Today over there you'll find the first part of this post (or the second part depending on how you read it :). I'm writing about parties!! Yippee!! Hip Hip Hooray!! Let's keep this ball rollin'!
Full Bellies = Happy Moods for the Littles + Something For Those Big People To Do
Let's face it, when people get together, food is expected. I'm pretty sure it's less for filling bellies and more for recreation. Either way, you have lots of choices of how and what to offer your guests. Some people choose full dinners like cookouts or family favorites. Some people have lots and lots and lots and lots of horsedevors (you know what I mean...) and if you paste them all together you have enough for three full dinners.
Food can sink a party budget. Resist the temptation to top your friend's party. Do what is within your means. The party is about celebrating with your child, NOT about your food table.
I like to pick those "in between" party times I talked about over at Sumo's. But, since people normally expect food and I don't want anyone to gnaw his arm off, I serve a heavy snack named to match my party theme. I try to choose something that is affordable when made in bulk, can be prepared and served easily, and is kid friendly.
Some ideas: Super Nachos, Potato Bar, Frito Pie, Tacos, Fajitas. Or, if you want to get really fancy you could appoint a Grandpa who loves to cook as the devoted Griddle or Grill Master for Custom Quesadillas.
Some ideas for names: Super Nachos for Superheroes, Firehouse Frito Pies, T Rex Tacos, Fiesta Fajitas for Dora, or Sporty Spuds. I like to make a simple sign for the table area, but I'm corny like that!
Activities = Fun memories + Prior Planning - Kids Running Amuck (spelled right, looked it up, but didn't look up horsedevors while I was there)
Give those crazy kids something to do!!!! I am a FIRM believer that kids' parties should be focused on kids. If you're going to have a party, then plan activities for those wild, uh, I mean, sweet children.
Do a google search for "[your party theme] birthday games". There are LOTS of great sites that have fun ideas. Some simple, some out of control detailed. I'm a simple girl, so I stick with the path of least resistence. Easy is for me (except when I try to suck an egg in a bottle).
Simple games that can be tweaked to fit lots of themes: egg carry, freeze dance, pin the whatever on the whatever, bean bag toss, musical chairs, outside obstacle course, balloon pop, 3 legged race, treasure hunts. These sound basic, but when's the last time you saw these done at a child's party?! There are so many "destination" parties these days, lots of kids have never played these favorites. In my experience, they are HUGE hits!!
Out of the Ordinary = Happy Times - Tears - Present Lust
Out of the Ordinary Idea #1:
WARNING: What I'm about to say may or may not work for your family. Are you ready? Here it comes. Hold your breath..........Consider leaving out "opening presents" time. I saw this done at a party lightyears ago and LOVED it. When gifts are opened after the party, it allows for a shorter scheduled party time which seems to suit kids, but more importantly, you don't have to worry about much of the stress that sometimes comes with opening gifts...duplicates, crying, whining, kids "helping" the birthday child, ungratefulness, etc.
We wait until our kids are 4 to have parties (cause we're weird like that), so we've pretty much done this for all the parties. For a couple, the boys have started opening when there were a few guests left, but for the most part, they wait. They know this is the way we do it (because we prepared them in the early days) and they're fine with it.
Out of the Ordinary Idea #2:
If you expect your guests will bring gifts, invite your guests to buy a $5 gift card to their favorite place. We've done this a few times and it's been great. I brainstormed it to hopefully make things easier on the guests. On the invite I put, "If you choose to bring a gift, [child's name] would love a $5 gift card to your favorite place." This keeps the cost low and hopefully takes out the wondering of what the birthday kid already has or wants.
The boys have enjoyed the variety and have a blast visiting all the places. They've gotten cards to ice cream places, fast food, book stores, Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree, and more!
One well planned item = less clutter - running around getting "all the stuff" for the goody bags
I think less, as in work, is more when it come to party favors. Think of something affordable that fits your theme and run with it!
Princess....wand or crown
Pirate....sword or hat or treasure chest or pirate gold chocolate coins
Dinosaur....growing or squishy dinosaur or binoculars
Cowboy....hat or the fixins for s'mores
Outside Play....water bottle or water gun or frisbee
You get the idea. I feature some INCREDIBLE etsy sellers at Silly Shindigs with some creative favors. Cute, cute stuff. Check them out!
A Themed Party = something your child will look forward to + direction for your planning + great scrapbooking
Themes rock. They build excitement. They help create an atmosphere. They're just fun!
There are 2 ways we decide themes in my house. Okay, 3 ways.
- A kid is just INTO something. Like way deep. Like Elijah who wore his superman costume nonstop everyday from Halloween clear until the next Christmas. Seriously. If you think I'm kidding, ask a neighbor.
- We springboard off the pinata (We're a brown/white family. We do pinatas for alllll kinds of occasions). So, a kid can't decide. We take a trip to the party store, and he picks out a pinata. BAM! That's the theme.
- I just railroad the process and pick the theme. Of course, I suggest it and make it sound REALLY cool and they just can't resist. Like Roman's science party or Elijah's Fire Truck party coming up or the one I already have planned in my mind for Roman's next party 8 months from now (obsessive).
Whew! Okay, since I like me some party chat up in here (yo, yo, yo), I want to hear from you. What are some of your favorite party ideas? If I were to post some themes step-by-step, what themes do you wanna know about?
Remember, if you haven't already gone over to Sumo's Sweet Stuff to read the first half of this post, make sure you check that out!