Balloons, streamers, and games galore are the hallmark of a child’s birthday party, but they aren’t the only components. How do you plan the perfect event for your little angel? By following these steps you can plan a party to be remembered.
Step one: Decide on a theme. If your child is very young you can create a party around their favorite toy. Another popular option for a baby’s first birthday is to match the theme of their party to the theme of their nursery. As the child gets older they can help you decide what the theme should be based on what they like. Once you have a theme, party details will start to fall into place.
Step two: Find a venue. Many birthday parties for very young children are held at home because that is where the child is most comfortable and they can be put down for a nap easily if they get sleepy during the party. A park is another good option if the party will be held during a time when the weather is suitable. Parks allow kids the freedom to run around and be loud without disturbing anyone else. As the child gets older their interests will change and they may want to have their party at some place like a water park or rock climbing wall. If you are having the party at a venue outside the home then you should plan to make reservations at least 6 to 8 weeks before the event, as dates tend to book fast. There will probably be a deposit required when you book your venue.
Step three: Determine a color scheme and decorations based on the theme of the party. For example, if your son loves fire trucks the color scheme could be red, white and black to mirror the colors of a fire truck. Kids love balloons so make sure to include balloons in your decorating plan. They can be blown up and tied or taped together to form archways and other shapes, made into crazy shapes, or just blown up and tied in bunches in a more traditional way. Let your imagination run wild as you tie into the theme. You can even hire a balloon company to come to your home or venue and create a balloon sculpture for you. Sculptures can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands depending on the size and venue. If you are having the party at home, try to add some small decorations throughout the common areas in your home. Going back to the fire truck themed party, an easy way to tie in other areas of the house would be to place various sizes of toy fire trucks around the house. You could put fire truck pillows on the couch for a cute touch. Since popped balloons can be a choking hazard, you’ll also want to be sure to keep an eye out for popped balloons and remove them immediately.
Step four: Order the invitations or create your own. Now that you have determined the theme, the venue, and the color scheme you just have to decide on a date and time and order whatever invitations that you like and that go with the theme. If you can find a designer to make a customized invitation, you can upload the image and print them onto most any photo sharing website.
Step five: Create the menu. Depending on what time of day the party is you will need to determine whether you need to provide a meal or not. Many people will opt for heavy appetizers in lieu of a full meal because kids tend to pick at their food. The food can and should tie into the theme as well. For instance, with the fire truck theme you could serve chips and “fiery salsa”. Labeling your food items with cute place cards is a nice way to inform your guests what each dish is. If your theme is Noah’s Ark each dish could have something to do with a different animal, like monkey grub (cut bananas), elephant memory pills (peanuts in the shell) etc. The cuter the presentation the better the food table will look. Coordinate the table coverings with the color scheme, as well as the dishes, that you serve the food in. Remember to place dishes on different levels on the food table. Not only does this add interest to the table, but it allows you to get more food onto the table. You can use boxes or cans under fabric or another table cloth to cover up the mechanics of your tiers. Putting snacks in little cups on a cake stand works well too. Serve 3 to 4 different appetizers with only one being hot if you are going with heavy appetizers. When going with light appetizers plan on serving everything at room temperature.
Step six: Set up a dessert table as the focal point of the whole party. Hang a back drop behind the table that goes well with the theme. Plain fabric works well or a big photo. Dress the table with linens and levels similar to the food table. Place the cake on a pedestal in the middle of the table at the highest spot. Make sure you make or order a beautiful cake since it will be the centerpiece of your dessert table. Just as with the food table, tie in small desserts with the theme. If your color scheme is pink and white you could fill an apothecary jar with pink jelly beans or other pink candy. Make sure you supply your guests with a scoop and small bags so that they can take some candy home with them. Also consider including some type of cookie on the dessert table. Shaped sugar cookies to go with the theme will tie everything into the dessert table as well.
Step seven: Entertainment is key to any successful party. Hiring a face painter or magician to entertain the kids will keep the party rolling. Otherwise, come up with some games that will tie into the theme. Pin the tail on the donkey is a tried and true game and can lend itself to almost any theme. Pin the tail on the dog for a dog party, pin the eye on the fish for an undersea party and the list goes on.
Step eight: Party favors are an important part of any party. They can be as simple as a picture in a frame to a custom box wrapped with a satin bow containing a gift. Try to tie the favor into the theme as well. If it’s a fairy party send home a wand, some pixie stix, and a small fairy doll. If it’s an undersea party you could send home a small lace bag filled with sea glass.
Do as much as you can ahead of time so that you can be a guest at your own party. Recruit a few friends to help watch the food table so that you can replenish as needed. Take plenty of pictures. A luxury that you could incorporate into your party plan is to hire a photographer to capture every moment of the party so that you can enjoy yourself and your child and not stress about making sure that you get every shot.