So my son just turned 5 – I know it’s cliché but I can’t believe how fast time flies. I still remember him as a newborn in the hospital! But, for this milestone, I decided it was time that he enjoy a birthday party with his friends. However, knowing that his birthday is in the summer, when school is out, my fear of no one coming because of vacations, etc. made me almost decide to not do it. In the end, I decided to go for it and here is how I kept things organized:
Venue– There are so many different places that host children’s parties these days, there is a good chance you can find one that meets your family’s needs. The key to finding the right fit is to think about what your child enjoys. Also, what is your comfort level having a party at your home vs. out somewhere? In my case, I preferred to have it out (less clean up, etc.)
Date and Day – What I learned is that this really matters! I talked to a lot of moms about this as I was planning because my fear was that no one would be able to come to the party due to vacations, etc. After all, it’s the summer! What I was advised and what ended up working well, was to have it on a Friday evening. In this scenario, you could still have people come as most vacation travel would be on Saturday or Sunday. For the working parents, it is still late enough to be able to get there. Of course, I think it would be unrealistic to expect high attendance in the summer in general, but I think that a Friday evening is a good way to try to mitigate that.
Theme– I think it is nice to have a theme for a child’s birthday party. It helps to bring together invites, decorations and gives some insight into what your child is interested in. Places like Party City, Target or Michaels are great places to get ideas and they have a lot of cute merchandise available to help you. In my case we went with a dinosaur theme since John has been obsessed with these creatures for the past year.
Getting the word out – This was another challenge for me. I did not have any contact information for any of the children in John’s class, so I couldn’t send evites or anything like that. What I ended up doing was sending paper invites with John at school in June toward the end of the school year (his birthday was in July) and asking the teacher to send each child home with an invitation.
Favors – This was a tough one. Usually a trip to the dollar store or WalMart can give you some ideas of trinkets that kids in whatever age group you are looking at will enjoy, but I wanted to give something that was less junky and a little more personalized. (This was also easier to do as I had a smaller group at the party.) I remembered an awesome favor John received at our friend’s daughter’s party a few years back, which I found and ordered online through outrageouspartyfavors.com. It’s a small business run by Cheryl out of Long Island. Cheryl was great and even made some quick additions to my order without a beat. Each child received a water bottle with his/her name on it. Also there are a couple blank ones included in the order for any last minute attendees and they are really cute as well.
Food– with kids, I think it’s best to keep it simple, so for us it was pizza and cake. When ordering, be sure to include the parents in your headcount also! If you are at a total loss about what to order and how much to order, most party venues will be able to assist and make recommendations.
Decorations – Once you’ve set your theme, it will help to brainstorm decorations. Some venues will supply paper products (for a fee usually) but tablecloths, signs, balloons, cups and plates can easily be bought at a party store.
Showtime! I think that with any event, the more organized and planned it is the better. The only regret I had with this party was really my own fault and it’s because I am so bad with taking pictures. I was good about taking pictures during the party and got a family shot of us with John and his cake but I forgot to get a group shot of John and all his friends who came to the party. Bad mommy! So if you are bad at pictures like me, I’d recommend putting together a list of pictures you want before the party and then make sure you get them during the party. If you have a friend or family member you can put in charge of this, even better!
John had a great time and, at the end of the day, that’s really the reason we host these parties. I feel very lucky that he has really nice friends who have great parents. Happy party planning!