My son turned thirteen this week. It is so hard to believe. It seems like just yesterday that we were rolling around on the floor together and playing Chutes and Ladders. Add to that the fact that he has entered "teendome" (that's a whole different post) and you can imagine my distress.
Over the years we have thrown many good birthday parties. Some were even great. It can be a little stressful at times, but the overall outcome is rewarding and memorable. For us, having your own party cannot compare to one of the routine birthday party venues that people choose (sorry, Chuckie). It is more personal and doing it yourself means you can remove some of the uncontrollable variables that come with leaving it up to others. You just need to be armed with the right information and be organized.
While this post is primarily aimed at birthday parties for kids, you could certainly modify it slightly to accomodate a birthday party for any age. Either way, success relies on having a clear cut plan in place and checklists to be sure to don't forget any important steps or items.
One final word of warning...be flexible! Expect things to go awry and have a backup plan. Don't stress over changes. It is a party after all. Have fun!
savour... candle wishes
Birthday Party Checklist
Before you start:
Be aware of people's schedules and holidays when choosing the date.
Themes can be very helpful for those who have trouble coordinating on the fly. For a younger kid, a theme party is almost a given anymore.
Use friends and family as help to pull off a great party.
Borrow serving dishes and equipment from your friends if possible to avoid unnecessary expenses.
Having a ipod or MP3 player is invaluable for a party. Take the time to put together a playlist that is appropriate for your party and avoid having to pay a DJ or play one.
Music can make or break a party. Make sure your playlist is long enough to begin before guests arrive and last until after they are gone. Also, choose music that is appropriate for the age group attending. This can really add to the overall mood.
Do not feel bad about calling those who have not RSVP'd to your event. They may have misplaced the invitation or forgotten to call, but really wish to come... better safe than sorry.
Have a first aid kit on hand. I know it sounds a little nuts, but one never knows.
I have already told you several times how I like to make lists. This is no exception and paramount to your success. You will have a guest list, supply list, to do list, and grocery list. You may want to consider putting it all in a binder or folder to keep it in one central place. This may save you from having to send someone out in the middle of the party for the candles you forgot.
If your kids are old enough involve them in the thank you note process. This is a skill that, sadly, many have lost or were never taught.
Don't forget to add thank you notes and stamps to your shopping list. Having these on hand in advance will help you avoid procrastinating when it comes time to do this very important task.
If you have the pictures ready include one in the thank you note.
Be sure to include a few small prizes for your games or activities if applicable.
A trash/recycle station is a good idea especially if you are holding your party outdoors.
Plan at least one activity as a backup in case things go wrong or don't take as long as you anticipated.
Make a few more goody bags than you have guests. Somebody invariable brings a sibling or friend.
Be prepared in advance so you can welcome guests at the door. This will make a lasting impression.
Limit kid parties to 2 or 3 hours. That is all they (and you) can take before things head south.