Top Ten Tips for a Children’s Birthday Party
July 22nd, 2011
Today, I am pooped. I am getting ready to feed 24 people a 12 course dinner tonight, plus I may or may not have some insane tendencies towards craziness in the decor department which are keeping me busy. (I will be sure to post the pictures of this party as soon as I get them in case you are curious!) Sooooo, instead of posting you a recipe, (I can’t cook one more dang thing today) I am going to give you a new type of post and see how you feel about it: A Top Tip Post! (Please let me know how you like it) I have been contributing to a bunch of sites and magazines lately and they all seem to want my top entertaining tips. It occurred to me, that you, my lovely readers might be interested as well? (I know. I am moving and thinking in slow motion)
This Top Tip Post is about Children’s birthday parties, as I am getting ready to throw one for little Pia in a couple short weeks. But please tell me what else you would like to hear about that is entertaining related. (I have heard everything from a post on linens to more flower arranging and more crafts- let me know)
Also- In case you live in the Northwest, you can catch me this coming Monday (July 25th) on New Day Northwest (King5) in the 11 o’clock hour. I am doing a segment on summer entertaining, so tune in for party inspiration! If yo uare not in the NW, I will post it on my blog. I hope I don’t screw up.
Top Ten Tips to Throwing a Children’s Birthday Party!
1) Find a Theme
Like any party, picking a theme will help to create a fun and cohesive event. I like to run a theme through the invitations, decorations, and activities and of course the cake!
It is usually pretty easy to decide on a theme, as most children tend to fixate on one or two things at a time. For my daughter last year it was “Alice in Wonderland,” the year before that it was an Elmo/Curious George toss-up (George won). If you are not sure, just ask! I was told that this year it will be a “rainbow-fairy-princess-tea-party-birthday.” That is the beauty of children- they have wonderful imaginations, but it is our job to make it come to life!
2) Keeping the Kids Busy
It is so important to have activities and games planned! I would generally suggest at least one of each.
A clown, a reptile man, a fairy-princess, your husband dressed as a cowboy- whatever it is, a “performer” can keep kids occupied with an act, lizards and frogs, story telling, or simply to guide them through the games and activities.
Setting up an arts and crafts project is always popular as are the old standbys of face painting and balloon animals! I also recommend a good trunk of dress up clothes- that is sure to keep kids busy with make believe games. Little girls could spend hours changing princess outfits.
For slightly older children, scavenger hunts and piñatas are always a hit. If you want to splurge and have a big back yard- go for the bouncy house.
3) Cheap Thrills with Balloons and Bubbles
You can never have to many balloons at a child’s birthday party. I always feel like they are the ultimate symbol of a children’s celebration, and the fact that they are inexpensive, colorful and bring a smile to everyone’s face make them even better. Some fun ideas besides the standard “tie one on the gate”: Have the local balloon place make an archway (rainbow anyone?) for entering guests, tie a balloon at every child’s chair, or let them hang in mass amounts with curly ribbons from the ceiling.
Bubbles are a personal favorite, especially if the children will be outside. I own a cheap old bubble machine that has provided endless happiness for my own children. I stash it in the bushes near the front door, and the children (and adults) can see them from the street. It never fails that they are all dancing around in the bubbles within the hour. But the most basic (and inexpensive!) toy of all these days are a small container of soap and water and a bubble wand. So whether you want to make your own, or buy them at your local drug store- this simple combo will keep kids busy and happy!
This is an area where you should absolutely not feel pressured! But as children’s parties have become more elaborate, many feel that they should have a gift bag for all of the children at the party. I suggest simple items tied with a bow, (like the bubbles mentioned above) or letting your child help make an edible gift! I don’t know many kids that wouldn’t be excited to bring home a small bag of chocolate chip or sugar cookies! Also if you do an edible display (think candy bar) you can simply give children cellophane bags to fill and let them take that home as favors.
5) Birthday Cake
Whether you have a cake or cupcakes- there is no denying that this is the focal point of a kid’s party, so have fun with it! There are such incredible ideas out there now:
3-d designs, bakeries that will print a photo in a cake, and phenomenal cupcakes that you can make at home. Play with color, design and flavor to come up with the most exciting combination suited to your kid.
6) Kid Power
Children absolutely love to get into the spirit preparing for a party. They love to feel helpful and see what they can make themselves. My 3 year old helped me make paper flowers for her birthday party last year, and happily helped set the table and make the cupcakes- plus any other little thing I would let her do!
Let them help make the food, favors, decorations, whatever you can handle delegating and that makes them feel as though they have contributed.
Child involvement should also extend to thank you notes. I am a manners stickler, and any kid over the age of two should help to write or color on the thank you notes for their presents.
7) Edible Centerpieces and Decorations
I like to think of unique and fun decorations for the centerpiece at children’s birthday parties. I wouldn’t worry about fussy flower arrangements for kids, I would instead start thinking outside of the box! For a tea party, I love tons of funky colored teapots and cups. For an upcoming fairy party, I am thinking homemade wands displayed in canisters.
I also am a strong believer in the beauty of sweets, which are always a hit with the kids. Different sized containers filled with candy in theme colors are festive and delicious, plus they make an eye-catching centerpiece for a birthday table!
A kid’s party is the time to have fun! Use all of the things that you loved when you were a kid to decorate for the party: paper streamers and tissue flowers, paper chains and glitter. The whole point is that it be fun and appealing to children!
You don’t want children feeling sick by the end of the party because they have had too much sugar. The children will feel awful, and irritated parents and temper tantrums are sure to ensue! Make sure to add a few more nutritious snacks to the party. I will make things such as mini grilled cheese sandwiches cut into cute shapes to make them more appealing. I will also served cut vegetables with dip, but I will use “rainbow carrots” and the purple, orange and bright green varieties of cauliflower to make them more “fun”! Mini fruit smoothies decorated with cute embellished straws are another good way to sneak some fresh fruit into your kids.
9) Noshes for Adults
Adults will often stay for the party, especially if you have really small children. If you know that they are staying, it is nice to set out some adult appropriate snacks too, (otherwise you may find the dads clearing out all of the mini grilled cheeses!)
10) Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
A child’s birthday is so special and is always a reason to celebrate. I always remind myself that these are the moments that they will remember when they have grown and gone, so make them wonderful! Don’t stress out over the party, keep the mood light and festive, and try to keep the whole family involved and having fun!
**Please let me know about some of your top tips for children’s parties- I would love to hear about your ideas!