Host Your Child’s Birthday Party with Ease!
You Say It’s Your Birthday
It’s that time again…your child is about to celebrate another birthday! God be with you as you endeavor to host a party in honor of another year of life for your little one on this planet. Don’t be afraid to plan, facilitate, and recover from this party all by yourself. You can do this. You can stay on budget while throwing an amazing celebration. You can please your child without having to cater to his/her every whim. Heck, you can even enjoy attending the event personally, with these easy steps.
Let’s start at the very beginning. First, choose the date, time, and location of the party. No need to buy a single supply or extend a casual invitation until you know the when and the where of your event. Look at your work, school, church, extracurricular, etc. schedule) to find the least stressful day and hour to host this event that your guests are most likely available to attend. Don’t forget to keep school breaks, recitals, overtime hours in mind. You want to pick something that won’t catch you when you’re already exhausted from other commitments. Just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the party too.
Cut the deck.Consider whether you prefer hosting at your home, or at an offsite location. Both options have their pros and cons. Weigh them (see example) and decide.
Not sure? You can also choose the best of both worlds…try a park. Keep the party madness out of your house, but bring your own food and have a playground at the ready. Most even have a pavilion you can reserve for no fee to use as a gathering area.
No site fees
Entertainment included (e.g. roller skating)
No headcount minimum
Food/refreshments catering options
More time to set up/ clean up
Someone else sets up/cleans up
Fewer entertainment fees
Would you rather have your party catered or do it yourself?
Choose a theme. This step is important, but also pretty simple. Just ask the birthday boy/girl what they want. Hopefully, they desire something feasible. If not, try to meet them half way. If they want all their friends at Disney World, counter offer hosting a Disney themed event at your house. But usually they are pretty reasonable. If they can’t think of a theme, offer some ideas, like beach, carnival, pirate, superhero, or rodeo. Nothing sounding good? Visit a party supply store and you’ll have ideas in abundance. The key is, the birthday boy/girl should be excited about the kind of party you’re about to spend your time and energy creating.
Create and send your invitations. You can plan, shop, etc. as your guests decide if they will attend or not. To do so, they need time to consider your invitation, I recommend delivering them two weeks before the event so they have time to RSVP (confirmation that they will or will not attend) without forgetting a date too far in advance. Note: if your party has to conflict with another important date (e.g. a holiday weekend) allow three weeks for guests to consider attending.
Cut the deck. Are you making the invitations to perhaps save money and definitely exert your own creative ideas? Or are you buying a pack of themed invitations? Convenience vs. cost and effort…again, it’s up to you! Important: save your sanity by including an RSVP deadline and your best contact info. Then you don’t have to wonder if people will show, and you have time to follow up with them if they don’t RSVP.
Get ready, get set, plan! You have your theme, now brainstorm the event. Visualize the time together with your guests. What do you need… to decorate, to entertain, to feed, to have fun? Will there be music playing or an artist performing (e.g. magician, face painter)? Do you want to have crafts, games, contests? Make sure your ideas will work for the children’s ages. Sometimes fancier isn’t fun for youngsters…think like a kid! A platter of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and juice boxes might be perfect for younger guests. Do you have a friend who can make balloon animals? For older kids, why not a jewelry making station, or a mini golf trip.
Don’t forget the basics:
- Food & drinks…and therefore plates, cups, napkins, utensils
- A cake, or pie, or whatever the birthday girl/boy likes
- Favors or goody bags
Important: don’t let your budget or your time and energy levels hold you back. Very few of us out there have unlimited resources to host parties. Find creative ways to do what your child wants while not breaking the bank or your back.
Can’t afford a roller skating party at the local rink? Locate the party at your local (& free) skate park.
Don’t own a swimming pool for a pool party? Reserve a group rate at the community pool, or host at a splash park.
Don’t have time to create carnival games, food, activities? Venture to your local arcade for cotton candy, clowns, token games, bouncy castles, etc.
Don’t have the stamina to host dozens of party guests? Counter offer a sleep over with far fewer guests and a pizza delivery.
Shop creatively. Do you really need that life-size cardboard cutout decoration for $50? Why hire a DJ if you can hook your MP3 player to speakers and hit “shuffle?” Oriental Trading Company or the local dollar store has fun favors in bulk so you can even buy for future parties or school events. If you really want plates and cups with characters’ faces on them, buy bulk napkins and utensils to even out that expense. Consider buying supplies to make the cake yourself. Use your computer to make banners and other decorations. Tie balloons closely onto furniture or walls so no helium is needed. Consider making the party your gift to your child instead of also buying items for them to unwrap from you.
Setup sensibly. Don’t wait until the morning of or even the night before to setup…unless you’re hosting somewhere that won’t permit setting up in advance. If the party’s at your house, start setting up for an hour or so each night starting the week before. That gives you more time to clean/tidy things, and decide just how you’d like the house staged for guests without rushing you to figure it all out in a few hours. Plus if you need a break, you have time to take one. Have your family help you! You can scrub the guest bathroom while your little one pick up all their toys in the rooms that the guests will spend the most time in. You can hang high flying decorations while your kids set out the plates, cups, and napkins. Then on the day of, all you have to do is perhaps grill up the burgers and hot dogs, or frost the cake you baked the day before. By the time you’re done, you’ll have hours to shower and dress for the party and get ready to greet your guests.
Time to party! Your guests have arrived. Your child(ren) are excited. Time for you to enjoy being a host. Make sure you have fun along with everyone else. If guests’ parents offer to stay and help, take them up on their offer. Make sure to have your camera ready to capture those memories! Don’t forget to eat and drink your refreshments so you don’t get tired. Try to sideline any last minute stress about anything you may have forgotten over not finished in time. You did your best and that is wonderful! Play with the kids and socialize with the parents. Don’t be held up in the kitchen working yourself to a frenzy.
Stay cool! Don’t sweat the small stuff that might go wrong. Did the helium balloon fly away accidentally? Tell any kids who saw it not to be upset because that means someone else will get to enjoy them now. Maybe have some extra, blow up balloons at the ready to scatter about the room. And if disaster strikes, have a back-up plan to keep the party on track. If someone bumps the table knocking your cake to the floor, have another parent keep watch while you jet to the grocery store for a quick fix from the bakery. Is it starting to rain on your pool party? Move the group inside, turn on a movie to give you time to set up some crafts or games (remember charades…group fun with minimal prep needed).
After it’s all said and done, your party will be a success that will leave your child happy and you feeling like a superhero!!! Clean up from the party with a smile as your child talks with you that instant about what they want for their next birthday party.