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Planning your child’s birthday party should be fun and easy – not stressful. Yet the demands of work, home and everything else can leave you wondering:
“How will I pull together a great birthday party for my child without having to invest a ton of time or money?”
I’ve been there, done that, and rest assured it's totally do-able. Here is my all-in-one guide for saving your sanity while hosting a great party.
1. The birthday party location – at home, or at a party venue?
The first thing to decide is whether to have the celebration at home or at a party venue. This is something which is up to you. We've done it both ways on different years. Having your party at home can be a great way to have more flexibility or to pursue a specific theme more easily, since party venues can be restrictive on things such as what type of food may be served, what types of decorations may be used, and so on.
On the other hand, a party venue relieves you of the need to provide entertainment or party games since it’s all there. Also, most party venues offer you the services of a party host for an extra pair of hands cutting the cake, serving drinks and so on. You don’t need to worry about clean-up at a venue either.
I’ve also found that cost isn’t necessarily cheaper to have it at home – there are a lot of hidden costs to hosting a children's birthday party at home: themed decorations, prizes for games, and more food options all equate to higher costs. You’ll probably find that one of the more affordable local venues is similar or even cheaper than having the party at home, without any of the worry of having anything accidentally knocked over or broken.
That said, having it at home is also fun and is in many ways more memorable for the guests since there are only so many party venues in town, so they've probably been to those venues for other parties. I have some kids birthday party ideas and activities at home a little further down this article. So don't stress if you're wondering how to organize a birthday party at home - I've got you covered.
2. Party decor - themed or not
Themes are totally optional! Most kids care a lot more about having fun than whether there is a theme. If you want an easy yet awesome kids birthday party theme, some options that I’ve used in the past very successfully are things like:
- Specific colors – a one, two or three-color combo
- Seasonal – you wouldn’t believe how easy this is! I did a "winter wonderland" theme for my youngest’s last birthday. Depending on the season your child is born, a beach / luau party can be a great option, or a fall theme, and so on
- Pick a popular theme which is readily available such as licensed characters
In my experience, the fastest and easiest ways to get inspiration for a theme without having to make anything yourself is to browse what’s available in the invitations, party plates and decor you plan to use. Pick something your child likes, and you’re set!
If you're having your party at a venue, you may have restrictions on what decorations you can bring in (they usually provide their own), so check their policies. Usually they will be OK with you adding your own decorations to the party room so long as you remove them after.
Remember, the key to picking a theme is:
- Finalize the theme only after making sure you can get the decor or party items you want in that theme at an affordable price point
- Remember that the birthday child and guests probably won't care if there's a theme or not. They'll love party decor such as balloons, but they won't care if it follows a specific theme or not.
Ultimately, the bottom line of this step is to get balloons and decor for the party but not to worry if it follows a theme or not. Do not spend too much time, money or effort on this.
3. Plan the birthday party ideas and activities
This step is only necessary if you're having the party at your home, since a party venue will have built-in activities. I've hosted plenty of at-home parties, and this list of kids birthday party ideas gives you tons of fun indoor games and activities. These ideas get the kids moving and keep them active the whole time.
There are many fun and easy ways you can do your invitations, including making your own. Unless you’re super-organized though, you’ll probably find that email invitations are faster and easier than purchasing printed ones or making your own.
If you want to stand out above the usual Punchbowl or E-vite invitations, I highly recommend Greenvelope for email invitations. They have a great selection of kids birthday party invitations in all kinds of colors or themes. They look really trendy, and you can have Greenvelope handle the RSVP’s for you electronically. You have plenty of options where you get to set things up just the way you want there. You really feel like you’re getting the white glove treatment, yet pricing is still cheaper than printing and mailing your own invitations. And your invitations will stand out to your guests – in my opinion the Greenvelope kids party invitations look a lot classier than the Punchbowl or E-vite ones, yet pricing is very affordable (around $1 per person).
Email invitations like those above tend to be by far the most widely accepted and usual method of inviting people. Parents often have email addresses and/or cellphone numbers to send text invites to parents from their child’s class even if they don’t have their physical address to mail a printed invitation.
5. Party favors
Rest assured party favors are totally optional. This is an area where you can definitely save money on a kids party by having cheap easy favors, or none at all. Some party favors I’ve seen are things like:
- small individually wrapped chocolates (e.g. Dove brand) in a small bag or mini box – great for all ages
- A mylar balloon each (this can serve as part of the decor during the party)
- special school items – a cute matching pencil and ruler, for example – great for all ages
Don’t get hung up on party favors. Keep them fun, easy and simple. If you’re really into your theme, these can also be a great way to continue the theme, but there is no obligation to theme these. For added kudos, I do individually wrapped chocolates for parents, in addition to whatever favors I give out to the children. It really makes your child’s party memorable in the eyes of the adults as well as the kids.
Yes, it is possible to host a fun easy children’s birthday party without requiring a ton of extra work yourself. Just follow the steps above and you’re set!