Friday, October 22, 2010

Keeping Parties Simple

Birthdays are an exciting time in a child's life. Another year older, some presents, maybe a party, family and friend gathering, presents, cake, center of attention, presents...  On the parents end, think about getting another year older (maybe not as fun to see your baby getting so big), party or not to party? Who to invite if you decide on the party? When to have it?  Who to invite? How many to invite?  How many will come? All the details of planning, not mention the cost that can be associated with it.  The focus should be about your child not how big or fancy you can make it.  Save those times for special occasions

Many parents decide to choose a birthday party place and let others do the work for them, which definitely can be a stress reliever. Some decide to throw a party at home to save on cost. Whichever way you chose, it can be very easy to get carried away in the planning and costs of either option.  Next thing you know, you have invited the entire class, plus all the relatives, have decorations for every room, a fancy cake... you get the idea.  Also, you can spend a lot of money trying to keep up with other kids' birthday parties, or you can keep it simple and still have a lot of fun.

Five "Keep it Simple" Ideas
Birthday parties don't have to get out of hand.  Here are 5 tips to help you vow to yourself to keep it simple. From Simple Fun Kid Parties-Helpful Hints

1.  Keep the guest list simple.  One guide is one guest per year of your child's life.  So if your child is three invite 3 guests...Age ten, invite 10 guests.  Some times guilt plays a part in how many people you invite. Remind yourself that your own child isn't invited to all the parties that happen out there.  You could throw a party for friends and then have separate family gathering or one year a family party and the next year, friends.  Keep the guest list to friends that your child mostly hangs out with.  Then send in a treat for the class. Teach and model discretion.  Everyone doesn't need to know that your child is having party.  (I tell my kids also not to talk about parties that they are invited to because you don't necessarily know the guest list.  Why invite hurt feelings when you don't have to?)

2. Keep the decorations to a minimum.  Would your child rather have a lot of decorations or a few extra presents? You could probably guess the answer. Your child will still have fun even if the whole house isn't decorated like a jungle.  You can pick generic type decorations that you can store and reuse, that will also help offset your overall budget.  Then you can buy a couple of themed items or even make them.  As kids get older they like to help, so put them in charge of making some decorations.  Streamers and balloons can be a cheap but festive alternative to fancy decorations (By balloons- I mean the kind that you can blow up yourself and leave them laying around your party area with only a few helium filled. That usually ends up to be an activity- playing with the balloons!)

3.  Put your energy into planning fun games and activities for the party or a fun-type venue.  There are plenty of party planning sites (this one included) that can help you plan some fun and simple games.  It's what the kids "did" that tends be remembered the most anyway.  So less decorating and more games!

4. Enlist helpers.  Whether you are having a party at home or not, a good way to reduce some stress, on your part, is to enlist family, friends or one or two parents of the children coming to the party.  Give them things they can do or ask them how they would be interested in helping.  This way you can also enjoy the party.  (Though, that doesn't mean they are throwing the party for you.  They are your helpers.)

5.  Set a budget and stick to it!  Money can be a big stress factor for birthdays.  It is easy to get swept away and not think about how much everything adds up to until the bills start rolling in. 
  • Decide a head of time how much you would like to spend on the overall party and then break it down into categories.  For example, decorations, cake, presents, entertainment, venue, food, invitations, etc. 
  • Look for ways to scale back or make your money stretch further.  Can you make the invitations or do e-vites? What if you make the cake or have some creative friend help you out? Can you borrow things for decorations or games?  Can you get by with plain colored plates?
  • Keep an envelop of your birthday receipts so you can keep a running tally on the envelop with your overall allowance written for each category.
  • More party, less presents.  On party years, I explained to my kids they could have a party OR have more presents.  We do parties every-other-year.  My kids have always chosen on their birthday year to have the party. (Ours have always been at home, even at age 14 and counting).  They understand that the party will cost extra money, so they will only a few presents then from us.  They understand and are good with that.  The more you talk about with your kids, the more they tend to understand. :o)
For more ideas, check out Simple Fun Kid Parties-Helpful Hints

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