Party Planning Tips
- Make a list of what you need ahead of time.
- Get the birthday girl’s input. If she’s like most children, she will have been talking about it most of the year anyway.
- Take time choosing invitations for your child’s party. It’s the first impression of your birthday bash.
- Invite the number of guests according to a child’s age. For example, if your child is five years old, invite five children.
- Set a budget and stick to it!
- Consider your child’s age and interests when determining what entertainment to have. There are so many options to choose from, including clowns and balloon artists, bouncy houses, water slides, ponies, princesses and pirates, and caricature artists.
- Pick age-appropriate games and activities, and walk through the games beforehand to see if they work for the area that you plan to use for them.
- Fill goody bags with sweet treats, kazoos, and small toys, but don’t spend more than $3 per bag.
- Keep it short. Two hours is plenty of time for a party.
- Write names on cups. Put a marker near the plastic cups so guests can write their names.
- Have a plan for family pets. Make sure they don’t disturb the party guests–especially the ones who may be frightened by them.
Birthday Party Themes
Choosing a birthday party theme is a big deal. It’s usually the first step to get the party planning rolling. Whether it be the favorite princess party or a new spa party, there’s something for every personality. After doing a little research and talking with the experts, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular birthday party themes. What will your child’s theme be this year?
- Power Rangers
- Star Wars
Party Host Dos and Don'ts
- DO: Prepare your children for what to do in case they receive a gift they do not like.
- DO: Keep parties more low-key with children under five. A fun activity is great; too many activities can be overwhelming.
- DO: Expect things to go a little differently from what you planned. Kids will surprise you with their own magic.
- DON’T: Feel like you have to open party gifts while guests are in attendance. It's sometimes best to wait until after the party.
- DON’T: Be caught off guard. Plan for bad weather, unexpected party guests, and entertainers who may run late.
Countdown to the Perfect House Birthday Party
3 Weeks Before
- Pick theme, games, activities, food, and cake
- Send out invitations
2 Weeks Before
- Buy nonperishable items: balloons, decorations, paper goods, drinks, and prizes
- Ask a parent, friend, or relative to help at the party
- Purchase your child’s gift
- Order cake
1 Week Before
- Clean the house
- Make sure the areas where children will be are child-proofed
- Shop for perishable items such as fruit or candy, if needed
- Check the guest list to see who has RSVP’d and who has not
- Get punch bowls, candy dishes, and serving trays washed and ready
1 Day Before
- Make or pick up cake
- Make sure bathrooms are clean
- Cover table with tablecloths
- Have treat bags ready
- Make sure your pets are away from party guests
- Have balloons ready
Let the Food Be Part of the Party!
Serve Familiar Foods. Keep the meal simple and recognizable–this is not the time to introduce new food items.
Make It Finger-Friendly. Finger food is a great way to go; you don't need accidents with silverware. Make interesting shapes out of sandwiches or cookies by using cookie cutters. Decorate pretzel rods with different colored chocolate and sprinkles that match your theme.
Stay With a Theme. Use creative naming for dishes. Make edible centerpieces such as a gelatin-filled "fishbowl" for an aquatic party or specialty cakes such as a basketball for a sports party.
Choose to Bake or Buy. Decide ahead of time if you will want to make and decorate your kiddo’s cake or purchase it from a local bakery or store.
Freeze Ice Cream. Sure, ice cream is frozen already, but if you are planning to serve ice cream with your cake, try this tip. The night before the party, scoop ice cream into cupcake liners and put them in the freezer. When it’s time for cake, bring out your ice cream and they are ready to be served.
Successful Sensory-Sensitive Parties
Keep these in mind when planning a sensory-friendly bash.
Inviting guests. How many people are you inviting? How well do they know your child? You don’t want to overwhelm the child with new friends on his big day.
Where to party. While home birthday parties are popular options, you may be looking for a venue. Choose a location that keeps the party controlled without too many surprises that could upset your child.
Singing “Happy Birthday.” The surprise of everyone singing the happy tune may be too much at once. Be sure to give your child plenty of warning before the song begins or opt out.
Talk to the guests. Not everyone at the party may understand or have experience with children with sensory processing differences, so be sure to prepare guests for what to expect.
No after-party. After the party bash, give your child time to unwind. While you may want to ask him about what he enjoyed the most, he may prefer to use that time to relax.
Birthday Cards and Thank You Notes
Here are a few tips to help spread birthday wishes.
- Keep it short and sweet.
- Cater your message to go along with the theme, if you can. For example, “Happy Birthday, Princess Mya” or “All hail the birthday princess!”
Thank you notes instill a lifelong habit with your child. Use these fun tips.
- Let them get creative! Ask them what they want to say. If they aren’t writing just yet, let your children draw a picture to send along to their friend.
- Don’t do them all in one sitting. Your child can and will lose interest. ■