How To: Planning A Birthday Party For A Child
Birthday Parties Can Be More Fun When You Get To Wear A Costume!
Preparing for a birthday party can sometimes be a stressful process – especially for parents of picky children. Especially in today’s world of who can beat whom at the birthday party business. But hosting a party doesn’t have to be stressful if you just break it into some simple steps.
Step One - Planning the Theme
This can be the easiest – or the most difficult – step in preparing for the party. Talk with your child. Have your child help you with the theme – you want him or her to have input in the party. What interests does your child have? Is he or she into sports? A party theme featuring their favorite sport would be a hit. Does your son love construction sets? Tractors, front loaders and dump trucks might be something he would dig. Does your daughter love fairy tale princesses? Tutus and tiaras can make her feel like a queen. The party will be the most fun for your child as long as he or she can help in the planning.
Step Two - Plan the Guest List
Who do you and your child want to come to the party? Do you want it to be just family? Just school friends? A combination? How many guests do you want? A whole houseful or just a few? These are just a few of the questions you will have to ask yourself when planning the guest list. If you are going to invite school friends, make sure that you either invite the entire class, or give invitations privately so as not to hurt the feelings of children not invited. One of the best parties I ever had for one of my children included family and school friends – nearly 50 people were invited and showed up. My daughter had a blast and so did all of her guests.
Step Three - Plan the Decorations
Based on the theme of your party, you can plan your decorations. And remember, you don’t have to have expensive store bought decorations. You can make them yourself, have your child and his or her friends help, or buy inexpensive decorations at a dollar store. There are a variety of ways to decorate without spending a dime. But you could also go all out and spend as much money as you want. The options are endless.
Be creative. If your son wants a Hot Wheels birthday party, use inexpensive masking tape to map out a road and buy some cheap cars for guests to play with on it. If your daughter wants a Barbie party, use the Barbies that she probably already has and then use inexpensive pink and white tissue paper from the dollar store to make your decorations. For a Lego party, get into the box of Legos that you are always stepping on and create a “happy birthday” banner.
Step Four - Plan the Invitations and the Date
Since you now have a theme and decorations planned out, you now have an idea for the invitations. Again, you can go as expensive as you want and have them custom designed, buy them at the dollar store or create them yourself. It is always fun to let your child be a part of the process – especially if you are creating your own. The added bonus to making your own is that you can make it exactly the way you want it so it really is customized. If you are really creative you can use stamps and other scrapbooking supplies to make your invitations.
As for the date, many families will only celebrate birthdays on the actual day of the birthday. Others are a little more flexible and will plan parties up to a month or so before or after the birthday itself. If you are one of the latter parents, you have some decisions to make. Is your party going to be inside or outside? Are you going to have it at home or at some other venue? What time of day will you have the party? Most people don’t have morning parties, but will it be early afternoon? Late afternoon? Evening? Or will your child want a slumber party and you will go for the all-nighter? These are all things to take into consideration.
Step Five - The Cake
Yet another step that can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. If you are on a limited budget – or just want to continue your creativity – you can make your own cake. There are many recipes for just about any type of cake you might want to have. If you need some ideas, just look on Pinterest – there are literally thousands of ideas there. You can also go to Pinterest for ideas for the decorations on your cake – there is an idea for just about any interest your child may have. If you have more money to spend – or are like me and couldn’t bake a cake to save your life – you can order a cake for your child. Make sure you give the bakery plenty of time to have your cake ready in time for the party. If you order a cake, you have many choices, as well. You can get an “off-the-rack” cake and simply have your child’s name written on it, or you can have it custom designed to match your theme.
Step Six - The Day of the Birthday Party
On the day of the party, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get everything ready for the big day. This might be a few minutes for a simple party with store bought decorations or several hours if you are decorating using homemade decorations. Don’t forget to include time for things such as picking up the cake and any last minute items, such as ice cream or paper plates and plastic ware. Have your child help as much as he or she can. It will help with all of those birthday jitters and excitement.
As time gets closer to the party, make sure you and your child are dressed for the party. Don’t do this too early – especially if you want your son in that nice, cute little suit or your daughter in that frilly, fancy dress. You don’t want to get too messed up before greeting the guests.
Make sure you are ready at least a half hour before the party is supposed to begin. You need to be ready for those early arrivals – because there will be at least one. It might also be helpful to have a sign or something indicating that your house is where the party is at. If your home is especially difficult to find you might have signs pointing the way from a major intersection. (Do this if your party is at an alternate venue, as well.)
It’s always nice if your birthday child can be close to the door to greet the guests and to let them know where to place gifts and cards, and to let them know when things are happening. If there will be games, make sure you know all of the rules and have any prizes you may need for those games. Hopefully, before today you have made sure that your child remembers manners thanks the gifts and cards and for coming to the party.
Step Seven - The Cleanup
This can happen during the party – especially if your child opens gifts during the party. Have a trash bag nearby and throw away or recycle gift paper and gift bags as gifts are being opened. Make a list of the gifts and who gave them so that your child can write thank you notes after the party.
Cleaning up is always easier than decorating. Unless you are trying to save your decorations for use at another party, you can just tear things down and throw them in your trash bag or recycling bag. Make sure your child helps – even though it is his or her birthday, he or she still has responsibilities. If you start the cleanup soon after the last guest has left the party, it makes things easier. You and your child are still in “go” mode and, even though you may be tired, are still energetic enough to do the cleanup. If you put it off, it may never get done!
Planning a party doesn’t have to be difficult. If you include your child throughout every step you will not only have a great party, you will both have memories that will last a lifetime!
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