Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Birthday Party Planning Tips and Resources (Part 2)

This is Part 2 in a 3-part series on planning fun and memorable birthday parties. You can read Part 1 here.

TIP #4: HAVE A PLAN

As you plan your party, try to figure out a rough schedule of how you think the party will flow. Nothing scares me more than having a house full of kids and running out of things for them to do! I usually try to plan more games than I think I will use so that I won’t run out.

Having a schedule will help you to think through gaps that you otherwise might not notice until party day. For example, when we plan outdoor games that involve water, we have to build some time in the schedule for the kids to change, dry off, etc. Or if one game requires a lot of set-up time, you may want to have that be the first game so that you can do the prep work before the party.

Thinking through your schedule will also help you to figure out how much help you’re going to need. As kids get older, parents tend to drop them off rather than staying for the party. Knowing how many helpers you need will help you plan ahead to either ask some parents to stay or recruit some older siblings to help.

TIP #5: PLAN YOUR FOOD

Some parties require full meals (sleepovers, etc.) and some just require light snacks. Almost all parties will include a cake of some sort. My girls don’t particularly like cake, so we have served cookie cakes or decorated brownies at some of our parties. Almost all of our “cakes” have been homemade and have centered on the theme. Family Fun Magazine has some great party theme ideas and some really fun cake ideas to go with them. I have also found some fun cake ideas on other blogs or the internet. Once you decide on your theme, it's pretty easy to Google cake ideas for your theme.

If you are serving a full meal at your party, be sure to find out if any of your party attendees have special dietary needs.

TIP #6: SEND THE INVITATIONS EARLY

The invitations can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like them to be. The main thing to keep in mind is to make sure all the information is on the invitation and to get them mailed out in plenty of time (I like to send them out 2 weeks in advance).

I personally like to make unique invitations. For example, when Alyssa had a detective party, I sent the invitations in code, rolled them up, and sent them in a mailing tube. The kids thought it was great fun to find that in their mailboxes! When Hannah had a Wonka-themed party, I sent out fake Wonka bars (made of craft foam). The invitation was printed on gold paper inside the wrapper (their “Golden Ticket”). Hannah’s upcoming party is a “Mall Mania” party (like a scavenger hunt in the mall) and the invitations were made to look like credit cards. Again, that’s all an “extra” thing that I like to do. If it overwhelms you to try and come up with some creative invitation, then just send out a purchased one.

I know that in recent years, some people have moved toward electronic invitations (like e-vites). Personally, I don’t like this trend. Don’t get me wrong. I love e-mail and prefer it in most instances. However, I have seen instances where e-vites don’t get delivered or get caught in SPAM filters. I also think that people (kids especially) like to get things in the mail. It generates excitement just from the fact that someone sent them something in the mail. Even for adults, it’s nice get something besides bills and junk mail. Again, that’s just a personal preference thing. If e-vites make it easier for you, then go for it. If you do go that route, though, I would suggest following up with people to make sure that the invitations were received.

Do you have other great ideas for cakes, invitations, or other planning tools that I haven't mentioned? If so, please share them in the comments. Tomorrow I will talk about ways to preserve your birthday party memories.

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