ten minutes to decorate the cake between when we arrived at the party and when everyone else arrived, and I was a little nervous. On the way there, I told Mike to pick up icing to affix the butterflies. I was imagining white or clear icing but he bought royal blue (surprise!), which I thought was going to ruin everything. Joke was on me, because it turned out great. The bright blue gave a little extra something to the butterflies when I creased them in the center. (Very hard to do without breaking them in half, FYI!) Anyway, it took eight minutes and voila!

Butterfly star fairy dust cake, per Harlow’s request:

After all the kids arrived and jumped around in the buttons for a good fifteen minutes, they were all ushered into the crafting room to make the star purses or pillows, if purses weren’t their thing.

Here you can see Harlow focusing really hard on getting her purse just right, as evident by her tongue sticking out. Why does that always indicate intense concentration?

Then the kids went into an adjoining room for pizza.

While they were eating, it was so fun to see Harlow hang out with her friends. Most of Harlow’s social interactions (besides play dates with one or two kids) usually take place at school so I rarely get to see how she commands a large group. At her party, I found out that Harlow really is an animated little leader who likes to run the show. She makes her weird little jokes, uses her funny voices, laughs easily and totally brings the fun, just like she does at home.

Next up was the cake. Harlow was very impressed with my butterflies.

We tried to get a family pic with the cake, but as with all birthday party photos, there are always a couple random kids who make their way into the shot.

After cake, the kids went into the main room to play a game called “Pass the Parcel” that involved passing around a package of surprise gifts in a circle, kind of like Hot Potato.

Except, it’s actually the exact opposite of Hot Potato because you want to be holding the package when the music stops. Then you get to unwrap one layer of tissue paper and get the gift inside. The package continues to get passed until all layers are removed and all gifts are claimed.

I will say— this game was a little more cutthroat than I imagined and I would not recommend playing it with kids who are too little. In Hot Potato, the potato is passed fast because people want to get rid of it, but with this game, everyone was taking their time with the package and then fighting over who was holding it in the end. We told them all that they would each eventually receive a gift (a grown-up was controlling the music after all), but kids still got upset and felt slighted. Oh well, lesson learned. I swear, at the party Harlow went to, they played the same game and it all went fine!

Anyway, after apologizing to the parents, the kids lined up for the piñata. Look at Mazzy with her game face on.

Everything was fine until Mazzy bashed the thing in, the candy went flying and Harlow was all the way at the end of the line and too far to retrieve anything. There were tears, but yay for her friends, because everyone quickly lined up to make sure the birthday girl had her share of treats.

Despite the last few bits of drama, Harlow had an absolutely fabulous time at her party. Jemz was amazing and I bet many of her friends walked out, telling their moms, “I want to have my birthday party here next year.”