Kids’ birthday parties have a bad rap. Many parents say birthday parties are too stressful to plan and too expensive to host. But if you ask any child how they want to celebrate their special day, most will opt for playing (or spending time) with their friends. What matters most to them is that they get to celebrate their birthday with their friends. If that’s the case, parents can focus on the guest list, activities and the cake, and forget about balloons, pizza-in-a-box and plastic trinkets.
Start planning early
Approximately 4-6 weeks before the party date, determine who you will invite, where you will host the party and what activities will keep the kids entertained. The extra time will allow you to secure a venue and/or entertainment.
Include your child
Ask your kids how they want to celebrate their special day. Some children have definite ideas, others change their minds often. Regardless, it’s good to get their input; it facilitates your success!
Limit the guest list
The rule of thumb is to invite 1 your child’s age. Admittedly, that’s not always practical, especially if you have a very social/active child, but it does make sense. Even the most extroverted child would eventually melt down from celebrating with too many people!
Stick to one activity
If you only implement one strategy, it’s this one! Kids—younger ones especially— change their minds constantly. Last week, they loved Dora; online slots today, they love Fairies and two weeks from now, they’ll roll their eyes at you because dolls are for babies. To play it safe, decide on an activity or type of entertainment, e.g., ice skating, swimming or magic and then proceed with a theme closer to the party date. This one strategy will save you multiple trips to the party supply store!
Splurge on a cake!
Once you’ve finalized the guest list and secured entertainment, then you may order the cake … and since you’re not driving yourself crazy with decorations, food and goodie bags, you can splurge on the cake! Again, involve your child in the ordering process, incorporate their theme and make it the centerpiece of the party. After all, your child will feel exceptionally special surrounded by all of his/her friends as they sing “happy birthday” (as well as “cha-cha-cha, kumbaya, hi-ya!”)
Again, birthday parties should be special, not stressful, celebrations. The key is to focus on a few meaningful details to avoid losing your mind!
Ashleigh Dorfman is a certified special events professional and owner of posh productions, LLC, an event management, marketing and consulting firm specializing in corporate, not-for-profit and personal celebrations. She lives in Reston, VA with her husband and three children. firstname.lastname@example.org