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Pirate Birthday Party Captain

Pirate Party Captain

Pirate Party Captain


Let me hear you say “Arh.” These were common words to hear coming out of this captain’s mouth. At birthday parties, moms and dads are often busying around with the party and all the details that go with it and aren’t enjoying the party itself. Whether it’s a pirate party or another theme altogether, you are going to have the same experience.

Just like you might hire a caterer or servers for a dinner party, hire a party “captain.” This gal was part of a package that the birthday boy’s mom purchased at a local store that sells pirate garb. But even if you are having your party at home, you can still do this. Now, I’m not talking about an entertainer. I’m talking about a person who takes the planning that you have set into motion and carries it out. This leaves you to pay attention to the pirates or to other moms.

A college student would be perfect but really any responsible kid could carry it all out. My daughter “big kid helps” at my son’s preschool. She is only 7 and totally guides the little ones in the activities for the day. I don’t see why she wouldn’t be able to carry out the basic functions of a birthday party if she were allowed to be in charge.

Regardless or not if you have someone else run the party for you or it’s you yourself running the party….don your favorite pirate captain’s costume and it will make the party all that much more fun for the kids. And it helps you get into character as well!

Extra Towels for Party Guests

Towels for Party Guests

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!

When do you Open Presents at a Birthday Party?

Opening Presents

Opening Presents

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!

Gift Gathering

Wagon Gift Gathering

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.

Keeping Germs at Bay!

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

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.

Extra Place Settings

Extra Place Settings

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.

Left Over Party Favors

I don’t know about you but I seem to always have left over party favors. Honestly, I’m always paranoid that more kids will show up than what I have favors for and I don’t want anyone going home empty handed!

Now the question is what do you actually do with these extra toys and such???  Well, we keep them on hand to give other kids who weren’t able to make it to the party but give us a gift.  Or we even give favors to kids who invite us over for play dates post party.

What do you do with the ones that are still left over?  I’m at a loss.  Many of them get integrated into our own toy box but then we have numerous of these around.  I can’t wait for them tear up or break.  Do you have any good suggestions of what to do with these left over favors?  Please share your ideas.  We can all benefit from them here!

Birthday Party Planning Timeline

Birthday Party Timeline Brainstorming

Birthday Party Timeline Brainstorming


In planning your birthday party, you need more time that you think.  Unless you plan to go out and purchase everything out of a box and give it to someone else to organize, planning a birthday party does take some thought and effort.  But with the right tools your brainstorming can be a pleasurable experience!  Below we’ve put together the best Birthday Party Planning Timeline for those of you who like to stay organized.

6-8 Weeks in Advance

  • Choose Theme/Idea for Birthday Party with your Child (There may be a fair amount of negotiation in this step and will take longer than you think!  I’ve been negotiating with my child over her next Birthday Party and it’s 7 months away!)
  • Plan a Date and Time
  • Locate a party facility and book it.  (or have the party at home)
  • Quiz host location on what service/items they will provide or help you with.  Every place that caters to birthday parties will have their own system and it’s good to know that up front.
  • Email Save the Dates

4 Weeks in Advance

  • Make Guest List
  • Create Invitations or order them from a stationer
  • Plan Events or Activities
  • Decide on Decorations
  • Look for and decide on Party Favors

3 Weeks in Advance

  • Make or begin making/assembling Decorations
  • Make or begin making/assembling Activities
  • Make or begin making/assembling Favors

2 Weeks in Advance

  • Send Invitations (could also be sent earlier but if you email a save the date, folks should already have it on their calendar and this is just a toggle reminder to get the kids excited)
  • Order Cake or Decide on Cake to Make and what it will look like

1 Week in Advance

  • Order Food or Decide on Food to prepare.

2 Days

  • Confirm with Cake Maker and Food if ordered or begin grocery shopping/preparing.
  • Charge Photo and Video Camera Batteries
  • Decorate if at home or assemble everything that goes to the party in one location.

Post Party – Within 2 days

  • Write or have your child write thank you notes.  They don’t have to be professional or long but must be done and the sooner the better.
  • Gather all keepsakes and put in one location (photos, wrapping paper for scrapbook pages, sample of invitation, sample of thank you cards, favor…..)

Most of all.  When you are starting your next Birthday Party Planning Session…….Have FUN!