You’re a Mom. It is the most rewarding title you will ever have. But let’s face it…you wear many hats. Chauffeur, short order cook, housekeeper, Guidance counselor, ATM, Social Secretary, Referee and Party Planner… just to name a few. Worrying about planning your child’s next party doesn’t have to be an added stress, let’s face it you have enough to worry about! I have always been the “party girl”. Whether it is going to, getting together with friends and family, or hosting a party, I have learned the most important thing to remember is…LESS IS MORE. Keep this in mind as you go through the steps of the planning process, small details make big impressions. The little extra details are what people are going to remember…not what games were played. Here are some tips to get you thru your child’s next party.
Pick a theme. The easiest way to decide is to pick something that your child loves (favorite stuffed animal, sport, video game, hobby etc.) This will make it so much easier when looking for décor because it will actually be fun for you (and your child) because it means something to them. Use this theme throughout your party (invitations, decorations, food & party favors) Pick two colors that coordinated with your theme and use it towards your inspiration.
Chose a date and location. If you have a younger child schedule the party around their nap time (I promise it makes for a better experience for you and them) having it at your home is always nice, but your local play gym offers free clean up!
Decorations. This is my favorite part!
Look in your child’s toy box first; if you pick a theme they love you are going to have toys already. Recycling them for party decorations is ideal.
Let ribbon, paper, stickers, and fabric be your friend. Fabric makes a great tablecloth (no one is going to notice that you did not sew the edges) Gluing ribbon onto a clear vase with filled with flowers will add an extra touch. Rolling paper into cones and securing with a sticker is an instant snack holder for little hands. Buy clear plastic cups and put your theme sticker on the front.
Whatever you do, DO NOT go to the party aisle of your local store and by EVERYTHING you see that has to do with your party theme…remember, LESS IS MORE! Plain colored plates with the plastic sticker cup and a toy centerpiece will be enough embellishment for the table. Leftover colored plates are easier to serve dinner on then the ones with Care Bears plastered all over them (your husband will thank you). If your child insists on the character plates, buy the smaller ones and use them for the cake and ice cream.
Personalizing your party looks fantastic! In your favorite computer art program, you can print out letters that say “Happy Birthday (insert child’s name)” Hole punch or cut out each letter individually and thread with coordinating ribbon, for an instant Party Banner!
Activities. Kids know how to play, it’s in their blood. They work with whatever they got (which really amazes me) If you decide to have a moon bounce, just have the moon bounce. Having a pool party? Swimming is all they need, but of course a pool party is not complete without beach balls, super soakers, and rafts! Still want some games? Only plan on 2 or 3. A craft table is always fun for kids of all ages (age appropriate crafts are key) something the kids can do themselves gives them more gratification. A Play-doh table is wonderful for the little ones. I through a superhero party and set up a small table with all action figures on it (My little ponies for the girls on a separate table) and in between playing games and having snacks, the kids thought these tables were bliss. Again, recycle your kid’s toys!
Food. Again, follow your theme if possible. Use a shaped cookie cutter to cut grilled cheese or other sandwiches into shapes. Healthy options are a must. (The Mom’s will thank you) Small plastic cups with a spoon full of your favorite dip and some cut up vegetables inserted is perfect for your mini guest. (Bonus: the kids are not double dipping with the adults!) Fruit snacks come in every shape and theme and drinkable yogurts with swirly straws are always desirable. mmmmm….Cake. A big cake is great, but cupcakes are just as popular. Cupcake toppers are a great DIY project using paper, stickers, and toothpicks. Or you can purchase them from one of my FAVORITE resources, ETSY. There are some talented artists on there. Want to skip the cake altogether? Offer an ice cream bar where kids chose their favorite ice cream and toppings (get the camera ready because this is SO much fun!)
Party Favors. Parents are tired of those little nick-nacks the kids come home with. There is no need to go overboard. A bottle of bubbles with a ribbon tied around it with a personalized tag is always a hit. Having a Circus theme party? Fill clear plastic bags with animal crackers and staple coordinating paper to the top adding a personalized label for that extra oomph. Another option is the ever popular candy bar. Set up a table with your child’s favorite candies (purchased at your local warehouse store) and use beach pails (as the candy containers) to give it that “kid friendly” feel. Supply small plastic bags, so the kids get to fill their own loot bag with what they want. First birthday party, rubber duckies are always a favorite, but downloading your child’s favorite songs onto a CD is the gift that keeps on giving.
Now that your party is planned, it is most important to enjoy your child’s day. Take a lot of pictures. Also know that it is not mandatory to open the gifts while all the kids are watching (WOW that is a HUGE relief)! A simple Thank you note is a definite. It just shows your guests that you appreciate them to celebrate your child’s special day. (It also teaches your child etiquette and graciousness) With proper planning, your next children’s party doesn’t have to be so hard! But of course if after reading this you still find it completely overwhelming, hire a professional. If you can get someone to clean the house, cut the lawn, cook the food, or plan the party no one has to know you had “an extra set of hands”! That’s why people (like me) are in the service industry, to help others out. Your secret is safe with me!
Author, Stephanie Frazier Grimm, is Mommy to Carter and Ellie, and is the owner of Couture Parties, one of a kind event planning and design in Newport, RI. Couture Parties offers event design/planning for weddings, dinner parties, cocktail parties, baby showers, bridal showers, children’s parties, fundraising and so much more. Couture Parties was started after her second child was born and her first business, Mama & Bambino was sold. Being a work at home mom-entrepreneur and designer is something Stephanie is passionate about. Stephanie is available for planning, advising, and inspiration. Her website is www.CoutureParties.com
and follow her on twitter @CoutureParties.