Planning At Home Birthday Parties
Now the grandma of seven, I look back at the birthday parties our kids used to have and wonder why the at home birthday parties disappeared. Today’s parties are held at the gym, bowling alley, or restaurant, where all the details are handled for parents. Granted, today’s moms and dads are often more likely to both be working, but I was a working mom and still enjoyed planning my daughters’ birthday parties, choosing the party theme, creating the goody bags and planning the food and cake decoration.
We always started with a theme. It was often a decision based on many days of serious discussions between my daughters who had a mind of their own and me, wanting to make them very happy. Often my ideas of a Safari Party or a Beach Party were met with the simplicity of the youthful mind inquiring, What is a Safari, Mommy! From here, the learning began and with every step along the way, all the way up to Sweet 16’s and their Weddings, planning a party theme was a family ritual we came to love.
After we decided on the theme, a trip to the party store was next. We didn’t have the vast number of party stores on the internet so we were forced to venture forth into the vast land of the local party goods stores. It was fun watching the kids pick things out and help them make choices.
The week before the party we set up a production line to make the goody bags. Even a three year old can participate and it’s a great opportunity to get them involved in the party process. It’s an excellent lesson in organization and counting. Start by counting how many of each item you need and put them in piles, then walk behind the birthday girl holding a goody bag and have her put one of each item into the bag. Place each bag into a box or basket to give out at the party.
A day before, or the morning of the party, set the tables. Once, again, let the birthday girl take part in the activity it’s her party! If you have balloons or centerpieces, place them on each table. A simple centerpiece can be made by wrapping a potato in tissue, twisting the top, and attaching a few balloons. Quick and easy.
When your guests arrive, have an activity ready to keep them busy. Local high schools and colleges have students who face paint, do magic, or can help with simple games. This is well worth the price. For a great party, try to make the activities match your theme and end off with quiet time before cake where you can read a story related to the theme. Children are used to this time and will easily come to listen.
Another thing I miss is opening the gifts. Today’s moms don’t seem to do this. Perhaps, they think it takes too much time, perhaps they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but whatever the reason, it’s just a shame. What’s a party without presents?? I’d love to see this tradition reinstated. I, for one, miss it!
After the party, sit down and talk to your child about the events. What she liked, what she didn’t like and use this as quality time to make this day a wonderful memory! And don’t forget the thank you notes!