You hear it all the time: give a baby a toy, and chances are he'll end up playing with the box it came in. I thought that went away by, like, age three. By that time kids have wised up, and they can't wait to tear all the cardboard and plastic off and get to the good stuff.
Actually, it turns out that even big kids like those boxes.
Today the kids invited some friends over for the afternoon for a special sort of playdate. I had been given a boxload of Zhu Zhu pet hamsters and playsets by Mom Select, so the kids and I set out to throw a fun Hamster Pet Party with creative crafts, fun activities and yummy food.
As soon as each guest arrived, they got to choose their very own Zhu Zhu pet to play with and keep. Zhu Zhu pets are furry little hamsters that scoot up ramps, scurry around corners, and make the most adorable sounds you've ever heard. Oh, and they're battery powered, so I figured none of the parents would mind if their child took home a new pet. Along with the Zhu Zhu pet, I gave each child a goody bag with teeny little pet costumes that I had made the week before -- girls got hamster tutus, boys got hamster pirate hats, and everyone got hamster superhero capes. Oh, the cuteness! Our house was filled with squeals of delight -- no, not the hamsters', the kids'.
I prepared a hamsterrific lunch consisting of Ham(ster) Sandwiches, Hamster Kibble (cereal and veggie sticks), cherry tomatoes, and brownies shaped like hamster faces. I think The Pea's little hamster, NumNum, couldn't wait to dig into those treats, but the kids barely touched the food because they were having way too much fun.
I connected all the the Zhu Zhu hamster playsets together to make one giant hamster run, and set it up in the back yard so their hamsters could run through it (By the way, in case you're wondering, my kids' friends don't really have stars for faces -- I stuck them onto this photo, and onto subsequent photos, to protect their privacy).
I set up a craft table with tiny straw hats, and the kids had a great time decorating the hats with ribbons, flowers, beads, and other embellishments.
Here are two models, all decked out in the latest fashions.
Earlier in the week I had made a hamster maze out of some cardboard boxes because I was afraid that the hamster run would get way too crowded with so many excited kids. I thought it would be good to have an alternative (albeit uglier) place for the kids to put their hamsters in, to minimize the pushing, shoving, and "So-and-so's hogging the hamster wheel!". My kids got in on the fun -- 3Po and Jammy constructed a hamster skate park, and The Pea made a fun house with a bouncy house, styrofoam chip pit, and fashion runway.
The extra hamster runs were a great idea, if I do say so myself; the kids loved our homemade structures and played with them just as much as -- okay, maybe a bit less than -- the real Zhu Zhu hamster run.
And a funny thing happened on the way to the hamster wheel. Once everyone tired of the hamster runs, they looked at our homemade cardboard structures and got inspired to create their own. I had to keep going back to the recycling bin to dig out cardboard box after cardboard box. Armed with boxes, scissors, masking tape, markers and stickers, the kids made hamster bedrooms, houses, apartment complexes, subway trains and airplanes.
The cardboard boxes were the hit of the party. It didn't matter that their creations didn't look as perfect as the Zhu Zhu hamster run, that masking tape was sticking up everywhere, that their buildings had shipping labels and pictures of granola bars and yogurt tubes and cereal on them. In an age filled with electronic toys, it was heart-warming to see a bunch of children spend the whole afternoon playing with cardboard boxes!
My only problem now is what to do with the cardboard metropolis, a.k.a. Hamsterville, that's sitting in my back yard.
You can read my review of the Zhu Zhu Pets and their playsets on Bonggamom Finds. Or just feast your eyes on the little darling in purple and say, Awwwwww. Oh, yeah. The hamster's cute, too.