Birthday parties are a great boost to any child's self-esteem. Making them feel like a queen or king for the day is one of the best (and most lasting) gifts you can give them. But where and how should you start?
ThemeMany parents feel more comfortable starting with a theme around which they can organize invitations, decorations, games, crafts and food. Both you and your child will enjoy making plans that reflect her interests. I can't wait to share some of mine with you!
Guest List and InvitationsTime to make the lists (make sure you set a limit before you start your list). The invitations can be either store-bought or homemade and should set the mood for the event. In addition to obvious information like the time, date and directions, include special details like "bring a swimsuit" or "parents should accompany children."
PlaceIf you decide your home or apartment isn't suitable for a children's party, there are several off-site options that come with obvious advantages (including being able to come back to a clean home after the children have been picked up).
DecorationsAtmosphere is everything. Once you've chosen a theme, use a little creativity to set the scene. Kids are naturally imaginative; they'll play along when you use simple household gadgets to transform your home.
EntertainmentDepending on the ages and attention spans of your guests, outside entertainment could be a big hit. But younger children (those under four or five) may be frightened or just plain bored by a performance that goes on longer than 45 minutes.
Organize HelpDon't go it alone. Everything will be much easier if you have help — a spouse, relative, neighbor, babysitter or friends who can assist with activities as well as serving and cleanup. This is especially important if you will be entertaining young guests whose parents drop them off.
Food and CakeFor brief parties, cake and ice cream is really the only refreshment you need. Older guests may actually enjoy preparing the food as much as eating it, so consider substituting cooking for a craft. We always try to tie in food to our theme. It is important to always make sure your guests have something to eat and drink even for short parties.
Control ExpensesYou don't need to spend a lot of money to have a successful party. This is a party for your child and her friends — not for other parents. Controlling expenses also means that you should not feel obligated to send home goody bags full of expensive toys. While some stickers or a craft make nice souvenirs, most parents agree that it's time to start saying no to elaborate party favors.
Dealing with SiblingsIt's the birthday kid's big day but that doesn't mean you can ignore her brothers and sisters. While you may want to arrange for siblings to go play at another friend's house, many kids don't want to miss out on the action at home. If that's the case, allow the sibling to invite one special friend. They can either play in another room or help out with the party (as coat-takers, present-collectors, guest-greeters, or waiters).
I look forward to sharing with you a few of the parties over the years we have held for our daughter. I love party planning.