With 5 kids, I’ve thrown more than my share of kid’s birthday parties. Some have been over the top and others simple, low-budget affairs. What I’ve learned is that spending a lot of money doesn’t necessarily make for a great birthday party. What makes a birthday party, “The best party ever!” is how well I plan for it.
If your little one is getting ready to celebrate a birthday, here’s a party planning guide to help you.
1. Pick a theme
Most kids have something very specific in mind so ask them. Don’t worry if the idea is beyond your party budget because you may still be able to use it as inspiration. Popular themes include sports, swimming, Lego’s, superheros and princesses.
2. Select a venue
Having a backyard birthday party is one great option. For sports, skating or swimming parties consider local sports centers or parks. Also look for local venues that host parties like the Lego Store, Monkey Joe’s, Chuck E. Cheese, Build-A-Bear, jewelry making stores and amusement parks. Be sure to visit the venue in person and get all the details like the price to add on a guest and what foods you will be allowed to bring in.
3. Send the invitations
Be sure to pick a date and time that will allow the most important guests to attend (family members and best friends). Send out invitations 4 weeks in advance and be sure to include the date, time, address of the location, and any other important information. If your child is going to hand out invitations to classmates be sure to ask the teacher about school policies. If you aren’t inviting all of your child’s classmates, ask the teacher to slip the invitations into backpacks so there aren’t hurt feelings.
4. Make goodie bags
If you are looking for affordable options, homemade goodie bags are always less expensive than the prepackaged ones. One way to minimize the cost is selecting one more expensive theme item and then filling the bag with candy, pencils and other low-cost items. Homemade goodie bags can cost as low as $2 each!
5. Plan for food
If your party is anywhere near lunch or dinner time, parents will send hungry kids. The #1 option for kid’s parties is always pizza. It’s easy, inexpensive, everyone likes it, and you can get delivery. Many parents stay to watch the party so it is always nice to provide beverages and snacks for them as well.
6. Plan a full schedule of events
Birthday parties that are full of activity are the most fun. If you choose a local venue that offers parties you shouldn’t have any problems with bored guests. If you have the party at your home plan activities and have backup activities ready to go. Don’t assume the kids will make their own fun.
7. Prepare your child
It is well worth your time to talk with your child about proper “Birthday Boy” or “Birthday Girl” behavior. This should include manners for opening presents, the importance of including everyone in the fun, and other expectations. Trust me, this conversation can save you a lot of embarrassment!
8. Thank you cards
A great time saver is purchasing thank you cards before the birthday party. To make things really simple use an online printing service to design thank you cards from Polka Dot Design, complete with a pre-printed message. All your child will need to do is add the guest’s name and sign. Just think, you’ll be one of the few parents who manages to get those thank you cards right out in the mail!
Try to plan ahead and simplify what you have to do during the party as much as possible. Think twice before making elaborate foods or the cake yourself. Plan ahead so you can play with the kids, snap pictures, and really enjoy this huge milestone in your child’s life.