This has been a hectic prep week. My daughter turned four a few weeks ago and now that we’ve had a breather from the holidays it’s time to celebrate her birthday. As a kid, my parents always had parties for me. Sometimes I’d just have friends over, other times we’d go out for pizza, and one time they took all of my friends to see a play of Pinocchio. These days there are even more fun things to do.
I want Lilah to feel special on her birthday! What she wants most of all is to have her friends over to our house. She’s comfortable there and can be herself. I love a good party, so we decided to make it adult friendly too. After all, this is a chance for me to meet many of her friend’s parents.
So what do I need to plan for?
How many kids?
My daughter would invite her whole school. Obviously that is not an option so I let her choose 4 (her age) from her current school. If some cannot make it then we will add more. We kept the number down since she also has past school friends, family friends and the like.
Somewhat dictated by the number if kids/adults. You can have parties at gymnastics centers, pizza places, the park, or just about anywhere these days.
Some parents just want the party to last a couple hours while others are up for something longer. We’re having it at our house and we’re inviting the adults so we’re leaving it open ended. Note: Don’t start your party during nap time if your child or their friends still nap.
Use Internet or hand out invitations? At Lilah’s school you can leave invitations with the child’s name near their sign in/out sheet. I put copies of our Evite in an envelope with a hand written note asking them to contact me if they’re interested in attending.
What is the theme (if any)?
Lilah is not girly girl and most of her friends are boys. She chose a CARS theme but also liked Diego and SpongeBob. Princesses, pirates, cowboy, safari, and beach parties are all fun too. Some parents go all out with balloons in theme shapes, pinatas and other decorations to match. If you’re keeping it more casual then some plates and napkins with the theme is more than enough.
Entertainment: To jump or not
Absolutely (weather permitting) – For me there is no getting out of a jumper/bouncy house since she requested this last year (and throughout the year). Most rental companies have panels that fit into the jumper that can match your theme. Sometimes getting a smaller bouncy house with a slide can be more fun for the younger kids. No room or bad weather? Try a party game – though pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey was all the rage when I was young, there are many modern options. Click on the (party games)
link for ideas.
Many people have prepared goody bags in advance. I find this difficult to do if there is a wide age range of kids. I’ve had enough parties that I can take left over goodies and add new items such as balls, cars, rings, bracelets, etc. I put them in a big bowl with a goody bag next to it. Each child can choose what they like. This helps too because the parents are part of the process.
Kids just want cake but adults like to be fed (if you want them to stick around for long). Luckily, my husband is always willing to grill up some hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, and veggie burgers. Pick up some potato salad and chips and you’re all set. Either provide some single serving low sugar juice boxes, bottles of water, or chocolate milk or make-up a large batch of whatever you like and have cups handy.
Whatever makes the little one happy! Some like cakes, others like pies. I may try a ’pull apart cake‘ – the tops are cut off of cupcakes, they are decorated as one cake but you can pull the separate cupcakes out so there is no messy cutting and serving.
You won’t walk far in our house without tripping over a toy. We requested no gifts on her invitation. Some will bring them and we’re happy to get them but their presence is present enough.
The Birthday Girl
All that matters is that your child feels special on their birthday. It doesn’t take much. The party is the setting but it’s their friends and family that matter most. Make sure that you enjoy yourself too. You shouldn’t make yourself so stressed out that you can’t play alongside your child.
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