Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Birthday Party Planning Tips and Resources (Part 1)

If you know me very well, you’ll know that birthday parties are a BIG DEAL at our house. I love throwing fun and memorable birthday parties for my girls and we’ve had a lot of fun ones over the years.

I recently started working on scrapbooking all of them (which is a much bigger chore than I thought it would be!) and I’m also working on Hannah’s upcoming party, so I guess I have birthdays on the brain.

I often get asked for ideas for parties, so I thought it might be helpful to do a post giving some tips and tidbits I’ve learned over the years and to get any of your suggestions as well. As I started typing up the information, it was really long, so I'm splitting it into 3 posts.

TIP #1: START PLANNING EARLY

I start planning a party at least 2 months in advance. That may sound like a lot, but it’s really not. It sometimes takes a long time to collect what you want for a party, so starting early gives you the freedom to shop around for good deals.

TIP #2: SELECT A THEME

A theme isn’t necessary for planning a fun party, but it sure does help. The first thing I do when planning a party is to come up with a theme. Then I try to plan the invitations, games, decorations, and food around that theme. It is also helpful to decide the format of the party (sleepover, morning or afternoon, indoor or outdoor, etc.) at this point.

There are very few party themes that we’ve come up with on our own. Most of our ideas have been found online or “borrowed” from other sources. Birthday Party Ideas is the main site I’ve used for theme ideas. Each theme has descriptions from people who have thrown parties with that theme and you can usually find lots of great ideas that way. If it’s a popular theme, though, it may take quite a bit of reading and sorting through to find what you want. I usually copy and paste ideas that I like into a Word document and then sort through them once I finish reading all the ideas.

Family Fun magazine also has some great party theme ideas on their site.

If you want to host a murder mystery party, this site has some that you can purchase. They also include ideas for food to serve that go along with the theme

TIP #3: SELECT GAMES AND ACTIVITIES THAT GO WITH YOUR THEME

Once you figure out your theme, you can make almost any game fit your theme. For example, for Hannah’s “monkey” party, we played volleyball outside with monkey beach balls and just called it “Monkey Volleyball.”

They also don’t have to be elaborate games. One of my favorite birthday party memories is of a Hello Kitty party I did for Hannah. For one activity, I made yarn pom-poms and just let the kids play with them (because kitties like to play with yarn, you know). They had SO much fun with that simple game! The parents were laughing out loud just watching them. I had no idea when I planned the party that that game would be such a hit.

Again, there’s not an original bone in my body. Most of my game ideas are found online. Here are a few sites I’ve used:
  • Party 411
  • Party Game Ideas
  • Party Game Central has a very helpful custom game search that will allow you to search for games based on age level, active vs. passive games, games for a small area vs. games for a large area, etc.

If you need supplies for your games, Oriental Trading is a great place to get cheap party supplies, prizes, and take-home goodies.

In the next 2 posts, I will give some more tips on planning your party and preserving your birthday party memories.

Do you have other great resources for party games or theme ideas that I haven't mentioned? If so, please share them in the comments so that other readers can benefit.

2 comments:

Kimberly said...

Loved this post as I am in the process of planning Heidi's first birthday (vintage bird theme). :)

Jennifer said...

Kimberly - How is it even possible that she's almost a year old already? Wow. Time sure flies! I can't wait to see pictures of her first party!

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