Organizing Great Birthday Celebrations

By Alicia Hutchinson
Planning birthday parties and celebrating another year formy kids is one of the joys of motherhood—it never grows old for me. Some people have told me throwing parties intimidates them, but I find it a fun project. You can choose to go all out, or you can opt for a laid-back occasion; both are equally special.
But both types require planning ahead. Here are some tips to help throw great partiesto celebrate your kiddos.
Start planning ahead of time.
I usually start asking my kids about their birthdays about four to sixweeks ahead of time. I’ll ask them about themes they’re interested in. Usually we go with a theme of something they are really into at the time—for instance, art or cats or pirates.
Once I have a theme in mind, I really hone in on that one idea. As soon as your brain is telling you pirates, pirates, pirates, you start to see awesome things when you’re out and about or thumbing through a magazine. You’ll see a shell-shaped bowl at a thrift store for two dollars and grab it because you know it’ll look great on the table.
Early planning gives you more time to explore ideas and pick up odds and ends and other details when you’re out shopping.
Make things easy on yourself.
Magazines and Pinterest offer so many ideas, and that’s great—until the ideas start stressing you out. Choose a few of your favorite ideas to replicate at your party and then just forget the rest. We can’t do it all, so don’t try.
Ask for help.
Don’t we all have friendswho arereally good at taking pictures or baking cakes or crafting? Ask for help from these friends. They’ll be happy to swap favors with you. If your heart isn’t in baking, ask your talented friend to do it for you. Bring her the supplies and, when you pick up the cake, bring her dinner in return for her time. She’ll get to flex her creative muscles, you’ll get your cake done well and stress-free, and she gets dinner for her family. Win-win for everyone!
Think of your friends and family members and their talents. Think of the areas where you aren’t as interested or don’t do as well and have them fill in where your strengths are not. That will leave you free to focus on the things you really enjoy with party planning.
Focus on the details—but just a few.
The details of a party are what make it memorable, and they are my favorite to plan. But little details can quickly become time-zappers and leave you reeling with a mess of glue and random craft supplies five minutes before party guests arrive.
Decide on the details ahead of time: the decor, the party favorites, the party crafts. Hone in on the few you definitely want to include. Get those done first.
Set the plan before the party.
I’m not one to plan every minute of every day, but when it comes to my kids’ parties, I like to have a general plan of how it’s going to go. I’ve found that parties around one-and-a-half to two hours are just about perfect. When the kids arrive I like to have a small craft ready for them that they can have as an icebreaker before the party starts, so craziness doesn’t break out with little kids running all over the house.
When everyone arrives, we move into another craft, activity, or game. After food, cake, and gifts (if you do gifts), there’s one more craft or game and then a little free play before parents return to pick up their kids. Just enough freedom and structure, but having a plan really helps it all go smoothly.
Enjoy the party…for real.
Don’t miss the moment your child blows out their candles or opens their new favorite gifts because you’re running around taking care of cleaning up cake plates or passing out favors. Remember to enjoy your kids’ parties! Ask your friend or another child to take photos or do other little odd jobs so you can relax and enjoy—the party and your special birthday kid!
Alicia Hutchinson is called Mama by four kiddos, two boys and two girls. They have been homeschooling for seven years, and history and good literature are their favorite subjects. Alicia can be found blogging on her corner of the Web, Investing Love: talks about making a home, current projects, creating, reading, teaching, and enjoying the little things that come with being a mom/wife/teacher.

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