For most parents out there, planning out their child’s birthday party is a fun-filled task, whereas others just dread going through the stressful chore. Irrespective of whether you choose to host a small gathering with family members and close friends or host a large expensive kid’s party, it is extremely important for you to plan a birthday party that fits your child’s age and temperament, while taking your family’s budget and style into consideration.
Young children are typically found getting overwhelmed and rather over-stimulated easily. All of us have been to birthday parties where children were in tears over costumed characters, or a bit overwhelmed due to the sheer number of unfamiliar faces. For this reason, you need to take your child’s personality and preferences into consideration when planning a birthday party in which your child can be himself and have all the fun in the world. To make all this possible, you need to take certain steps to make sure that your child’s birthday party is an occasion of joy and celebration. Here are a few tips that will definitely help you out:
It is extremely important for you to get your child involved in the entire party planning process. If you have a toddler, he may just tell you the flavor of the cake he wants, but if your kid is a preschooler, there is a good chance that he would have specific birthday party ideas.
If you have a preschooler or an older child, make sure that you talk to him about a party theme if he wants to have one. You should also discuss with him things like who he wants to invite and where he wants to have the event. To keep him involved in the party planning, get him to create the invitation cards with you. If you choose to do this, get him to paint or draw on the cards, or get your older child to help make the invitations on a computer. Get him involved even when you plan things like the food, cakes and drinks etc. that you wish to serve at the party. In case your child wishes to have a theme party, it is best for you to buy or make snacks that go along with the theme. If you want, you can also get your child involved by baking the birthday cake or cupcakes together.
To keep your child involved, allow him to choose the theme of the party together with the activities. To get him to help with the invitations, have him or her draw on paper and color in the designs, cut out pictures and glue them onto blank invitations or place stickers on the cards.
Another element that you should take into consideration here is that of the number of children you wish to invite to the birthday party. If you plan on having a home party, it is best for you to limit the number of children unless you have a large house and a garden. However, if you want to have a huge celebration and plan on inviting his entire class, his pre-school friends and his other school friends, then it is best for you to use a party venue instead.
When planning out a birthday party for a young child, you should only invite a small group of family members and friends. Most people I’ve come across believe that the number of guests should be equal to the age that your child is turning. In case there is a need for you to reciprocate for other kids’ birthday parties that your child may have attended, try reciprocating with a fun play date. Also, if there a need for you to include extended family, then just have a children’s party and then hold a family party or pot luck. Moreover, give due consideration to inclusion. If you wish to host a large birthday party, then either invite the whole class or don’t give out invitations at school. In this case, send out invitations via email or post.
Decide on a time
If you plan on inviting kids under the age of seven years, then it is best for you to stick to having a morning party so they can tire out by the afternoon and their parents will be able to get them to bed early that night. The best part is that having a morning party will allow you to clean up everything by 2pm at the latest, thereby giving you ample time to rest too.
In case you wish to hold the party at your home, it is best for you to ask your child to recommend a few themes for it. These could be character-based themes or even generic themes such as princesses or pirates. Some of the most popular themes include:
Also, if you plan on having the party at a venue, the venue will offer a choice of different themes to you. There is also the chance that they will have several party rooms with varying decorations.
When working on birthday party plans, relax and try to forgo your complicated party plans. The best thing for you to do is to think of what your child is interested in doing and grasp all the simplest possibilities to celebrate his birthday. This obviously means that you should select a simple theme as well. Just tap into your experiences and resources to make this day as special as you can and tailor it to your child’s favorite things while keeping it simple. The theme you and your kid choose can be as simple as his favorite sport, favorite color or even an activity or character that he likes.
Keep it realistic
When you decide on a theme, make sure that it is realistic. Having a color party is extremely easy and the boys are going to love being part of a sports party – chances are they will already have the get up from the team they play for after school or on weekends. On the other hand, all the little girls will probably have princess dress up clothes that will help them attend a princess themed party.
It is vital for you to decide on birthday party ideas and activities on the basis of the age group of the kids that will be attending it. If you are inviting toddlers, then you should know that they typically enjoy simple party activities like playing with balls, giant cartons, water play, bubble or even a bit of colorful play dough with a variety of cookie cutters. On the other hand, preschool children are more inclined towards enjoying party games, simple movement and art activities. Whenever you plan these activities, make sure that your child is involved. Also, consider activities like mural painting, dance and freeze when the music stops or even a small cooking project.
If you plan on inviting kindergarten and elementary school children, then it will probably be best for you to have more elaborate party ideas and activities in mind. As long as your finances permit, consider setting up something like bowling or miniature golf. However, if you want to cut down on costs, consider something like a theme party where the kids can make puppets and perform a bit of a puppet show.
What about older children?
If you have an older child, then there’s a good chance that he may want to have a sleep over birthday party. Although you probably won’t get much sleep that night, you can rest-assured that having a sleep over with a small group will be a wonderful time for your kid and he will cherish the memories forever. So if this is something your child wants, let him go ahead with it.
Once the party has been planned out, you are now ready to send out invitations. If your child has chosen a theme, then make sure that the invitations are in line with the theme. Also, instead of buying invitations, consider making them by yourself with your child. Another option that is available these days involves downloading and printing invitations from different websites – this option is definitely worth it considering the amount of time it will save you.
If you choose a party venue, you may be offered pre-designed invitations to fill in. This is definitely going to make the task easier for you. While you are at it, make sure that the invitations are sent out at least two weeks prior to the party. Also, set a deadline for replies because you need to know at least a few days in advance how many children are going to come to the party. This is basically going to help you figure out how many children you or the party venue needs to cater for. Without a set deadline, people may reply late, which is going to make it harder for you to make catering arrangements.
Keep invitations simple
Hand-lettered or even printed invitations are amazing, but they would only turn out lovely if you and your child enjoy making them. You could also send out electronic invites using e-mail, thereby making ‘getting the job done’ much easier and quicker.
You need to bear in mind the fact that a few RSVPs are definitely going to get lost in the parenting chaos. For this reason, it is highly recommended for you to plan on having a few extra portions of food so that you don’t have to worry about any last minute guests.
When it comes to a kid’s birthday party, it is best for you to keep the food simple. For instance, you could prepare your child’s favorite dish and order pizza for the ease and convenience it offers in terms of cleaning up. Also, don’t forget to throw in a few healthy foods like veggie and fruit plates. If you want to cook up a family favorite recipe, go ahead and do it. However, although this is going to be a nice gesture, don’t be too focused on it – you need to be focused on giving your kid the most special day possible and on giving him all the attention possible.
Throwing a party in no way means you need to serve an entire meal. Just a simple selection of self-serve snacks and drinks together with a birthday cake are enough for a perfectly festive food setup. As long as you set your party time between lunch and dinner, the expectations your guests will have will be fairly obvious. Other options that you have in this regard is to get your hands on a few cookie cutters and prepared flower- or star-shaped sandwiches and turn Jell-O into letters of the alphabets. If you have older children coming over, they can easily make their own English-muffin pizzas. But all in all, you should focus on serving food that doesn’t require much cutting and can easily be grasped by small hands.
A few strategies for the birthday cake
When you serve the cake, serve it to younger children first for the sake of instant gratification. If you can get cupcakes that would be wonderful considering that they would let you serve all the kids at once.
To be honest, your party shouldn’t really exceed the two hours mark. All through this time, it is necessary for you to keep the kids busy till the time that they leave. It is best for you to kick off the main event as soon as most of the guests arrive. As for food and cake, make sure that you serve it in the final half-hour of the party. As soon as the younger children start getting cranky or grow tired, it’s a sign that the party needs to end.
Now, if the guests are over 2 years old, they will definitely want a little goody bag. However, make sure that you don’t go out and spend a fortune on these – but at the same time, remember that you shouldn’t put in too many cheap sweets considering how dangerous these can be to a child’s health. So what should you put in the goody bags? Well, the best options in this regard are cheap plastic toys like replica animals, whirly windmills, magic painting books, plastic sun glasses and even glittery bangles are an amazing option.
Pack it well
Presentation holds utmost importance even among toddlers. For this reason, it is highly recommended for you to overlook boring packaging ideas and opt for ‘out-of-the-box’ packaging options. For instance, consider putting treats and presents in plastic each pails just to add to their excitement. Honestly speaking, no matter what you put in the goody bag, it is going to look so much better as long as the goody bag itself is a hit.