Pre-Party

Planning the List
If your children are old enough, involving them in the planning can be almost as much fun as the day itself. Letting them help will make them feel like they’re a part of it, and it can be educational as well.

• When to start – Starting about 5 to 6 weeks prior to the big day will make it easier to get things done at a pace that’s more relaxing.

• Picking the date and time – It’s a good idea to make sure those “key” friends are available before you pick the date. If the party is for younger children, consider making it earlier in the day, before kids take naps. Two hours is plenty of time for a successful and fun-filled party day.

• The Theme – The theme of the party will set the mood. Choose something you know your child loves. Along with a famous character or sports, there are a lot of fun ideas that can make the party special, including a color-themed party, a pajama party, even a backwards day party, where the guests wear their clothes backwards and you eat cake first. Use your imagination!

• The List – Does your child like big crowds? Does he or she have a few close friends? A party with only four kids can be just as much fun as 14.  You don’t need to feel obligated to invite the whole class and the whole soccer team.

• The Invitations – This is where you hint to the guests what you have in store for them. Make them colorful and fun! The only rule is to make sure your guests know the date, the time, the place and how you’d like them to R.S.V.P.

When choosing an invitation, you can go into your local store to find pre-printed invites or send them via email through FREE sites like Egreetings.com.

If you’re mailing your invitations, let the little ones put the stamps on the envelopes. The older ones can help fill out the names and addresses whether printed or online.

Planning the Menu

• The Food - Keep it kid-friendly and mom-friendly by going for food that doesn’t need a lot of silverware – pizza, chicken fingers, chips, sandwiches, carrot sticks – anything that can be eaten with your hands.

For added fun, consider letting the kids create their own plates with a taco bar, a pizza bar, etc.

Remember to check with moms to see if any kids have allergies.

• The Drinks - For a no-spill day, consider a tub filled with different flavored juice boxes.

• The Dessert  - Candles aren't just for cake anymore. There are so many new and fun ways to honor the birthday girl or boy, and can be a fun activity to keep the party guests occupied. Consider having each guest decorate their own cookie, make cookie ice cream sandwiches, or one big cookie with frosting.  Another fun idea is to place cupcakes together on one plate and place a Birthday Cookie on top of each cupcake, giving each guest their own birthday decorated cake.

Party

The secret to a successful party is keeping the guests occupied — yet not overwhelmed! A few fun games and crafts is all you need to keep everyone happy.

Party Activities
Here are few age-old favorite game and craft ideas that have been keeping kids happy for years. For more ideas, search the web or visit your local library.

• Cookie Walk - Just like a cake walk ... but instead of giving cakes as prizes you give out cookies.  Simply write the numbers one through twelve on colorful paper, and tape them to the floor in a circle.  Explain to the kids that while the music plays, they will walk around the numbers on the circle. When they hear the music stop they will stop on the number they are standing on. Roll a dice and whoever is standing on the rolled number wins the cookie. It’s a fun game that also teaches kids their numbers.

• Freeze Dance - Put your kid’s favorite music on and have them dance.  When the music stops they have to freeze in whatever position they’re in. The first one to move is out. Keep playing until there’s only one child left. He or she is the winner.

• Make Your Own T-Shirt - Purchase white T-shirts for each guest, plus fabric markers and paint. Let kids design their own shirts in honor of the day.  They’ll love wearing their own creation, and you’ll have one less thing to add to the goody bag. Plus, they’ll remember the party every time they put it on.

Opening the Gifts

• Creating a Gift Thank-You List  - Make sure you prep your child on the importance of thanking each guest for their gift, no matter what it is. Keep a list of who gave what, to make thank-you note writing easier later on.  If you’re too busy, ask an older sibling or a visiting parent (if they’ve stayed) to help.

• A Goodie Bag - If you plan on giving guests goodie bags, consider filling them with small pieces of candy, birthday take-home cookies or other fun prizes that don’t break the bank. Fun ideas are a glittery pencil and eraser, a superball or marker, even balloons. 

Post-Party

First of all, give yourself a big pat on the back. You did it! You not only created a memory, you’ve instilled a tradition in your child that he or she will carry on with his or her own children one day.

• Thank-You Notes - If your children are old enough, let them come up with their own words. If they’re too young to write, ask them to tell you their thoughts and write them down on their behalf. Or you can ask your child to color a special picture for each guest.

Putting in a picture from the party is a great way to help your guests remember the day.

You can purchase thank-you notes, have your child make them or visit Egreetings.com to send them via email.

Instead of birthday cake, consider having each guest decorate their own cookie or make one big cookie with frosting.

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