If you have a young child between the ages of 3 and 10, chances are you spend practically every other weekend at a birthday party. The birthday parties of today are a tad more spectacular than the McDonald Land parties of our youth. I am in awe of the gigantic list of venues one has to choose from when looking to entertain 10 – 20 munchkins. Anything from beauty parlors to horseback riding to amusement parks. Your child can really have just about any kind of party their heart desires!
However, there is something to be said about having a home party and being able to really make it individualized for your son or daughter. After living in a condo for more years than we planned and having no other choice but to rely on different venues other than my own home; I am excited to finally have the space to host my own parties! Does the thought of a home birthday party have you running for the hills? Here are some helpful tips to having a successful and special party for your little one.
1. Choose a solid theme and have fun with it. The very first thing I do when planning a party is choose a theme I can run with and start brainstorming food ideas, decorations and activities. If the ideas aren’t flowing, the theme is probably not the best one and might need some tweaking. Favorite children’s book series, the circus, a mini-carnival, and anything really interactive make for an entertaining party.
2. Skip the traditional party store “party in a bag” items. It’s much more practical and fun to use various household items to decorate for the party rather than spend the money on character plastic items that will get thrown in the garbage. For my son’s first birthday party, we did a Winnie the Pooh theme. I used terra cotta pots, gingham table clothes and made “wooden signs” out of cardboard. These details really helped our guests feel like they were in the 100 Acre Woods.
3. Know your guests. A party for a three year old should be fun for a three year old. This past weekend, we hosted a fairy party for my (almost) five year old daughter. I planned each activity with her current interests in mind. Did I look a little goofy as I lead a bunch of fairies all over my yard in search for the ingredients to a special fairy potion? Absolutely. But the excitement on their little faces was well worth it!
4. Keep the guest list small. This is the rule I break often, simply because I don’t want to leave anyone out. Truth be told: one of my favorite parties I attended had just five guests and it was the perfect size! I look back to my daughter’s two and three year old parties and feel that she was a little overwhelmed by all the people there. If you can, try not to invite the whole neighborhood. The more intimate the better.
5. Get your kiddos involved. Your child will really take ownership in their own party if they help in some way. My daughter was a huge help in creating her fairy party. Some of the ideas she came up with were things I would never think of and the most special part of the event. Each night we also worked on special projects for the party together: preparing the craft, wrapping up the goody bags, and even making bubble wands out of pipe cleaners and beads. These moments will be special memories the two of us will share in years to come.
6. It’s the little things that really make the day! One of my least favorite things about having a party at a venue is that there isn’t much time to make it individualized to your child. Those parties are like well-oiled machines and they don’t really want or need the parent’s input to make it unique. I was once in their shoes when I lead three parties a day at a craft place in NYC, and I fully understand. But I live for making things unique and special for my child, and celebrating who they are at that particular moment in time. I love making a playlist on my iPod that embodies their current musical interests or including an activity that spotlights a current interest or plaything. My favorite part of my son’s Winnie the Pooh party was the Hip-Hip-Hooray birthday parade leading everyone to the table for cake as we held him up in the air.
7. Secure reliable, affordable vendors for favors and other various items. I LOVE Amazon. They are the first place I go to look for things I need because they often have the best prices and sell in bulk. My other favorite places are Walmart, Dollar Tree, and Jo-Ann Fabrics for different types of decorations or craft items. I especially loved doing business with the online company, Dress Up Wholesale, for this past weekend’s party. If you are in need of anything girly (think wands, tutus, barrettes, etc.), order from them without hesitation just be sure to give plenty of time as they are a smaller company!
8. Google it! If creativity is not your thing, don’t sweat it. There are a ton of people on the internet that are creative and love to share their ideas with you for free. That little place called Pinterest can be your best friend as you set about planning your child’s special day. You can even find templates, free printables, and DIY tutorials for decorations just by googling your theme.
Hopefully these tips have inspired you to host your child’s next birthday party and perhaps you have some of your own to share in our comments box. Happy planning!