Thanks to our rotten economy many parents have had to scale back'??but that doesn'??t mean your child'??s birthday has to be anything short of magnificent. I'??m going to share my tips for a classic at home birthday bash.
Send invitations out at least two weeks in advance. Three weeks is the sweet spot. Evite is a wonderful way to cut back on paper and costs, but I also encourage parents to try the online birthday invites. They can be personalized with pictures and make a keepsake after all the balloons have been popped. Tiny Prints has cards starting at $.59 each.
When it comes to numbers at home parties should be small. Three to four kids for a two year old is plenty, add one or two more for every year to a maximum of 12. If you are inviting more than 12 look for a venue to host the party or pitch a tent outside.
Keep the menu simple. Don'??t knock yourself out with exquisite canapÃ©s. Do offer some healthy snacks, wheat crackers, cheese sticks, grapes, etc. Mini quesadillas are a nice alternative to pizza.
Limit the candy. It'??ll just send the kids into orbit. Cake and a juice box are plenty of sugar. Skip colored juices and dark chocolate cake unless you are planning an outdoor party. Your carpets will thank me.
Plan on a 90-minute party. Anything longer is too hard for a large group. Here'??s the basic run down.
20 minutes: Free play/Icebreaker. I like a simple craft such as rolling out a long sheet of paper on the floor and supplying crayons and (washable) markers. Here'??s an idea: Have each guest lie down on the paper roll and trace around them. Let the kids color themselves in'??big fun.
40 minutes: Main Activity. Could be your husband doing magic tricks, or a clown brought in to perform. Older kids will love tie-die or a rock band party. Don'??t expect to capture their attention for long. (I'??ll do a follow-up post on activities I promise)
15 minutes: Birthday cake, song and snack.
15 minutes: Free play (to run off the sugar). Simply crank up some danceable tunes and throw some balloons on the floor for the kids to bop around.
Push all the furniture to the sides of the room to clear space for frolicking.
Hide all breakables.
Balloons make everything more festive.
Keep a large trash can handy. Kids can toss cups and plates and won't have to carry food to the kitchen.
Designate a photographer (i.e. Uncle Joe'??the 20 year old without kids)'??you won'??t be able to shoot good pictures and coordinate the party.
Relax and join in the fun. Don'??t sweat the small stuff. Your child will likely remember you joining in the festivities and bashing the piÃ±ata more than perfectly matched table settings.