Alright, here's the conclusion of Princess' Chinese birthday party in case anyone's interested.
Our gathering activity as the party guests were arriving was playing with tangrams (an ancient chinese puzzle involving seven shapes). First they tried to use all seven to make a square, and then they looked at this book (from the library) to get more ideas of things to make. I wanted a nice clear printable for them, but couldn't find one. This worked fine, though - they all had fun. I cut the tangrams from red posterboard (they were supposed to go home in the goody bags, but I forgot - oh well!)
We had Chinese bamboo flute music playing throughout the party - from a cd we checked out at the library. It really added a lot to the party.
Next we dipped things in chocolate. A friend suggested dipping fortune cookies in chocolate as favors - we decided to let the girls make their own. Each girl had a piece of waxed paper in front of them with their name on it, and when they were done making their treats we moved the papers to the counter to set, and then packaged them in their goody bags.
The girls said 'Oooh! Pretty!' which is always nice to hear. We had pretzels, marshmallows and gummy bears to dip as well - not many of those made it to the bags, though. ;)
Then we went outside to play Catch the Dragon's tail and Tsoo Tsoo. This was hilarious - and the girls were running around and giggling and having so much fun - a joy to watch!
Back inside for calligraphy. The girls tried to write their names in Chinese characters. I printed their names (from here) for them to work from. For 'ink' I just watered down some black acrylic paint that I had around (didn't want to buy a ton of black watercolors).
Next we had a chopstick relay. Princess picked out these red + floral chopsticks (which went into the goody bags to take home) from the local Asian market, and sorted through the pompom box for pink, red and white pompoms. The goal was to pass the pompoms from person to person down the line. This was pretty funny, as most of the girls couldn't hold chopsticks correctly - but they tried, or used two hands.
After opening presents, we decorated cupcakes. Now this part of the party was planned back in February, when I was in charge of a church cookie-decorating activity that ended up getting canceled. Instead of returning all the frosting, sprinkles, Valentine's Day (red/white/pink) m&m's, and red hots that I'd bought, I just kept it all for Princess' birthday - after checking all the expiration dates!
So, yeah, perfectly coordinating m&m's!
Each girl got their own cup of frosting and knife, little individual truffle cups for sprinkles, and shared the bigger cupcake liners (which held the m&m's and red hots). This is how I did the Valentine's Day cookie-decorating party for Thomas's class in February and it went really smoothly, plus I'm sure it was more sanitary, what with all the finger-licking going on.
I originally wanted to use take-out boxes for favors - as I'd seen them at the Asian market for cheap. But when I went back... of course they were out. I used these red lunch-type bags instead, which ended up working great to hold their calligraphy and chopsticks. I was going to punch holes in the bags and tie them with strips of pink fabric but ended up scrapping that idea.
A couple of final notes - I loved this party. The girls had a ton of fun, and so did I. But I had a lot of help. Aaron took the day off so that he could help me set up and take the boys to the park for the first half of the party (they were surprisingly well behaved for the second!). My mom and sister came up to help, and were SUCH a help (worker bees!). Clearing the table between activities and setting up the next one, melting the chocolate, filling the bags, etc. Thank you!
We decided to have the party on a Friday afternoon, when all of the girls get out of school early. So the party was between meals. I didn't really feel like doing a whole meal - but if we had the menu definitely would have included eggrolls and stir-fry. This way I saved myself a lot of energy and money. And speaking of money, the entire party cost me less than $30. Rock on.