Screaming kids, cake mashed into the carpet, and mom hiding under the covers of her bed. Does this sound like the last birthday party you had for your child? Pull yourself out of your bed and chisel that cake out of the carpet. With a little planning you can make sure the next party is a success! It’s not hard to be the next super-mom on the block, I promise.
Time is key for successfully planning a stress-free birthday party. Don’t get me wrong, you can pull together a fabulous party in only a day or two, but your chance of needing a solo vacation afterwards will be very high. If you can, plan the party date no less than a month away from your initial starting point. This will give you enough time to think of a theme (if that’s how you roll – and I definitely roll that way) and order any supplies you might need. If you are having your party at a popular location, then your date might be limited to what they have available. Just remember that the more time you have to plan then the less stress you’ll feel.
Let’s talk theme a moment, since I’ve already mentioned my penchant for them. There are people out there who can plan the perfect event without a theme. Those people are like Big Foot to me. They might exist, there are pictures of their work out there, but I’m not entirely convinced it isn’t all a giant hoax. My brain shuts down at the thought of planning something without a theme to tie it all together. Your theme could be as simple as having your cake, decorations, and invites purple or as detailed as a pirate theme taking place on a real ship. The point is, if you pick out a theme (with your child, of course,) then half your work is already done. If simple is the name of your game and your child wants a monster truck party, then simply pick one of the dozens of truck themed party packages on the internet and you’ve take care of your decorations. Order a cake with of those plastic picks in the shape of trucks and your food is handled. Deciding on some games will take a little more effort, but with a theme in mind you can easily wade through the plethora of game and art activities online. Utilize any site designed for preschool teachers and then pat yourself on the back. You now have decorations, food, and games.
If you want something a little more elaborate (and I certainly don’t blame you -elaborate is my thing,) then keep reading. Activities are the number one make-it-or-break-it moment at a party. If you run out of things to do before the party is over then the kids are not going to care about how much money you spent on those hard to find Cookie Monster cake plates. All they’re going to remember is sitting at the table with their head in their hands. Boredom is not a good party game. Even if your child has picked the most obscure theme imaginable, you can usually drum up an idea or two from the internet on what to do. If not, party standards like pine the tail on the donkey, making paper masks, and hide and seek will fit any theme. It’s best to keep these as back-up plans as well, in case your guests zip through your activities faster than you had planned.
If you have your activities planned then you might be thinking that you want to serve more than just cake. Try to plan your party times so you don’t have to provide a full meal. Times between 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. work well because it is in between lunch and dinner. You can provide light snacks during this time, but remember that kids usually just want the cake so don’t go overboard. Chips and dip, pretzels, and veggies with dip are all good choices if you want to limit the amount of sugar being consumed. But don’t forget the ice cream! They’ll never let you live it down.
If you’re going all out on decorations and food, then you’ll need to decide if your budget can handle party favors. Some moms swear by them as a memento of the party, while others hate them simply because they tend to be filled with plastic junk that breaks quickly. If you are going to go the party favor route then I suggest staying away from the tiny plastic things and think of something that will be well used. Stay away from anything that is potentially messy or loud, unless you know the parents well and trust they won’t retaliate the next chance they get. This might take a little flexing of your creative muscle, but you really don’t want to spend money that will be tossed just because you feel you have to. If that’s going to be the case with you then it’s best to just give up the party favors altogether. But if you’re still gung-ho with the idea, and can’t think of anything creative to give away, then stick with the basics. A small paperback book is inexpensive and can be tailored to your theme. Crayons and a notebook are useful for any child, as are sheets of stickers. All of these would be far more welcome in a child’s home than an umpteenth pair of fake vampire teeth.
Now that you have every detail planned, how do you make sure it goes off without a hitch? Ask for help. No one expects you to run the entire party yourself. Ask a grandparent, friend, or a mom who’s child will be attending the party. You don’t need to give them anything particularly difficult, just asking them to cut the cake or scoop out some ice cream will take some pressure off you. Most people would be happy to step in where needed so don’t be afraid to ask!
Once you’ve planned out all the steps listed in this article and recruited a volunteer or two then there is no reason you should have anything other than a successful birthday party. The final word to the wise is to let things go. No matter how much you plan, something will always go wrong. Just let it roll off and move on. Nobody is going to remember that you forgot to buy the confetti for the table or that your cake was a little on the dry side. They’ll remember the fun they had during your well thought out party.
Kids are easy to please. Work that to your advantage and have a great time!