Guest blogger Nicole Feliciano, the Founder and Editor of MomTrends, a blog about all things trendy and cool for families, walks us through the process of hosting a party for the little ones – complete with insider tips and tricks, favorite vendors and affordable online resources.
Thanks to our rotten economy many parents have had to scale back—but that doesn’t mean your child’s birthday has to be anything short of magnificent. Here are some of my tips and parenting secrets for a classic birthday bash at home:
Home parties should be small
Three to four kids for a two year old is plenty, add one or two more for every year to a maximum of 12. If you are inviting more than 12 children, look for a venue to host the party or pitch a tent outside.
Keep the menu simple
Don’t knock yourself out with exquisite canapés. Do offer some healthy snacks, wheat crackers, cheese sticks, grapes, etc. Mini quesadillas are a nice alternative to pizza. If you plan to order in, Susie’s Supper Club offers homemade granola bars, tasty spinach squares and yummy banana nut muffins–all appropriately kid-sized.
Limit the candy
It’ll just send the kids into orbit. Cake and a juice box are plenty of sugar. Skip colored juices and dark chocolate cake unless you are planning an outdoor party. Your carpets will thank me. If allergies are an issue, call up OMG cupcakes for vegan, gluten-free delights that look divine and are made with exceptional ingredients.
Plan on a 90-minute party
Anything longer is too hard for a large group. Here’s the basic run down.
20 minutes: Free play/Icebreaker. I like a simple craft such as rolling out a long sheet of paper on the floor and supplying crayons and (washable) markers. Here’s an idea: Have each guest lie down on the paper roll and trace around them. Let the kids color themselves in—big fun. Swing by Pearl Paint for your supplies.
40 minutes: Main Activity. Could be your husband doing magic tricks, or a clown brought in to perform. Older kids will love tie-die or a rock band party. If you are bringing in the talent, why not try something new like Wendy The Pipe Cleaner Lady who will whip up artsy creations for the kids.
15 minutes: Birthday cake, song and snack.
15 minutes: Free play (to run off the sugar). Simply crank up some danceable tunes and throw some balloons on the floor for the kids to bop around.
Hide all breakables
Instead invest in reusable tableware (a party pak) from Kids Konserve made from recycled yogurt containers.
Keep a large trash can handy
Kids can toss or recycle cups and plates and won’t have to carry food to the kitchen. The Container Store has colorful toy bins on wheels that can serve double duty. Line them with thin garbage bags for the the party and when the clean-up is done they are perfect for organizing toys.
Designate a photographer
(i.e. Uncle Joe—the 20 year old without kids)—you won’t be able to shoot good pictures and coordinate the party. If you can hire a professional, you won’t regret splurging on a photographer like Suzanne Cohen who specializes in candid photos that tell a story.
Relax and join the fun
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Your child will likely remember you joining in the festivities and bashing the piñata more than perfectly matched table settings.
Founded by Nicole Feliciano, Momtrends launched in 2007 and provides the latest news on things trendy and cool for families. Momtrends is packed with practical information and shopping tips aimed to help busy, style-starved parents find the best gear for their family. Nicole is a contributing writer to Babble.com, Time Out New York Kids, and many more online and print publications.
PHOTO CREDIT: OMG Cupcakes, Susie’s Supper Club, Wendy the Pipe Cleaner Lady and Suzanne Cohen Photography