As much as we love celebrating the little birthdays in our lives, there are times when producing the party feels nothing less than daunting. Parents across the world all want the same thing – an inspiring, fun, personal setting that says, “we love you!” to everyone there. LB contributor Charlotte Smith of Ciburbanity practically designs parties in her sleep! Today she shares how you can pop up your party quickly, beautifully and on a budget.
“The main thing to remember – no matter what – is keep it simple. Keep it colorful. Keep it fun. There’s no need to go overboard and bring in tons of over the top décor or fancy themes. Kids enjoy being together and something as simple as a dance party might be the PERFECT activity. A few consistent touches of color and hanging accents make it feel complete.”
Let Them Help
Let your kids help create the décor. When they feel invested, they are even more excited to show their friends and enjoy the day.
Paper flowers really add pizzazz. You can make them part of the favors for your goodie bags or reuse them for other parties. Click here for an easy paper flower assembly how-to!
Table décor doesn’t have to lean toward “kid” – a simple mercury glass vase or a glass bottle with flowers feels simple and lovely.
When you have a party at home, there are a lot of conveniences and cost savings, but you have to remember that because it’s “home” it has to look different and more special than your everyday dining room. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to achieve!
What I used:
Whenever I’m planning a party, I find ONE thing that I LOVE and I try to run with that… perhaps it’s as simple as a color or… as complex as a destination (i.e. Morocco). For this party, my daughter suggested the theme: arts and crafts, so… we tried to run with that! Other easy themes for kids could be their favorite activity (soccer, tennis, swimming), their favorite hobby (Lego’s, horseback riding, video games), their favorite toy (tea party with their dolls, picnic with their teddy bears, beauty salon with their Barbie’s) or something more general like a carnival or circus theme. I try to translate the theme through the activity rather than through logos or printed party décor. If you choose to adapt the theme through images, make it one thing (the plates, a piñata) that tells the theme story, rather than every napkin, cupcake or game.
What to eat? Easy, Less-Mess Food.
Especially with smaller kids, anything that’s easy to serve and easy to eat is key… i.e. no silverware required! Pizza is pretty common, but why not put a spin on this and have the kids help you decorate their own pies? Easy chicken skewers can go right into the oven (chicken cutlets on bamboo skewers) and are ready in 15 minutes. Wraps are always a great option… grab some flour tortillas and fill them with anything from hummus to cream cheese & jelly to chicken salad. I always try to have something healthy so a fruit salad is a great option. If you want to add more flare, use fun cookie cutters to cut out your fruit or experiment with more tropical textural varieties. Popcorn is another great healthy alternative (with lots of fun serving options!). Obviously this shouldn’t be served for younger kids, but older children can enjoy all varieties.
Activities: What to do?
For any party, the process is the fun… not necessarily the product in my opinion. Pinterest is a GREAT resource, provided you can be realistic about the materials and the likely outcome. Consider the location, the weather, and the timing when planning activities. We chose two simple art projects that required LITTLE setup and LITTLE clean up. The younger the child, the shorter their attention span, so have extra activities ready for the ones who finish their project after four minutes. Kids LOVE a party favor so making something they can take home is a great solution to an expensive goody bag filled with junk. I try to avoid any games that involve too much competition… typically you’re dealing with lots of children and you just don’t know how each kid will react, so consider activities that are fun for all versus having one lone winner.
All of us are tired of trinkets, so go for something cute, quality and useful. In our house, party favors are HUGE. They love them. They talk about them. They want them. Problem is… a few cheap gifts in a goody bag multiplied by 10-20 kids can add up FAST! And as a parent, I can’t stand getting all these tiny plastic things that break on contact and cause my kids to fall apart. I try to find one item that is more “toy” and less “favor” and just get that for everyone. One year, it was a tiny beanie boo. One year it was a paint-your-own coffee mug kit. Some of the favorite favors we’ve brought home have been water bottles, Sippy cups… useful things, not just plastic. For Eleanor’s party, everyone took home the jewelry they made as well as a small set of bangles and a light-up ring. Nothing fancy, but it was in line with the theme and the kids could wear what they made. I think each goody bag cost $4.
If you’re stressing out over the party details and logistics, you’re not going to enjoy the wonder of your child celebrating with friends and family on her special day. Prep as best as you can, then dive in and have fun. A stressed out mom isn’t a good party guest!
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