Some of the ways in which you can simplify your kids’ birthday parties include not using themes, keeping the guest list short, keeping the invitation cards simple, request for RSVPs, keeping the decor simple, make an adults’ corner, encouraging ‘experience’ gifts, etc and more.
Birthdays are a special occasion to all, especially those whose have not become burdened by too many candles. But, caught up in the frenzy of making their kids birthday extra special, parents often resort to overwhelming (and of course, time and labor consuming) means that exceed their budget by multiple times. Moreover, who needs all that tension, the late nights wrapping party favors or calling one decorator after another to accommodate your kid’s party? So here are a few simple tricks that will give you more time to enjoy your kid’s birthday party and put a smile on your little one’s face.
Source: Living Well On the Cheap
Ways to Simplify Your Kids’ Birthday Parties
Here are some of the ways in which you can simplify your kids’ birthday parties.
1. Themes are overrated
We must have all visited at least one Harry Potter or princess themed kid’s birthday party in our lifetime. It is now a strangely common phenomenon, as though some unwritten law has been passed that makes an outlandish, over-the-top theme mandatory in kids’ birthday parties. Themes also put pressure on other kids to dress up accordingly (because who wants to be the Dudley Dursley in a room full of witches and wizards? Or, a peasant in a land of princesses?). But don’t fall into the trap- break out of the mold. A simple birthday party without a theme can be just as enjoyable and who knows, you may even set the path for other parents to be bold and walk this less-traversed path.
2. A succinct guest list
Your kid may be turning five, but that does not mean you need to call 50 odd guests to celebrate with you. A short guest list of around 20 close friends or family members would make the party more manageable for you and you will be able to hold actual conversations with your guests because you are close to them, saving you the awkwardness of being a gracious host and making small-talk with a kid’s man you have never met before. It also makes the party to easily fit in your budget.
3. Don’t over-think the invitation cards
Just as with the themes, elaborately hand-crafted, designed or printed cards are often handed out as invitations. Remember, this is not your kid’s wedding that is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be grand. It’s his or her birthday and that comes once a year. If you are old school, you can write the invitation in a simple card and post them. Or just send an email. There are various websites which send fancy, decorated invites where you only have to fill in the message.
4. Request RSVPs
When you send out the cards, be sure to ask for RSVPs. If you find it favorable, and if all your invited guests are on a social networking site, create an event page and ask them all to respond there. Or else, they can simply reply to your email or call you up to say whether they are coming or not.
5. Lunch is not compulsory (nor is dinner!)
If you are having the party on a Sunday morning, you do not have to arrange for a brunch. If you have never promised your guests a lunch or dinner, you are not bound to provide one. This prevents the hassle of preparing a big, elaborate meal from the day before and leaves you exhausted even before the party starts. Discreetly mention it in the invite that your guests are welcome for a celebration with drinks and snacks.
6. Simple snack menus are elegant
Have enough munchies to last throughout the parties, but you need not stock 10 of every kind. Just have three savories, three sweets and three drinks. You can add a caffeinated drink like hot or cold coffee (depending on the season) for adults too. A few examples of snack menus:
- Menu 1:
- Savories (pizza, chips, cheesy meatballs)
- Sweets (cookies, rice crispy treats, chocolates)
- Drinks (lemonade, strawberry cooler, banana smoothie)
- Menu 2:
- Savories (cocktail sausages, chicken popcorn, spring rolls)
- Sweets (fudge brownies, fruit tarts, sherbet cones)
- Drinks (Raspberry fizz, mango juice, berry cordial)
7. Easy meals are great too
If you have a short guest list, you may venture to create a meal. But again, you can simplify the preparation if you are clever. Party food is best shared. So, instead of cooking gourmet food which is served in portions, prepare a big bowl or tray of food from where your guests can help themselves. Make a salad of hot-smoked salmon, watercress, potatoes, sour cream or mayo. A casserole of chicken, lamb or beef with Moroccan or Indian spices would add an exotic touch to your meal.
8. Simple décor is classy
You need not cover every surface in the house with streamers. Buy banners that can be re-used (i.e., they don’t have the age written on them). Do not buy expensive and fragile decorations as kids parties are often boisterous and may lead to extra cleanup if your trinkets break.
9. DIY where you can (and skip where you can’t)
Pinterest party projects look nice and scores you brownie points with other points. But only take on simple DIY projects like butterfly shaped garlands made from colorful tissues or colorful cupcake liners, confetti filled balloons, scrunched up coffee filter ‘flowers’. Skip on making a piñata or party lampshades.
10. Friends or family?
You can ask your kid if he wants to spend his birthday with friends or family and make your guest list accordingly. This helps you shorten the list easily.
11. An adults corner
Instead of letting adults stand back, disinterested, while their kids enjoy, create a corner for them. You create a makeshift coffee bar where they enjoy chatting with each other over a steaming cuppa.
12. Ask a friend
It’s difficult to arrange a party by yourself. So ask an adult friend to help with the arrangement and also keep excited kids in check.
13. Set a time
A kids’ party need not be more than a few hours long, but when a bunch of friends get together, it’s difficult to pry them apart from their games and fun. Sometimes parents pick them up late, which ends up, stretching the party hours. So, set a time and mention in the invitation so that parents can pick up their kids on time.
14. Encourage ‘experience’ gifts
To teach your kid the value of simplicity, encourage your guests to bring gifts that can be experienced (like a ticket to the local museum, a special movie, the zoo and so on). These experiences are more valuable than a shiny new toy.
15. Make your plan flexible
Sometimes people forget to RSVP even if they have no intention of skipping the event. So have provisions for a few extra guests (food portions, party favors and everything else). The venue should also be able to accommodate a few extra guests. The last thing you want is a stuffy, crowded party area.
16. Go easy on the entertainment front
You need not invest in a whole petting zoo or circus for entertainment. A better idea is to hire a face painter who can give them face paints and temporary tattoos.
17. Clever party favors
Don’t buy loads of $1 trinkets and toys which will be played with once before being dumped. Instead, give out edible and usable party favors like mini cookies, macaroons, small jam jars, peanut butter cups, sapling, gift certificates etc.
18. Cake is not compromise
While you want a simple party, don’t compromise on the cake. Let your kids decide what cake they want and the kind of decoration they would love. It is the life of a party if done correctly.
19. DIY projects for the kids
To keep the children engaged, you can set up a cookie or a cupcake decorating section with edible colors, icing and edible markers to decorate their own food. It’s fun and saves you the hassle of decorating a hundred cookies.
20. Talk to your kid
While you may want to put your feet up and play with the birthday boy or girl the day before the party, it is best to run your plans by your kid. If he or she makes a special request, it’s best to not disappoint them on their birthday. It is more likely that they would be quite okay with the simplifications with only a few additions.
21. No judgment allowed
Are you afraid that certain guests would not approve of this ‘shortcut’ party? Without any hesitation, strike them off the guest list. A kids’ birthday party is a celebration, not a chance to show off. You have this opportunity to shape your kids ideas of celebration, of choosing modesty over ostentation. Do not let a few judgmental eyes prevent that.
These are a few outlines you can follow, but feel free to improvise. Birthdays come and go and in the blink of an eye, your little kid will be all grown up. So all you need to remember is that you have as good a time as your little one.