Do you remember birthday parties from your childhood? Our moms had it made. Bake a cake, buy some ice cream, play some games, wear silly hats — done. My, how things have changed in the world of kids’ parties. We now have to the added pressure of food allergies, insane goodie bags, impossible-to-recreate Pinterest project goals, and the judgement of fellow parents.
Stop the madness! There’s no reason to get crazy. Take a deep breath, set some reasonable goals, and get organized.
Organization. Be sure to create a detailed, running to-do list, complete with deadlines and shopping lists, plus confirmation numbers and contact numbers for the facility or vendors. (Note: the simpler the party, the shorter the list, so there’s more incentive not to go crazy.)
Decisions. The first three things you need to decide on are budget, date, and number of guests. Decide which element is your main priority — fixed budget, must-invite group of kids, specific date? And go from there.
Location. Choice of location is incredibly important, and it really depends on the type of parent you are, and the amount of help you’ll have. At-home parties are best if you are super organized, you have lots of assistance, and you’re not OCD about your living space. Just remember, you will be responsible for the set up, pacing, activities, serving of refreshments, and most importantly — the clean up. Take into account how tired you’ll be after all that “fun,” and plan accordingly.
If you’re not sure if — or are very sure that — you’re not mentally or emotionally equipped to survive a chaotic house party, facility rental is for you. From fitness facilities to bowling alleys to art studios, there are a multitude of options to consider. Do plenty of research, as prices and packages vary. Find out exactly what the facility will and won’t provide, and if there are any potentially surprise additional costs — like a per-kid charge for those who didn’t RSVP, but show up anyway.
NOTE: It’s actually quite possible to spend as much if not more on an at-home party than at a facility, so crunch those numbers!
Checklist at a Glance…
- Budget. If you’re not a stickler or math person, at least come up with a ballpark figure, and do your best to stick to it.
- Date. Check with close family members and your child’s very best friend’s parents first. Also, remember that we live in Louisiana. Football is practically a religion. If it’s football season, check the Saints’ and Tigers’ schedule, and plan (or provide a TV) accordingly!
- Invitations. In addition to requesting an RSVP by a specific date, ask parents to alert you with any dietary restrictions. Also, if you’re doing a theme party, buy a whole matching set of invitations, tableware, decorations, thank-you notes, etc. Kill many birds with one stone.
- Place Your Orders. From cakes to facilities to mobile party entertainment, there are usually at least a few things that require placing an order or reservation. Get it done early, and keep your receipts and confirmation numbers.
- Goodie Bags. Y’all! Who decided to turn good old fashioned simple party favors into Hollywood Oscar party-worthy “swag bags”? You can certainly go nuts with pricey goodie bags, if you like, or make it easy and affordable by going minimalist. Most kids will be plenty thrilled to leave with a helium balloon tied to their wrist.
- Recruitment. Sure, you could do it all yourself, but if you have a mom, sister-in-law, best friend, or anybody else willing to lend a hand, let them! Pulling off a successful event of any kind is easier with team effort.
The most important thing… try not to overextend yourself mentally or financially. Low stress = maximum enjoyment. Set some reasonable expectations and remember the reason for the party. Have fun as you celebrate your child’s big day and create lasting memories of these major milestones!