By Jeremy Thompson
A birthday party is one of the events a kid looks forward to all year. It’s a day of fun, friends and frosting for them, but for parents, the looming prospect of a birthday party is viewed somewhat differently. There’s a lot that has to get done in order to throw a successful birthday party for your child, and almost all of it falls on your shoulders.
To make matters even more complicated, there has been something of an arms race in the children’s birthday party world over the last several years as parents throw more and more elaborate parties to outdo one another. As if it wasn’t enough to worry about whether or not your kids and their friends were having a good time, there’s pressure to worry about what the neighbors think, too.
However, planning your child’s birthday party doesn’t need to be a stressful experience, and it doesn’t even need to be all that complicated. As any parent probably already knows, a solid plan and a little flexibility are the keys to success when entertaining kids. Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind when planning a birthday party that will keep your stress level low and your “cool parent” status high.
Choose A Theme
This might be the easiest part of the whole process, but it’s very important. Your child probably already has a favorite hobby, movie, TV show or character that you can plan the party around, so make sure you get his or her input before you get started.
Invite The Guests
Most experts suggest the “age plus one” rule when determining how many of your child’s friends to invite, so if he or she is turning 7, try to limit the guest list to eight. Doing so will ensure you and the birthday boy or girl won’t be overwhelmed. When you send invitations, make sure you make any instructions clear. It might seem rude to say, “No siblings, please” on the invite, but other parents will appreciate that you specified. Also be sure to clearly state when the party begins and when you want it to end.
Pick Decorations and Favors
Having a theme already in mind will make this part easier. An inexpensive goody bag full of kazoos, rubber bugs, glow sticks, etc., is usually more than enough for guests. You don’t need to break the bank on decorations, either, as old-fashioned balloons and streamers are just as festive today as they were when you were a kid.
Set The Menu
This is one of the most important things you have to do when planning a dinner party or a cocktail party for your adult friends, but when you’re planning for a birthday party for your child, it’s all about the cake. Cake and ice cream are all you need, but pizza will be a big hit if you want to go beyond sweets. One thing to be aware of is the fact that many children have food allergies, so ask the guests’ parents ahead of time if there are any of which you need to be aware. Encouraging parents of children with allergies to bring their own treats has become common, as well.
Although it’s tempting to have a lot of games and activities going on to keep kids from getting bored, the truth is that too much stimulation will kill a birthday party just as fast. Plan for just one activity or game, or stagger them throughout the party schedule if you want more than one. In general, activities should be kept simple. Have kids make their own tie-dye T-shirts, go outside for a nature scavenger hunt, or hang a piñata for them to smack around for a little while.
Don’t Forget to Say Thank You
By the time the party’s over, you’ve put in a lot of work. However, don’t forget to take some time to thank everyone who came to your child’s birthday party, especially if they brought gifts. If your child is old enough, he or she should write the thank you notes. Sending emails or e-cards has become accepted practice, but handwritten notes are a surefire way to show your appreciation.
Jeremy Thompson is a born entrepreneur and Partner at Premier Glow. His many businesses include a DJ company, selling bubble gum and novelty toys.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.