Party Planning

Children's birthday party

Let me start with a disclaimer-I am NOT a party planner nor would I consider this to be a niche of mine.

I am a regular mom with more Pinterest fails than I’d like to admit and truthfully, even the successes typically leave something to be desired.

I’ve attempted to make Halloween costumes, gotten crafty with treats for my kids’ class holiday parties, and taken a stab at interior design only to have my tiny humans wreck havoc on my ideas. So, if you’re a “regular” mom like me looking to throw a pretty kick ass party without the talent of Martha Stewart, look no further. Karen, with the sewing machine and fondant fingers that mirror that of a surgical God keep scrolling-this isn’t the read for you.

1. Themes

One of the easiest ways to plan a child’s birthday party is to pick a theme. This will give you guidance and direction. If you’re planning for a younger child, you may be the one to choose the theme, but if you’re planning for an older child, they may want to pick the theme themselves. Themes can be creative and intricate or even as simple as an overall color.

2. Picky Foods

Do not get too carried away with food. Most people simply enjoy finger foods, or things they can pick at, and they generally do not expect to be fed a full meal at a child’s birthday party, or really any social gathering. Food is more for fun than purpose at parties. Typically, people would rather enjoy appetizers and fill up on things that they can munch on rather than sitting down for a meal. I’ve slowly been perfecting the art of meal planning for a large group but I’ve had numerous fails leading up to this. For my older son William’s first birthday party I went with a super cute cowboy theme. The food ranged from chili with all the fixings, to a candy buffet, mac n cheese, sliders, etc. Expecting the masses to eat like they’d never eaten before, my husband and I went to Sam’s Club and bought enough hot dogs to feed an army. Needless to say, I’m not even sure a single hot dog was eaten. Fast forward to my most recent birthday party, William’s 4th where I was threatening my guests to eat the abundance of pizza that I’d ordered to spare myself being the butt of endless jokes from my husband, targeting my food planning skills. So, just like I said, I am definitely NOT a party planner but I will say that appetizer-like foods are the way to go and don’t go overboard on the amount, don’t be a Kate.

3. Who is your audience

This is a big one and something that I’ve pondered a lot in my recent years of hosting. From children’s birthday parties at our house to a surprise birthday party for my husband to Halloween parties and Christmas brunches, I’ve had a variety of guests in my home. I certainly didn’t plan the same type of party for my kids’ first birthdays as I did for an adults only surprise birthday celebration. Although the necessary beer and wine accompanied both, there were other varying factors to consider. For example, when I’m hosting a bunch of tiny humans, I look at my home in different way than I would for adults, looking at the areas that could be equal a recipe for disaster. Take the playroom for example. I’ve gone as far as to zip tie the playroom gate to help eliminate the spreading of toys throughout the house. A mess, I can handle, but looking as if Toys R Us dropped a bomb on our house doesn’t couple well with an inevitable post party hangover. In addition, adults are typically entertained by each other’s company, maybe some good music and occasionally a card game or a rousing round of flip cup. Children on the other hand may need more direction and planned activities. This is something else I’ve learned during my party planning. The entire party is more enjoyable when the tiny humans have some direction and guidance.

4. Timing

From time of day to time of year, the timing of a party can truly make or break its success. Think about your guest list. Do the majority of the people you invited have small children who nap or head to bed early? If so, morning parties can be great-I’m a huge fan of the breakfast/brunch theme! If you’re hosting for adults, do they need to be home in time to relieve a babysitter? You may consider having your party start earlier to cater to this. Also, consider whether your home can accommodate everyone on your guest list in the event of inclement weather. Finally, another helpful thing that I’ve learned is the importance of listing an end time on your invites. A more ambitious version of my social butterfly self used to believe that it was a sign of a job well done when you had guests arrive at the start and continue partying on all day/night. Now, while I clearly enjoy the company of my crew and welcome those who are willing to kick back and relax, or even better help me clean up, I also recognize the deep breath and sense of relaxation that comes when your job is done, and your guests have returned home. If I don’t have to continue to actually “entertain” you, by all means, stick around. But know that once that end time has passed, you are own your own for drink refills, meals, and general host-provided luxuries, reinforcing the beauty of an end time.

Hosting can be stressful and overrated, but it can also be so rewarding and fun when you’re in control and in your own home. My hopes are that you’re able to take these 4 small suggestions into consideration when planning your next get-together, for a truly enjoyable time.

Cheers!

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