Guest Post: Birthday Party Tips and Tricks

Hi everyone, this week’s guest post is from Jessica Phan.  Jessica is a designer for Balsamhill.com a
purveyor of high-end artificial Christmas Trees. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for her because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping.  Take is away Jessica….

In a few weeks, your child is going to be another year older. How times flies! Wasn’t it only yesterday when you planned the first birthday bash? You want this day to be really special, but renting that new kiddie place in town with the giant slides and colorful mazes just isn’t in the budget.

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You don’t have to have to spend too much to put a smile on your child’s face on the big day. Here are some tips on how to make a memorable birthday party without breaking the bank.

Brainstorm with your child.

You may have thought of a bunch of guests shouting “Surprise!” when he arrives home from school. That would make for a nice video, but you won’t know what he really wants if you plan without him. Ask him for ideas. It is his party, after all. If he wants a basketball theme, jot that down. Let him design the invitation. Would he prefer to blow candles on a cake or a tier of cupcakes?

List down the names of the friends he wants to invite. He should enjoy partying with the people he hangs out with. Don’t hesitate to limit the number of guests, though. Having the whole class come over could be stressful. You want a party, not a problem.

Choose the location.

Many parents prefer to hold the event in the living room or the yard. Jazz up the place according to your daughter’s theme of choice. Has she nixed Barbie in favor of retro? Make colorful party streamers with circles and squares. Get balloons in chocolate brown and rose pink.

You might want to consider other interesting but inexpensive locations such as the local park, the community pool, or the zoo. Not only will that spell hours of outdoor fun, it saves you from clean up, too.

Serve fun food.

Ditch the hors d’oeuvre and crème brûlée; it’s a children’s party, not a fancy dinner. Go for easy-to-prepare finger foods and sneak in some healthy choices. You wouldn’t want a bunch of kids high on sugar.

Cut ham and cheese sandwiches into little hearts and stars. Serve oven-baked potatoes in brightly-colored paper cups. Make fruit kebabs or homemade orange pops for dessert. Then wash them all down with glasses of strawberry slushy.

What’s for entertainment?

Games and activities are essential for a successful party. Old favorites include pinning the tail on the donkey, relay races, and a piñata. Spice up the program with a treasure hunt. Kids will surely get excited looking for strips of paper under chairs and deciphering the clues. Don’t forget the grand prize and consolation gifts, too. Everyone in the party should feel like a winner.

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A magic show is another timeless classic. You don’t have to hire a pro. There are plenty of inexpensive magician’s tools and accessories available in stores. Just spend a little time for practice, add lots of hand gestures, and you will get a bunch of kids with mouths wide open in awe.

Take note, however, that things may not work out as planned. If it rains in the middle of a game of tag, then you’d have to scrap the rest of your outdoor activities. Be prepared with a Plan B. Get some coloring books, crayons, and watercolor so you can transform the event into an art party. That way, the kids don’t have to spend the rest of the time watching cartoons.

Say thank you with a gift.

Make the party extra special with party favors. Girls will surely love a bag of inexpensive bracelets and necklaces, or an envelope of craft supplies. A pail of building blocks or sheets of super hero stickers will have the boys jumping.

Whatever party favor you choose, have the birthday celebrant write thank you cards before the big day. Put them inside each bag before giving them out to your little guests. This is a great way for your child to learn the value of expressing gratitude.

Pictures, please!

Get the camera and snap away. Take photos of everything; the celebrant, the food, the gifts and guests. Looking at pictures is always a fun after-party activity.

You’ll probably be too busy attending to everyone so give the camera to someone else. Ask your sister or your best friend to take charge of the photos, and focus your energy on making the children well-fed and entertained.

Most of all, have lots of fun. Don’t get so stressed out with the planning and preparation. Remember that the simplest things give the greatest joy. Relax, put on a happy smile for everyone and your kid will surely exclaim, “This is the best party ever!”