I love hosting parties. I think they are a lot of fun, and I would have a party every weekend if my budget would allow it, and the stress didn’t kill me.
As much as I love throwing parties, I haven’t always been great about getting them together and everything organized in a timely manner. But in this case, practice has made perfect, or at least close enough to perfect, that I want to share some of my tips with you.
I never thought I would be the kind of parent to throw an elaborate birthday party every year for my kids, but that’s exactly what I have done the past three years. Two years ago I wanted to throw a birthday for my oldest because it was right before my baby would be born and I wanted my oldest to feel special on his day. As it turns out we moved just a few months after his birthday and I was very glad we had thrown the party. Last year we had just moved in and my oldest started school and I wanted him to be able to celebrate with his new friends, and share in the excitement of living close to cousins again.
And because I love parties so much, and he does too, we threw another big party for him this year. Between last year and this year, I’ve got things fairly figured out and enjoyed the party much more this year.
1. Set a budget and Stick To It!
Last year we wanted to have a stress free party, and everyone else was having their parties at a venue, so that’s what we decided to do. We determined how many could be invited to stay within our budget and only made enough invitations for those children.
Well, then we realized we forgot a friend (or 4), and then siblings of friends wanted to come as well, and before we knew it, we had exceeded our budget by about $50. That’s not terrible, but more than we had wanted to spend.
Instead of the stress of going over budget again, this year we stayed at our house and brought the fun here. We rented a bounce house (with a coupon), made up a couple more games to go along, and perfecto, everyone enjoyed the party and I wasn’t stressed about extra money being spent. We ended up spending about the same amount as last year, but we had A LOT more friends come, so it was a big hit.
2. Set a theme and do some research
No, themes aren’t always necessary, but the planning is a little easier when you have some direction. Luckily, we live the age of pinterest, and every theme imaginable has been used for some party, and someone took pictures, and blogged about it, and posted those pictures for you to find. Themes help direct decorations, games, invitations, and even the type of cake. Once the theme is set, you can research on pinterest for games, usually you can find free printables or at least a link to order whatever party favors you need.
The theme for the party this year was football, so the invitations were tickets and I found this awesome site where you can use their templates FOR FREE and just upload a picture, customize the text, and print on your own printer. Super awesome for me, and now for you. There templates aren’t limited to just tickets, but they have lots of different types of templates for invitations and cards. Here’s the link…http://www.printwithmypic.com
3. Set a Schedule but be Flexible
The party can become derailed quickly (especially with so many munchkins running around) so it is best to have a schedule for games, presents, and eating. I have found it works best to save the eating and presents for the end of the party. Don’t overplan the games, keep them simple, but be flexible. The games might flop, or they might be a huge hit so don’t worry too much about planning down to the minute.
Have a couple of backup games in case there is a flop, but never feel like you have to play every game you planned, no one else will know you didn’t finish the agenda.
4. Ask someone else to be in charge of pictures
I’m always so involved in running the games and keeping everyone involved and excited that I forget to stop and take pictures. This results in a fun day that no one remembers, well, not as long as all that planning deserves. It works best to ask someone who knows how to take pictures to be in charge of getting some fun candids and maybe a couple of posed pictures. That way you can prove to your kids that you were a fun mom, once.
5. Don’t save anything for the last minute
I always think I can finish everything up on the day of the party. But Murphy’s Law always wins out, and I end up running around frantically trying to pull something together that throws my schedule completely out the window.
Get all the party favors ready a few days in advance. Make sure the cake is ordered, and someone else is scheduled to pick it up.
If you’re making the cake, make it the day before and keep it somewhere cool, the kids will never know the difference.
Have all the equipment for the games made, or purchased at least a week in advance, and try them out with the birthday guest of honor. You will be able to work through any quirks and gain a better understanding of whether or not the rest of the guests will enjoy the game.
Do you feel more prepared to tackle the huge undertaking of a birthday party? What tips and tricks do you use to enjoy this day? Do you skip birthday parties altogether? We’d love to hear the horror and hero stories about your days…