Does planning for your little one’s birthday party leave you a tad deflated? Between our yoyo team’s families, we have over 50 years of experience throwing a birthday parties, so we have a few tips to share. While everyone agrees it’s easy to get wrapped up in decorations and food, the real key factors for your party planning success (in terms of your budget and sanity) might surprise you. Here are our secrets to help make your next party a piece of cake.
pick your venue: Home or park-based birthday parties are budget friendly, but if that’s not an option this year, renting a venue will be your first priority. Think community centres, play gyms, swimming pools, art studios, gymnastics clubs, or a trip to your local science centre. Be warned that most of these places will cost you around $200, but you’re paying for convenience: this fee usually covers someone from the venue entertaining the kids, as well as handling set-up and clean up. Of course, the pros to having a less-spendy party at home are that it’s more flexible and tailored to your kiddo … just make sure you’ve factored the extra time and energy involved into your planning.
give some thought to goody bags: The key to goody bags is to plan ahead so you’re not buying a bunch of breakable junk at the last minute. Instead, pick a store like Vancouver’s Dilly Dally, Toronto’s Loot Lady Toys or the online resource Green Planet Parties for an assortment of treats: think temporary tattoos, art supplies, cute erasers, and a piece of not-too-junky candy (though in a pinch, chocolate coins are always a crowd pleaser, especially at a pirate party). For the actual bags, try paper bags or Chinese takeout boxes that the kids can decorate as a party activity. Building on that, plan a party craft that becomes the “goody”, or gift takeaways – we once received a lovely packet of wildflower seeds and planting instructions in lieu of stuff. And this “magic” playdough mix we found on Pinterest is a great option, as are these awesome superhero photobooth keepsakes.
strategize your invitations: You say you want to track who’s coming, but also give your kiddo a chance to make invites? Do both: send out a “save the date” email to parents with a free service like Evite, and let your little one follow up with “real” invitations later. As for how many to invite, you can try using a rule of thumb like “your child’s age plus two”, but keep in mind that rented venues often have guest limits. Inviting parents is another decision point: if your child is older than 4, or the party’s at a rented venue, you’ll want to be clear about whether parents are expected to stay (and if it isn’t clear at the next party your child attends, a gentle “would you like me to stay?” is a great way to open this conversation).
present opening: To open at the party or not? Some do, some don’t, but personally we prefer waiting until kids are old enough to be gracious about all presents (ones they love and ones they don’t), and can handle the excitement involved. Similarly, thank-notes are a personal choice: some years we manage to do thank you cards, and some not. If you’re into making notes, we recommend a low-stress solution like color-photocopying a “thank-you” drawing from your child as a card, which (depending on their age) can be personalized with either her friend’s name or a lengthier note.
And try to have fun! All birthday parties are a little crazy, and that’s okay … and if it’s not okay, that’s what left-over birthday cake, grown up beverages, and parent friends are for, right?
Yo parents, are you looking for more ideas? The party doesn’t stop with our Pinterest boards – have a blast with these reads: