How to Plan a Fun Birthday Party Celebration for your Child

A growing child looks forward to his birthday because it often means one thing: party! For the busy mom, however, this could also mean countless hours of preparation and the dreaded stress that comes with planning. Here’s a guideline on how to efficiently plan your child’s next birthday party:

Set a Budget

Before anything else, determine how much you’re willing to spend for the party. Allocate a budget for every aspect, such as the venue, food and drinks, party favors, and entertainment. Try to stick with the budget as much as possible to avoid overspending and purchasing unnecessary items.

Pick a Theme

Sit down with your child and ask him for ideas. He may have a favorite cartoon character or superhero that you can use. You can also make a list of all possible themes and ask him to pick one. From there, you can decide on what decorations to get and party favors to give away.

Choose a Venue

Children can be rowdy, especially when excited, so make sure there’s enough space for the little guests. If the party is going to be held at home, outline a perimeter with balloons and other decorations. Close the doors to the bedroom or study, and temporarily store away breakable items (like large glass vases or delicate decorative china) to avoid accidents.

Consider looking into an off-site venue, such as the park, zoo, or clubhouse. This way, you won’t have to worry about your home being left in disarray after the party. Just make sure to bring garbage bags for clean-up. It’s always advisable to have a back-up plan (like moving the party indoors, if it’s an outdoor party), in case of rain or other inconveniences.

Draw up a Guest List

The guest list largely depends on how big or small the party is going to be. A good rule of thumb to follow is to invite as many kids as your child’s age, plus one. Say, for instance, the celebrant is turning eight years old, then you should invite nine kids. Of course, this rule isn’t set in stone so feel free to invite as many guests as your budget allows.

If you’re inviting classmates, you may want to include everyone so as to avoid hurt feelings. If you’re on a tight budget, however, it’s probably best to invite his best friend and a few of his closest friends in school.

Arrange the Invitations

You can either purchase ready-made invitations or make them yourself. If it’s going to be a big party, it might be better to buy invitations in bulk to save on time and effort. You can also search for templates on the internet and print them out. Alternatively, you can go the paperless route and send electronic invites instead.

Give out the invitations at least two weeks before the actual event. This will give guests enough time to prepare; whether to work around their schedules or come up with a costume, if it’s going to be a themed-party. It’s a good idea to ask them to RSVP so that you’ll know how much food and drinks to prepare.

Create a Menu

At parties, kids rarely pay attention to their food, what with all the excitement around them. Rather than slaving at the kitchen all day, choose a menu that’s easy to prepare, serve, and eat. Finger foods are staple party fare and they’re easy to clean up afterwards.

If you’re going to bake and decorate the cake, do it a day or two before the party. Cupcake towers are also pretty popular these days — they’re easier to make and ensure that each child gets a fair share.

Games and Activities

Kids are hyperactive by nature and they need to let out all that energy — what better way than fun games and activities? Here are some ideas to try:

  • Traditional Party Games– Some tried-and tested classics include Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs, and Simon Says. Add a little twist by tweaking the games according to the party’s theme.
  • Bobbing Apples – You’ll need a big tub, bowl, or pot for this game. Fill it with apples and add water until the apples rise up to just below the rim. Using his mouth and the hands behind his back, each participant should pick as many apples as he can within twenty seconds. The one who gets the most apples wins!
  • Sleeping Lions – This is a great down-time after all that jumping, screaming, and running around. Except for one or two “hunters,” ask the kids to lie down on the floor and pretend to sleep — they’re not allowed to move! Once everyone is settled, the hunters will try to make them move without touching them, by telling jokes or making silly faces. When the hunter successfully makes the lion move, the lion will get up and join the hunters. The last child on the floor wins!

Ideally, planning should begin at least six to eight weeks prior to the party. This should give you plenty of time to figure out the details and iron out any kinks towards the big day. Prioritize major details like the venue, theme, and guest list, and then work on the rest (menu, games, favors) as the date draws near. With these handy tips in mind, your child’s next birthday party will surely be an affair to remember!

Jessica Phan is a designer for Balsamhill.com a purveyor of high-end artificial Christmas Trees. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for her because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping.

Photo credit: istockphoto.com

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