Putting on a birthday bash for your kid is enormously exciting for your child, but that doesn’t mean it should equal big-time stress for you. Check out these tips for throwing a fun, engaging — and easy! — birthday party for kids, brought to you by Evite in partnership with Chiquita Bites.
Ignite the Invite. Go with an invitation that matches your child’s interests, such as a footballs and baseballs for a sporty kid, or a cowgirl-themed design for a pony fan. Kids’ calendars are packed with activities theses days, so send invitations about three weeks before the big day. Limit the party to two hours and kindly ask that guests RSVP 10 days in advance. Convey important details like “bring a towel” for a pool party or “you’ll be slumbering in your sleeping bag” for an overnight stay. Dictating the details up front, such as including siblings or letting parents know they can drop off their kids, means less confusion for your guests and less stress for you. Let your kid choose who they want to invite, but keep the guest list small. The old rule of thumb was one guest for every year of the child’s age; if you want to invite more, go ahead, but keep in mind that the more guests you invite, the more effort and cost the party will be to put together and the greater the chance that you’ll have to handle a moppet meltdown once the party’s underway.
Decide on Decorations. Give your party space instant flair with themed decorations. Take it beyond balloons and streamers with birthday banners and coordinated tablecloths. Make your own personalized banner by painting a large piece of kraft paper, then hang it low on the wall and ask guests to write notes or draw on it. (Just don’t try this with really little ones or you could end up with a decorated wall as well as a banner.) Sidewalk chalk sentiments (“Happy 8th Birthday, Aiden!”) in your driveway and on the walk in front of your home make the birthday boy or girl feel special. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make your own DIY colorful piñata, which doubles as a party activity. You can even have the kids decorate themselves with these DIY paper crowns!
Get Grab-and-Go Grub. Cookie-cutter sandwiches with turkey, cheese or PB&J are party pleasers for pint-sized kids; kids of any age will surely pounce on pizza or quesadillas. Keep it healthy by offering crunchy baby carrots or apple slices (we like Chiquita Bites for the convenience — they come in individual packages, so there’s no prep necessary). You can even set up a kid-friendly fondue bar for dipping fun. Serve water or juice in candy-colored cups and add pizazz with colorful paper straws. Finish off with cake or cupcakes. You can even have your kid choose the flavor and frosting, then give them a few tubes of decorator’s icing or gel, colored sugar and some sprinkles and let them decorate the cake or cupcakes any way they like before the party.
Keep ’Em Busy. Start the celebration with a craft project or another relatively quiet activity to keep the children occupied while guests arrive. For example, you might have the kids decorate T-shirts or party hats they can take home as favors. Other ideas: paper for paper airplanes, modeling clay, coloring books and crayons or stickers and sticker books. Next, move to a more active, er, activity. Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Musical Chairs may come to mind, but they may not be your best bet, since too many players don’t actually play at any given time. Instead, try this varation on Musical Chairs: Rather than a kid going out, they become the DJ for the next round, after which they join the group again. Or choose games kids can all play together, like charades, treasure hunts, relay races, singalongs or dancing. Finally, serve the cake, and, if you so choose, open presents. Some parents feel that opening gifts in front of the givers allows them to share in the recipient’s joy; others think opening presents during the party is asking for trouble, since their child may get distracted with new toys or be overly blunt if they don’t like a gift. Keep in mind that watching someone else unwrap endless gifts is sure to send any tot into a tailspin, so skip it if your guest list is large. If you do decide to wait until after the party, put presents in another room as guests arrive so they’re less of a temptation.
Say Thanks. Help parents make the party-to-car transition a smooth one. Give little guests a parting gift they’ll love, like a colorful lollipop that says “Thanks for making my birthday sweet!” If the party has a theme, let that guide your choice. Craft projects kids make at the party become fantastic favors, but you might also hand out blowing bubbles, yo-yos, books, magic tricks, barrettes or fancy pencils and pads. Remember to place goody bags near the door so you don’t forget to dole them out. And make sure to give your little one the gift of good manners. End the excitement on a high note by having your kiddo walk guests to the door and say thanks for coming.
NEXT: Get even more kids’ birthday party ideas.