the Perfect Children's Birthday Bash
By April Taylor
Does planning your little one's birthday bash leave you feeling overwhelmed?
If so, you may be infected by the "perfect
birthday party bug." The symptoms may include,
but are not limited to: stress, an empty wallet,
and feelings of failure. New parents are especially
prone to infection but it is possible to build
immunity. I have found that setting realistic
expectations and careful planning are the best
The first step is to set a goal for your party,
and examine your expectations. Do you want to
throw a big bash for the whole neighborhood
or a small intimate party? If a big party is
a must, then be prepared to plan and delegate
some responsibilities to reduce stress. I recommend
smaller parties that include immediate family
members and close friends. This will help to
reduce the urge to create perfection. Regardless
of the size, having a well-planned party is
Purchase inexpensive three ring binders or
a divided notebook to use as a party planner.
It may be more work the first time around, but
as the birthdays fly by it will become a valuable
time saver. Use it to log the details in planning
each party, including listing important contact
numbers. Also, jot down ideas for future parties.
I find it easiest to plan a party around a
specific theme. It can be a color scheme, cartoon
character, or whatever catches your child's
fancy. A quick search on the web can be a treasure
chest of ideas.
Setting a budget and sticking to it will not
only save you money; it will also reduce stress.
It IS possible to have a great party that doesn't
cost a fortune, nor leave your child feeling
Find out what is most important to you child
and spend the bulk of your budget in that area.
Would your child be more impressed with a pile
of presents or a carload of guests?
After determining the size, theme and budget
for your party, its time to decide the best
location. Your theme itself may determine the
location but if not, you should carefully weigh
If your budget is a major consideration, consider
having the party at home. This is a great way
to create an intimate memory, and saves you
the extra work of lugging presents and decorations
to another location. On the other hand, home-based
parties can lead to stained carpets, cake on
the ceiling fan, and other such birthday sugar
When hosting at home keep your guest list in
proportion with the size of your home. There
is nothing more stressful than having more kids
than space. Public parks, swimming pools, bowling
centers, skating centers, malls and fast food
restaurants are often kid friendly locations
for parties. The cleanup is often less involved
than a home party.
I start my parties with a few games, kid friendly
foods or non-sugary sweets for snacks, and then
move on to gift opening, followed by cake and
ice-cream and more games. This keeps the sugar
rush contained toward the end of the party.
Arrange your schedule to best fit your goals,
and be certain to jot it down in your party
planner. Keep a list of party games and directions
in your planner and always have more games than
you think you will need.
When it comes to decorations and favors it
is easy to get overwhelmed and overspend. Just
keep it simple. Try paper plates, cups, and
plastic wear to make cleanup a snap. To keep
you budget under control check your local dollar
store for these items as well as inexpensive
party decorations, wrapping paper and party
It is important to plan and to have a schedule
but don't become a slave to it. Expect the unexpected
to happen and the best way to deal with it its
to laugh. Birthday bloopers make great memories!
Just ask my kids to tell you about the birthday
party where we all ate cake and ice cream with
our fingers. Birthday parties don't have to
be perfect to be a blast!
April Taylor is free lance
writer, independent party consultant, and mother
of four. Her less stress party planning ideas
and consulting have evolved over years of trial
and error with her own children's parties. She
may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org