Spring is here which, for me, means Easter, April Fool’s (I just love pulling pranks on my two girls, especially because they never see it coming), and my older daughter’s birthday. She’s turning 14 this year and, although the parties have changed a lot through the years, it’s still important for me to find a way to celebrate her in an age-appropriate,
Here are a few of my time-tested party tips.
- Choose a theme– In my opinion, this is the most important part because it touches on all other aspects of the party. Sometimes your child will now exactly what they want and other times it may be easier to start with a color scheme and work from there. We’ve done a Spa Day, a Movie Première Night, a cooking party, costume parties, probably every Princess imaginable, BBQs, a New York Yankees party, a Luau, and this year will be a “Pjs and Pancakes” party.
Everyone dressed up, even the teachers, for my daughter’s Fancy Nancy party!
- Invitations– If you are at all crafty, here is your time to shine. Using a computer, pictures and simple graphics, you can create a one-of-a-kind invitation for your one-of-a-kind child. If that seems too daunting, choose some paper from a local invitation store (or on-line) that already has the graphics and just add the wording. Make sure the invitation reflects the theme, includes all pertinent info, and your cell number, just in case parents need to reach you on the day of the party when you’ll inevitably be running around like a crazy person.
- Venue– Often times, the theme and the venue go hand in hand. If you are hosting a small party, I love doing it at the house and keeping it as simple as possible. Other location ideas are~
Parks, beach, pool
Roller skating/ice skating
Kid-friendly restaurants (pizza places and ice cream parlors are great)
Birthday party places
For our Spa Party, the girls were treated like VIP’s with limo service from school to the party.
*Remember to consider the time of the year. If your child has a summer birthday and you are planning an outside party, make sure it is a water party or that the children will have an opportunity to go indoors at some point.
- Keep it small– when it comes to kids parties, the smaller, the better. Experts recommend one friend for each year of age so a seven year old’s party should be limited to seven friends. Now, we now this is not always possible, especially when kids are younger and there is pressure to invite the whole class. I’ve done both and I have to say, the birthday child really does enjoy the smaller parties more. They are surrounded by their intimate friends and really enjoy the interactions. Especially with girls, the child may feel pulled in different directions concerning who to play with and sit with and etc. The age guideline is just a suggestion but it’s a good place to start. If your child really has more close friends, by all means, include everyone, but try not to feel obligated to invite everyone.
- The devil is in the details– The tablescape is important so start planning early. The table should reflect the theme as much as possible. Make sure you have tablecloths (I always go with solid colors and chose fun plates and other table decorations). Here is where Pinterest is a Godsend. No need to reinvent the wheel when there are so many creative ideas ripe for the taking!
- Goody bags– Again, keep with the theme, if possible. Stay away from little plastic toys that parents will throw away as soon as their child is not looking. I’m doing slippers for the favor for my daughter’s party because it is a sleepover. Funky shoelaces, hair accessories, and nail polishes all make great favors (Sorry that this is all geared towards girls- it’s all I know!).
- The Cake…or not? Think outside the box~ ice cream cakes are always a hit, as are cupcakes, and I’m going to try a donut cake (idea found on Pinterest) this year. Don’t forget fun candles or even sparklers.
My daughter’s cake from last year
- Memories– Charge the camera and video camera (if you use two separate devices). If possible, put someone else in charge of taking pictures, as you’ll be busy managing the party and being the “hostess with the most-ess”. (A good girl friend comes in handy here, as this is not a favorite task of husbands. Maybe agree to be each other photographers for your children’s birthdays!)
- Music– No matter where the party is, good music always creates a fun atmosphere. When my younger daughter had a gymnastics party, I created a cd of her favorite songs that the gym could play instead of whatever music they had on hand. It’s an easy way to personalize a party experience and sure to keep the kids singing along to the songs they love!
I hope these tips help make your next birthday party planning a bit easier. Are there any tips you have learned along the way? I’d love to hear them!