Monday, September 25, 2006

Hosting a Birthday Party

By Brandi M. Seals

It is nice to throw a birthday party for your child and his friends every couple of years. At a young age it gives children a reason to get together outside of school or preschool. It also gives him an opportunity to cut loose and have a little fun.

The key to throwing a birthday party, especially for little ones, is to be very prepared. You do not want to leave anything to the last minute unless you will have someone else also watching over the kids. They can go from quaint angels to super hyper in a matter of seconds, so it is good to always have someone watching over the group.

Start the planning by picking a day (you may want to have the party on a weekend if your child's birthday falls during the week). Next, the easiest thing to do is to pick a theme. The theme will give you guidance and will also seem ultra exciting to kids. For example, I had a Pound Puppy party as a child. You could do anything though. Go to your local party store and see what they have on hand. You might be able to work out a Dora the Explorer party or a Power Ranger get-together. Try to keep the theme simple and make sure your kid loves it first.

Once the theme has been selected, shop for your needed supplies. You will need invitations, plates, napkins, cups, and plastic silverware. Try to get as much of that within the theme as you can. If you see Power Ranger plates and napkins, grab them. They will not only be helpful for cake service, but also decorate your table without having to splurge on anything else. Also, it is nice to give away some sort of goody bag or prize at the party. Try to also find something that goes with the party to give away.

Next you will want to order a cake. Again, if you can, get something within your theme. Most bakeries (even those within a grocery store) often have several designs that they can do. Look through them to find something within your theme or a coordinating piece. When ordering, be sure to have the bakery write Happy Birthday (your kids name here). It is amazing how easy it is to forget about the writing once you are concentrating on cake and frosting flavors.

The next big decision is what to serve. There are so many routes you can take with this, it is best to ask what your child would like. You could do hamburgers and hotdogs or a pizza party. You could also avoid a large meal and just do finger foods. Put out little sample sized foods like cheese cubes, pigs-in-a-blanket, or grapes.

Now that the majority of the planning for the food is taken care of, you need to concentrate on activities. Depending on the age of your child you will either need to be very hands on in this decision making process or let your child come up with a few of her own ideas. I like to pick something that keeps the kids active. It will not only keep them healthy, but help wear them out. Activates can range from swimming if your child has a summer birthday, ice skating for winter birthday, or even providing some sort of entertainment. You could hire a clown, magician, or other entertainer to keep the tots amused.

If you will be having the party at your home, try to avoid activities that take the kids elsewhere. For example, you could have a party at home after shuttling them over to the roller arena for skating. But, all of that can be very trying. First you have to round up all the kids, shuttle them to the activity, keep an eye on them, then shuttle them back. In that time you have probably experienced more stress then you needed (especially if it is a large party). Avoid all that by coming up with something for the kids to do at home. Or, alternatively have the party at the destination. Many places have party areas that you can rent out.

Finally, once everything has been picked up, it is time to decorate. You do not have to be Martha Stewart to impress children. Some streamers and balloons go over nicely. For the table, simply set out your theme plates and other utensils. In the center, sit the birthday cake. No fuse, no muse table decorating.

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