We would like to introduce you (again – you might also remember her from our Mompreneur feature) to one of our favorite sponsors, Heather, owner and party planning extraordinaire, at the Palm Tree Playground. Today she shares her best tips and considerations for party planning with you!
If you don’t think “party” and “stress free” go together, I hope to change your mind. I, like maybe you, have spent my time researching birthday parties for my daughters. My research has included countless hours at night on my computer “pinning” ideas and then even more sleepless nights creating the craft projects I have lovingly found online. I have fretted over my budget or worried I would run out of time to get “everything” done. Then something magical happened. I opened my own indoor playground and helped other parents plan parties, and I learned a universal fact about kids’ birthday parties: CHILDREN JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN!
Everything else at the party, other than the fun, is just a bonus. Therefore, I have created my list of the top 5 things to do to have a “stress free” party. Hopefully these ideas will help you the next time you get ready to add a candle to the cake for one of your kiddos
Define your Party Style
This may seem basic, but it is absolutely essential. If you set parameters for yourself up front, you can save a lot of time and energy later. For instance, maybe your neighbor just had 45 kids to her house for a three-year-old party. She went all out with entertainment and food. However much fun that was, perhaps your child likes a quiet party with only a few friends. Both are fabulous parties; they just have a different vibe. Do not feel like you have to “keep up with” everyone else when party planning. Be true to yourself and your child and you will all have a great experience! Consider the following when deciding what type of party you want to have:
- Do you like big events that include the whole classroom and neighborhood kids or do you prefer having family kids only at your party?
- Do you like to stay at home or do you love party venues?
- Does your child have to have a certain party theme or could he or she care a less about decorations?
- Do you combine your parties for all your kids with close birthdays or does each child have a separate event?
Define your Budget
If you get real with your budget from the start, it will alleviate stress later. Here is a list of items to be considered:
- Guest List (more on this later)
- Venue: Home, commercial party venue or park
- Decorations, balloons, party supplies and paper products
- Food and drinks
- Performer, character, entertainment, game or activity
- Special birthday outfit for birthday child
These are the top items that affect your budget and you certainly do not need them all to have a great party. Always consider what you can make yourself. (Maybe your Mom loves to cook?) At my daughter’s party she really wanted the fairy Rosetta to make an appearance. There were two problems with this. I could not find a company that had Rosetta as a character and the only costume online I found was $400! So, I had to think outside of the box. I asked my babysitter if she would mind dressing up for the event. Then I went to Forever 21 and purchased a rose-colored dress and hair flower and found fairy wings online. I gave her a jar of glitter (fairy dust) to sprinkle on the girls’ heads and the costume was complete. They all loved it and the entire outfit was $21.00!
Control your Guest List and RSVP’s
Alright, I know it is not just me when I say no one RSVPs these days. Every mom who walks in our doors says she has no idea how many people are coming to her child’s party. That is a problem because a huge part of your budget will be determined by how many kids are going to attend your event. It seems that regardless of your invitation style (paper or electronic) parents just do not RSVP. Although this is extremely frustrating, I have determined to get around this problem by starting my own text message RSVP system for my own kids’ parties.
Here is my tip: A few days before the party send a text to each guest you have not heard from yet. Although this is extremely time consuming, it saves money later. Here is a sample text, “Hi this is Madison’s mom. Please let me know if McKenzie will be at the party Saturday as we need a head count for food. We look forward to seeing you!” This serves two purposes: first it confirms who is invited to the party, and secondly it allows you to know if they are planning to attend your party.
If you chose a venue that costs more money if you have extra children attend the party, you can be honest about that. Many parents will ask if they can bring siblings. One idea to handle this is to let them know a certain amount of children are paid for already. They are welcome to bring a sibling but it will be $x dollars.
Another insider tip: We all have parties for our kids and we all know that extra kids cost more money. Parents normally have no problem paying for their additional children who are not invited to the party. Just be honest!
I love party decorations but I realized that I was spending so much time on them that I was completely overwhelmed trying to set them up on the day of my party. So now, I have a motto for this, “Only do as much as what won’t make you crazy!”
If you enjoy decorating, Pinterest can be a huge help when determining a theme and how to execute it. If you have small children, keep it simple. Most little kids want to play with the decorations because they are usually something they are incredibly interested in at that moment. So instead of getting upset because they are “ruining” the camera ready table take your photo before the party starts and they see it.
Here are my top choices for budget-friendly, simple but cute decorations:
- Choose your theme or colors and repeat them with everything you have. You don’t need a lot of items, but consistency throughout makes for a visually appealing party.
- Tablecloths transform a space very inexpensively. Use one for the cake table and any other table available for your party space.
- Let your cake or cupcakes (which you already invested in anyway) be part of the decorations and a focal point.
- Make a banner. Pick up some craft paper at a store like Joann’s and make your own birthday banner with your child’s name. It not only decorates and personalizes the room it also becomes a keepsake.
- Helium balloons are a crowd pleaser! If you pick them up the day before your party, make sure to ask for the special helium that lasts 24 hours. This way if you have an early morning party you can still have balloons without having to run around to get them the day of the event.
- If you are going to do favors anyway, make them part of the decorations. Personalized cookies are the most popular favor we see. Typically we display them around the cake and they fill the space and add color pops.
- Party stores carry a variety of table toppers that are themed to match your party.
Start saving your empty diaper boxes. Why? Because they make excellent storage boxes for organizing your party items! If you are having your party away from your home, consider labeling the boxes in advance with easy headings such as food, decorations, favors and party ware.
We have noticed that regardless of how many decorations a parent has, the number one factor of stress the day of their party is feeling disorganized when arriving at our venue. Parents who have everything labeled and separated can tell us easily what we need to do to accommodate them and decorate their party room. Create a “Party Check List” (or use this one) to feel organized the day of your party.
I hope these tips help you plan your next party. Remember, the event is only a couple hours long and you want to enjoy it as a special family memory. If you would like to know more about Palm Tree Playground and how we can help make your party experience at positive one please check out our party packages and contact us by phone, on Facebook, or Twitter for more information.
Get Inspired by Other New Orleans Moms
- Very Hungry Caterpillar / LSU / Minnie and Mickey Party Recaps by Janie
- Backyard Camping Inspired birthday party by Andie
- Storyland birthday party by Linzy
- Jane’s Winter One-derland 1st Birthday by Jennifer
- Sesame Street / Mardi Gras birthday party by Ashley
- Old MacDonald 1st birthday party by Amber
- The 1st Birthday: How Much Is Too Much?
- Go to Gift Ideas for Toddler Birthday Parties