A friend emailed me yesterday with the idea to write this post. She's wanting to throw a great kids party but is a little intimidated by the details. Here was her email:
* Think ahead. If you start thinking about the details of the party a month or two in advance, you'll have time to get creative and save some money in the process. Once you've decided on the theme, keep your eyes open when you're out and about for ideas and deals on party items and goodie bag treats. If you're creative, take this extra time to make items that might cost more if you buy them ready-made. This weekend, I saw a suggestion online about making your own party signs using butcher paper and kids paint. We have a kid's easel, so I had all of the supplies on hand. 20 minutes later, I had three free party signs that saved me big bucks. I contemplated buying a colorful banner with stickers to spell out our event title...I probably spent the same amount of time painting the signs as I would have putting the sticker banner together and I saved myself $20.
* Decide what's important. I know a mom who threw a Carnival Party who puts her time, money and attention into the invitations for her kids' parties. Another friend puts her time into making amazing cakes. Pick one or two things to make an impression (if that) and stop there. Don't stress yourself out about doing everything over-the-top. When all is said and done, your child will remember having all of their friends around, not how much time you spent on every little detail.
* Solicit helpers. Grandparents and friends are usually willing to lend a hand...but you need to ask. Pass your camera to someone else so you can enjoy watching the candles get blown out. Hand another parent a pad of paper and a pen to jot down gifts as they're opened for the Thank You notes. This isn't a one-man show. If there are extra hands available, may as well utilize them!
* Prepare your child for the etiquette of opening gifts. For young kids, I strongly recommend opening gifts after the party. It's not always popular with your guests, but this avoids meltdowns from your child and it's less stress for you. Picture your 3-year old tearing open paper and ungratefully tossing each package aside, looking for something better. Or worse, he finds the perfect gift and refuses to open any others until you dismantle the package and let him play with that particular present...NOW. Last year, I spent a few minutes the day before the party explaining to Ryan that after each gift is opened, he needs to thank the giver before moving on. I was skeptical, but he did an awesome job. He even opened one homemade card and, holding it upside down, scanned it gasping, "THANK you!!!" He was really trying to be appreciative. I was so proud.