Face it; getting a group of kids together for a birthday party, regardless of age, takes a lot of finesse, quality thought and consideration, time, and sometimes a lot of Tylenol (maybe not). Some people have a real knack for party giving and appear to handle it with ease while others escape barely by the skin of their teeth. Those that appear to tackle any size birthday party, regardless of age of child do so because they have mastered the skill of organization and must have nerves of steel.
However, for those of us who have not quite mastered the organization nor achieved the nerves of steel, here are some tips that will help your next birthday party go without a hitch.
You are creating a birthday party for your child. Unless it is a surprise party, you should always involve your child in the party planning and preparation stages. This gives them ownership of the party and allows them to get excited making it that much more of a memorable event. The anticipation for the grand day alone will keep them ‘pumped’ in helping to make sure everything that needs to be done is completed.
Of course, if it is a toddler party, although their input is great to get, their preparation for the event should be made to be age appropriate. Allow your child input on theme, location, menu, games, guest list, and decorations. All ages of children can help fill party favor bags and older children can help fill out invitations, and decorate.
The dreaded guest list; this is where you may have to step in and draw some boundaries. Younger children it is easier to compile a list of a few close friends and their children or a few children from your child’s daycare. Older children, if allowed, would invite their entire school. Know your limitations first. Ask yourself just how many screaming, laughing, loud, and rowdy kids can you handle at one time.
Give your child a ballpark number. (Word to the wise, shoot low first.) Give your child the least amount of kids you can handle comfortably. Say if your maximum is 10, offer your child 5 guest. Allow them to counter and if it gets up to ten you are still within your limitation range, yet they feel like they made the final call.
Keep in mind the ages of the kids being invited as well and how much help you will have when setting your personal limitations. Will adults accompany them or will you be on your own. If the birthday party is for a toddler, specify that an adult must remain with the child at the party. This saves you from having to be disciplinarian to a child who may be less then accommodating. A good rule of thumb with toddlers is to take their age and just add one and invite no more guests then that. Therefore, for a 3 year olds birthday party the most amount of guest you would invite would be four. The average party guest-list is eight children for children over the age of six so do not feel like you are shortchanging your child by not having more.
Keep in mind where the party will be housed at such as in the home, yard, roller or ice skating rinks, park, recreation center, public beach or swimming pool, laser tag or paint ball facility, sporting event, convention center, or a hotel. Some of these locations can be very expensive so you may want to consider the amount of guest per cost of location when giving an allowable head count.
Honestly, do you want to have an all day birthday party? Here is when you do get to pull in the reins and set a time limit for the blessed event! How long do you want the party to go on? Toddler parties are easy to put a time limited on. They tire quickly for the most part and other parents may have their child on a strict routine. So generally, an hour to an hour in a half is ample time for a toddler’s birthday. Kindergarten to 3rd grade can vary a bit more depending on the child personally. However, no more then 3 hours is needed o celebrate in a smashing style.
Again, here is a time to know your limitations and stick to them. Older children are going to think they want their party to go on all day and night. This is where you have the option of saying “Too bad, so sad” or again you can make a low bid offer and allow them to think they are getting more then you desired. Older kids love thinking they are one-step ahead of you. When they are adults, you can pass on the secret to them when they are planning their child’s birthday party.
Theme picking; Chapter Four will get into more depth of party themes however there are a few things to keep in mind before solidifying on one. For a toddler you can pretty much pick a theme by anything you see your toddler taking a special liking too. If they have yet to show any real interest in one thing or another you can bet what ever you choose will go over just fine. Discuss party themes with the birthday child.
Allow them to pick a few of their favorite ideas and you throw out a few ideas. Take each idea and write them down on their own individual piece of paper or large notebook card. This is where the brainstorming comes in. You and your soon to be guest of birthday honors will have to write down on each theme what you would need for decorations, food to follow theme, cake idea, game ideas and party favors as well as where the party will be located at. Once you get the basics written down, look at each individual them and pick out the top three themes if both of you had given three ideas.
Base your decision on your budget, ease of pulling off, as well as child’s enthusiasm, within reason of course. From the top three picks, relook at supplies needed to pull it off as well as location and see if there is anything that cannot be accommodated.
If all of them are within you budget and capability range, you can give your child one of two options; they can pick their favorite out of the three or you can throw them in a hat and let them pick that way. Once the decision is made, it needs to be final so make sure you are capable of pulling off any of the three given choices.
Keep the kids happy and active! Have plenty of games for the kids to participate in and keep the downtime to a minimum. Summer birthdays are much easier to plan outdoor birthday parties for to keep children actively involved, yet it does not mean in the winter a sledding party or an ice-skating party with hot cocoa cannot be done. There are also many games that can be played indoors that do not require much preparation and regardless of the time of year for the party, you should always have several backup games for the children to play.
Summer time you could be stuck with a rainy day and winter it could be too cold to go out. Chapter Six will give you a vast amount of game ideas for both indoor and out doors for varying age groups. Factor in approximately two games per hour of party minus time for cake and ice cream.
Make sure to have enough party game gifts that no matter if a guest wins or loses they will receive a gift. No one likes to lose and after all it is a party and you want everyone to enjoy it and be happy.
Always have a back-up plan. As mentioned in Tip 5, weather may not always permit the intended party plan. In these cases, you best have a great back up plan or be ready to see a very unhappy child on their birthday and a houseful of kids with idol hands. Have an alternate location picked out in advance if your home will not accommodate the entire guest at one time should the party be rained on or other situations arise.
Regardless always make sure food is mobile, and you have plenty of back up games up your sleeve! Do your best to readjust the party to new environment in a relaxed manner. Getting uptight will be picked up on fast and the young guest will react accordingly, which is never pleasant! As long as you appear to be having a great time, the guest will too.
Set your ground rules way in advance in regards to sleepovers. If the party was not intended to be a sleepover let your child know that once the party is over, it is over unless you agree in advance for a guest or two to remain through the night. You will be exhausted by the end of the party so again this is a great time to know your limitations. If the party’s theme is a sleepover, then set you ground rules first when making the party plans with your child.
Try to steer away from sleepovers for children under the age of ten unless you already know the children well. This will save you from the middle of the night wake ups by children who are not yet experienced in spending the night at someone home and having to return them or call a parent to pick them up.
Make a point to make the birthday child’s day a special event between the parent(s) and child. This is a great time to extend an extra act of kindness or steal a few special moments with the birthday child. Make their favorite breakfast and serve it with a sentimental card or a letter hand written to them telling them all the things that you adore about them.
Yes, you have put a lot of effort into making sure they have a fantastic birthday party but nothing can compare with that special time you sneak in on their special day to let them know they are worth it.
The famous Piñata that children of all ages adore so much comes with their own special set of rules to live by. Piñatas are great for a variety of parties and can be filled with practically anything, which makes them great for all age groups. With younger kids though, piñatas can become frustrating when they do not have the strength to bust it. Check to see if your piñata comes with an escape trap operated by a pull string. Litter kids can take turns pulling on the string until one frees the trap and the candy or toys come raining down.
Regardless of age of kids, make sure the piñata is big enough to hold enough candy to go around. You do not want anyone feeling left out. If there are some shy kids in the crowd, have some leftover candy used to stuff the piñata set aside to give them their own separate bag. Make sure you hang your piñata in a sturdy location and away from anything that could be broken by a missed swing. It is more fun to watch when the children are blind folded swinging aimlessly at the piñata. The children’s laughter is priceless.
Spin the blind folded child around a few times and then let them have at it. Set the amount of swings allowed in each turn. Start with the littler kids’ first working up in age and size as turn allows. Most importantly, keep the other children back when one is up to bat!
Do not be afraid to ask for help! You will need it. There is no way you can be in more then one place at one time. When it comes time to prepare the food, cut cake, serve ice cream or whatnot you will want to have someone who will keep the games going until it is time to settle to eat or enjoy some cake and ice cream. Some great people to consider in giving you a helping hand is friends, relatives, another child’s parent, favorite babysitter, or an older sibling.
Generally, you will find most parents of guest will be more then happy to lend a helping hand especially if you offer to return the favor. Do not be afraid to delegate out some of the responsibilities. You may think you are a super parent but tending to a flock of demanding children and still trying to keep the flow going can be rough no matter how much kryptonite you have under your belt.
Just like Santa Claus; use a list and check it twice, gonna make sure if you missed anything or not, because the birthday party is coming real soon! I love list and that is why you will find a handy party checklist coming yet in this chapter. Forgetting something can easily break the party and unbelievably yet true, there have been more occasions then you could imagine were the host has forgotten to pick up the birthday cake or in the mix of all the planning did not stop long enough to buy a gift for their birthday child. Trust me on this one, the list will save the day!
Have your camera ready and at your disposal at all times. Try to capture as many pictures as possible. Have other adults that are helping you also have a camera available to them as well to aid in catching shots when you are unable. Another great idea depending on the children’s age is to supply them each with a disposable camera at the beginning of the party. Allow them to take pictures in their eyes view as what they see as perfect picture moments. Have them all developed on disk and print for another tip that is yet to come!
Birthday parties are a great time to teach your child appreciation and great social skills. Discuss with your child prior to the party and remind the day of to make sure to thank the guest for coming and if gifts were brought, thank them for the gifts as well. A few days after the party, dependant on child’s age, sit with them and help them fill out thank you card to the guest for coming and gifts. This can even be done on your computer.
This would be a great time to use some of those great memory making moment pictures you snapped though out the party to make the thank you note even that much more special.
Memorialize the event. A picture may speak a thousand words but a picture story says so much more. There are numerous programs available, many that come on pictures you have developed on disc that allow you to make picture stories out of your pictures. You can add captions, voice inserts, and even music backgrounds into these nifty programs and they are easier to use then you think. You do not need to be no computer geek to make a memorialized picture story disc of your child’s birthday party.
This makes a great keepsake treasure that your child could have for life and pass down to their children. Think how great it would be if your special days had been captured on disc and your parent had taken he time to add caption, voice inserts, or even popular music backgrounds of the time, and you was able to view them as an adult. It would make for a great family tradition and something your child will treasure dearly as an adult. If that is still a bit to high tech, you can make a scrapbook.
Incorporate pictures from the birthday party, preparation list, theme cards made to decide what kind of party to have, pieces of the wrapping paper and ribbons the gifts were adorned, and add your own personal notations as to what foods were served, games played, and guest in attendance in the scrapbook. You can also add particular quirks your child had at that age, favorites and dislikes, accidents, bumps, bruises, and whatnots, much like you would in a baby journal. Either way, it will memorialize the day and the childs’ life and will make your child feel special on those days when you are no longer around to share those memories.