Snacks during a Build A Bear Party
So, as you all know the Build A Bear stores are all in the malls. That is a good and a bad thing but when our kids want a certain type of party we make do with what we have…..right?
This party ended with the kids having a snack outside the Build A Bear store in the middle of the mall walkway! They so don’t care. And if it’s a mall that has tables around, you can just move a few in front of the store. Now depending on your mall, you MIGHT have to talk with them and let them know what you are doing. But I don’t think it would be a problem. People are eating out in the mall hallways all the time.
There are several positive aspects about this. You have control over the food and cake. Often when you go to certain party places, they require that you use their food and cake. Not the case here! And it’s indoors. So, no matter what time of year it will be warm and dry. Always a plus. I had a party for my son last year that was FREEZING in May and it was outside. Disaster.
Anyway, even though you are thinking of having a party at a particular store in a mall, don’t let that box you in. No matter if it’s Build A Bear or some other store, think outside the store and use your surroundings.
Directions to your Birthday Party
If you are inviting new friends or you live in an out of the way place, it’s always thoughtful to assist your guests in finding the party location! I have to be completely honest, this is a detail I personally often forget.
It seemed like for so many years we were inviting friends to our parties who knew our neighborhood. Now, that my daughter is in first grade, we are inviting a whole new set of folks. It’s no longer the kids of my friends who are coming but her friends from school. And not very many of them live in our specific neighborhood so they get lost!!!
Really all it takes is a simple sign that your kids help to make. Or get a couple of extra balloons to tie to the front gate or a stop sign where they need to turn.
Another nice gesture is to put a copy of the directions in the invitation and not just an address. I’m so dependent on my IPhone to get me where I need to go that I forget not everyone has one or uses theirs in that way. This is really easy to do if it’s your home. Just type the directions in a word doc and size it small so you don’t have to resize all the time to print. Save the Directions Document for all the parties you throw.
So, no matter what kind of party you are giving or gathering, it’s helpful to assist your guests in arriving on time and with as little stress as possible!
Magician Birthday Boy
Having a magician them birthday party? Dress your little magician for the part! Kids love to dress up.
Letting the birthday boy or girl play a part in a themed birthday party is like allowing them to be a character in a play and what kid does not act out characters ALL THE TIME? My kids want to be animals all the time but that’s off the subject! For this magician birthday party, the birthday boy simply wore a bow tie for most of the party. He also had a top hat and cape which were shed pretty quickly but he did put them back on for the magic show……if I remember correctly.
Magician dress up items can be found at most costume shops or stores or really anywhere online. But even if you just went with a bow tie, I think the above magician looks great….don’t you?
Towels for Party Guests
Are you planning an outdoor water type party? If you are having a summer party, it is just too much fun to have it at a water park, where you can turn on a sprinkler or even at a pool if the kids are old enough!
First off, it’s always good to either put on the invitation or on an insert that your guests should bring a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen. But I don’t care who it is or what age party it is…..someone…..will forget one or more of the required water enjoyment items. We’ve been to 3 water involved parties this summer and at the most recent one, another one of the little girl’s mom forgot to bring her swimsuit. Tragic! Luckily, I had taken my swim bag and it had an extra swimsuit in it! It was about 2 sizes too big but the kid didn’t care. All she wanted to do was play in the water.
So, as the hostess of a party that includes frolicking in the water it would be good to remember extra towels, sunscreen and a swimsuit or two. That is if you have extra you are willing to share. Forgetful moms and/or dads will be thankful!
Birthday Party Music
Setting the mood of your birthday party is just as important as with an evening cocktail party. Besides everyone being incredibly visual, folks are also auditory. I know that I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know! But when you are planning a birthday party, especially for kids, you get all caught up in the minutia of the party and forget about some of the other important details.
Now that Ipods are so popular, providing your own music can not be easier. Really you can’t go wrong with background music. We’ve been to parties where the music is all kids oriented and others where the music is more along what the parents like. And to my surprise, the kids love much of the adult music as well. As long as it’s up beat, the kids will love it.
If anyone is interested in play lists, let me know and I’ll get my husband on it. He’s the one in charge of music in our house! Just let me know.
The thing you first learn in any Marketing class is to provide a customer a way to buy multiple ways. The same goes in a lot of other life lessons. And this is no exception.
When you set a birthday party at a location that is either a large park or at a condo complex or somewhere you need to guide your guests to where the actual party it, you need to think creatively. We attended a party over the weekend where the hostess put streamers on anything she could to attract attention to where the party was.
This outdoor party idea came from a party we attended where the address was the birthday girl’s townhouse but the party was actually held out on the boardwalk 100 feet away. The hostess provided us 2 ways to find the party.
The first was to put vintage lanterns in the trees from her front door to the party site. The second was to draw fun curly lines for the kids to follow on the ground. So, no matter if you looked up or down, you were guided along your way to the party.
The biggest thing to remember when directing traffic is to think about where people might park, which direction they might come from and bright colors. At a park, your guests will come from many directions and it may be prudent to provide multiple party directions. If the park has “entry” points, I really like the chalk idea. Have fun with yet one more creative outlet.
Halloween Costume Chicken
O.K. I know that the chicken costume has nothing to do with the scheduling of a Halloween Birthday Party but I could just not resist. This was a costume that I made for my daughter following the Martha Stewart Chicken Costume guidelines. It turned out sooooo cute. People were looking for us on the street to see the costume.
Anyway, back to what you need to know in scheduling a Halloween Birthday Party. I don’t like too much idle time. And with 26 Kindergarteners, I certainly didn’t want any idle time. I had a good idea of what could and would happen to my house! So, I put together a packed schedule to keep my sanity in check.
4:00 Upon Arrival: All Kids had a craft awaiting them.
4:30 Magic Show
5:10 Trick or Treating
5:30 Sandwiches, Cake & Ice Cream
6:00 Parent Pickup
I’ll be posting about each of these topics if I haven’t already. I’m all about the details.
Solid Color Party Supplies
Using solid color party supplies is yet another excellent way to make an impact at your party. And often having those solid colors makes a bold impact.
At this party, we used solid plates, bowls, cups and utensils all in colors of the party. Then we added whimsy with the napkins and party hats. The addition of whimsy is not necessary but can be something as subtle as napkins or you can have everything at the party be solid with just one item having a design on it.
We are in Portland, OR and we use The Lippman Company for our solid plates and other supplies. The biggest reason is that if we over buy, they will take back anything that hasn’t been opened! I’ve seen solid supplies at Target. Many of the new party superstores overlook the importance of solid party supplies and thus I hardly ever shop them. If you want to buy them online, I found a company that has a nice selection of solid supplies. I’ve never purchased from them so I can’t give a recommendation but wanted to share the find. That company is Birthday Express.
Now go out and be creative using solid color supplies!
Photo taken by Amy Hall of Amy Hall Photography.
To open presents or not to open presents……that is the question. And if you open them……when do you do it?
Honestly, this is a tough one. But here goes and these are just my personal thoughts based on going to many many birthday parties and hosting them myself.
For kids younger than Kindergarten age, I’m not sure that it’s necessary. For those kids it can take a really long time even if there are only a few. Most of the time, the kids don’t even know what present they brought and so it’s just not as effective. For those age kids, they can get a bit overwhelmed with even 2 presents but the first one may be something they want to sit down and play with right then. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be much nicer to have the luxury of saying…..”no problem…..we’ll just open the rest of these later.” Plus, if you are trying to have a relatively short birthday party this can lengthen if unnecessarily. BUT, if there is a child who really wants to see your child open his or her present, by all means at the end of the party, pull that one out and open it up right then and there.
Now, for kids Kindergarten and older. Most parents have learned at this point that having a smaller party is better. I’m not one of those but my husband is pushing me towards it! So, let’s start with the small parties. I for sure think you need to open the presents at this age as the kids who come to the party are just as excited about this as your child will be and it can be built into the schedule of the party. If the party is a longer one, let that be an activity during a lul in the scheduled events. While pizza is cooking is the perfect time!
If you are nuts like I am and have a huge party, I couldn’t bear the thought of my daughter opening all her presents during the party. We had 26 kids to come. There were a few who asked when we were opening the presents and for those that were really interested in seeing her open the presents, we did it after most of the kids had gone home and they could sit down in a small group and enjoy it more.
The biggest thing to remember is to assign someone else besides yourself to be in charge of writing down who each present is from. I know Miss Manners says that if you open a present while the giver is sitting there with you, there is no need to send a thank you note. But I just think it’s nicer for the kids to start off early letting their friends know how much they appreciate them. So, no matter if you open the presents during the party or not, it’s good to have a record of who gave what. And it needs to be someone else who is in charge of the list since you will be busy doing other things!
Making Pizzas at a Sleepover Party
This idea is a great way to kill two birds with one stone! At this Almost Sleepover Birthday Party, the girls got to put the toppings of their choice on their own pizza square. It was a great idea to get the girls involved in the party AND it took up some time which can be a mom’s worst nightmare…….what am I going to do with all these girls for 4 hours…..
You can buy pre-made pizza crust at many grocery stores. Roll it out yourself and place on the baking sheets. Let the kids put on the sauce or it might be easier for the mom to do it. Then have bowls of cheese, pepperoni slices, peppers, mushrooms….anything you think the kids would like. Then one at a time, let them prepare their own slice just the way they like it.
Send them to tear up your daughter’s room and a few minutes later, the pizzas are ready!
Sleepover Party Pillow Case
I thought this idea was just genius. When your girls are young and still light sleepers…….have an “Almost Sleepover!” I don’t know about you, but my 6 year just begs for a sleepover and I’m just not quite sure I’m ready for that.
For this 6 year old’s birthday party, she had an “Almost” Sleepover where the kids came in and started on a craft, had dinner and cake and then watched a movie in their jammies. Instead of sleeping at the birthday girl’s house, the parents showed up at 9:00 to take the sleepy ones home to bed! Perfect.
To commemorate the evening, all the girls who attended the birthday party, signed a pillow case with a sharpie. These pillow cases can be found on the web. Search for Sleepover Autograph Pillow Cases. I couldn’t find one exactly like this one. When I asked the hostess where she bought it, she admitted she purchased it years ago at a random gift shop. Look online or make your own with permanent paints!
Creating the Atmosphere
Creating an atmosphere for a birthday party no matter what kind of birthday party, is very important. Do you remember being a kid and walking into a place that seemed magical? It may have only been that your parents moved the furniture around. Or it could have been balloons all over the place. But kids notice those details whether they say they do or not.
Here, the first thing that the kids were doing at my daughter’s Halloween birthday party was to decorate some treat bags that we were then going to use later. So, to create that atmosphere, I set the bags up on each table ready with supplies. Envision three tables full of these bags just waiting for the kids to arrive.
The other great thing was that when moms came in with their kids, there was no question as to what they were to do first and I had helping hands to get the bags created. Perfect.
Since we used the tables that we later were going to eat on, I simply put a piece of black plastic table cloth over the table cloth for eating time. This made clean up easy and glue spills NO big deal. When you are in the middle of a party transitioning quickly is something to think about.
Kids Making Playdough
Making playdough can be a rewarding activity for kids of many ages no matter if it’s at home or during a party. I make playdough with my kids all the time. They love working with the dough. I just make sure to plan the activity on a day that I don’t care if my kitchen gets messed up!!!
Following are some recipes that I’ve accumulated. My favorite is recipe #1. I would recommend you try them all and see which one works best for you. All the recipes for the playdough are very similar. Only slight variations but as with baking, slight variations will make very different playdough.
Play Dough Recipe #1
Mix together dry ingredients:
2 Cups White Flour
1 Cup Salt
4 tsp Cream of Tarter
To 2 Cups of Boiling Water, add:
4 Tbsp Cooking Oil
1 tsp Food Coloring
Pour liquids into the dry ingredients and stir well. When slightly cooled, knead for a few minutes until smooth.
Hint: Use and electric mixer and it’s sooo easy. If you are doing it by hand and the kids are helping, you might choose to put the food coloring into the dough after it is kneaded. And the better or more concentrated the food coloring is, the brighter the color of play dough you will get.
Play Dough Recipe #2
1 Cup Salt
3 Cups Flour
4 tsp Cream of Tarter
2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
1 1/4 Cup Boiling Water
Makes 4 small plastic containers of Play Dough
Play Dough Recipe #3
Mix Together in Saucepan,
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Salt
1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
3 tsp Cream of Tarter
2 1/4 Cups Water
Cook above over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes until batter is like mashed potatoes. Pull of stove and let cool. Add food coloring into the mixer or add later when the kids can knead it in.
Be sure and keep the playdough in an airtight container or a plastic storage bag and your playdough can last up to a month!
Princess Tea Party Idea
There is no better time to pull out that silver service set that you have in the closet or displayed in your dining room than for a Princess Tea Party. Using your tea set at the party may be the only thing I recommend pulling out. It’s not breakable and only moms will be handling it. Yet, you get to set it out and your little Princess feels really special being able to use it.
Don’t have one yourself? Borrow your mother’s or your neighbor’s. Most likely they don’t use their set very much either and would be thrilled for it to get some use. Have a fun tea party!
Photo taken by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.
Princess Party Food
As you all know, kids with full tummies are happy kids. Or at least it is one of the elements to keeping them happy. So, the most important thing is to feed them things that they will and want to eat!
Mask any sandwich in an interesting design and kids will eat them. For a Princess Party, cut your sandwiches in a crown design. These were cut with a cookie cutter in the shape of a crown. There were two choices: a cheese sandwich and then a peanut butter sandwich.
In addition to the sandwiches, the Princess Hostess served platters of fruit and cut veggies. That always keeps the moms happy. And it’s very easy to cut up and have prepared ahead of time!
Resources: If you put in a google search “Princess Crown Cookie Cutter” you will come up with many results for the cookie cutter that was used here.
Photo taken by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.
Wagon Gift Gathering
One of the most often forgotten elements to planning a birthday party is where you will gather and display gifts when they start arriving. I for one seem to always forget or it’s completely an afterthought. But you really want to figure this out and make it obvious to guests as they arrive. As you are greeting the kids and parents, it’s good not to look like a chicken with your head cut off.
A great way to gather gifts is in a wagon. This particular party was at a park and the hostess brought the wagon to gather gifts. Then getting home with the gifts at the end of the party was as easy as picking up the handle of the wagon and walking down the street.
There is nothing more important for a young child than to receive mail. It really doesn’t matter what kind of mail it is and it doesn’t matter if they can read yet or not.
So, what do you do when you are sending an invitation to a child and their sibling is welcome? Well, it is very important to make some kind of notation somewhere so that the mom doesn’t have to wonder or contact you to ask that uncomfortable questions if little Gary is invited to come!
Envelope Address Etiquette
These are two examples of good ways to invite siblings. The above photo shows the inside of an invitation where the following words were simply included…”Siblings Welcome!” The below photo is the back of an envelope and states “P.S. Harris is welcome too!” For me either works. There may be even other creative ways to let recipients know that siblings are welcome.
The big thing I want to impress upon you here is to state it somewhere. Please don’t put your guest in the uncomfortable position of having to ask. It’s just good Etiquette in filling out the invitation for your child’s birthday party invitation.
When planning your child’s birthday party, it’s important to think about a lot of details that aren’t party of the creative process. A big one is the need to keep everyone healthy. The last thing you want is for a bug to pass through all your party guests. With the flu as contagious as it is, you should do your part as a hostess to keep the germs at bay.
A big way to assist in eliminating germs is to provide a hand sanitizer at a couple of strategic locations around the food table. Kids often eat with their hands and it’s a good idea for everyone to lube up before and after they eat.
Photo taken by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.
To me…..it’s all in the details. The mom and dad who threw this superhero birthday party were not going to be outdone by the kids in their fancy costumers!
Rather than looking silly and wearing adult superhero costumes, they wore superhero t-shirts to show their support to the birthday boy. Now, I’m am not saying that you can’t dress up yourselves as superheroes. Mom could be elastigirl….I feel like that anyway. But if there are any of you who can get your husbands to dress up in a superhero costume, more power to ya!
These T-Shirts were found in the boys section of Target. Who knows how long they will be available there but with so many cartoon junkies, I’m sure there will always be a resource for Superhero T-Shirts online somewhere!
Extra Place Settings
When planning your birthday party it’s always a good idea to plan for the unknown…..if you can think of what those unexpected things might be.
One of them would be that guests show up that didn’t respond or originally thought that they wouldn’t be able to come. When it’s a kids party the last thing you want is for one of the children to feel left out.
Have a couple of extra chairs off to the side of your table and in the center of the table have extra napkins and forks in a tin or basket. We all have extra holders of some sort around. This is not only good for those extra guests but also a life savor for those children who drop their fork on the floor or spill a drink and napkins are needed fast to clean up the mess.
The point I’m trying to help out with this idea is that you can never plan too many details. If you have the time and brainpower, it’s always good to try and think of unexpected happenings.
Resources: Plain or colorful tins, baskets or bowls. Found at any dime, party or craft store.