How to Treat Your Child to an Amazing Birthday Party!
There’s nothing wrong with having a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese or a place with bouncy houses, but with just a little planning and effort, you can throw a birthday party that people will talk about for a long time. My husband and I consider planning our 2 children’s annual parties as a hobby. We work on them all year round and we can take our time and spread the costs. If you choose your theme well in advance, you can afford to wait for sales, clearances, and coupons to purchase a large number of supplies.
The most important thing to decide is the theme. Your child will most likely have 2 cents to invest in this, unless he is small enough to allow you to decide. With our oldest son, we decided as soon as we were born that each year we would choose a different continent as our theme. When he turned 8, he was finally able to choose his own. With our youngest son, we are going through different periods of American culture beginning with the California Gold Rush c. 1850.
Once you have the topic, you can use a simple outline of what you will need and start completing it.
The first thing you will need is an invitation to send. Most people are computer savvy enough to do a simple desktop publishing from their own computers for this. All you need is some nice blank note paper or cards, and you can give the details on the inside. We always liked to stay away from the boring look of filler fields and rather make it relevant to the topic. For our son’s Egyptian feast, it was a 1920 telegram announcing the discovery of a new tomb and asking other archaeologists to come and help with the excavation. The invitation should set the stage for the royal party. For example, the telegrams were printed on brown parchment paper and used a real telegram font for printing. They slipped into windowed envelopes like the old ones. An Egyptian decal sealed the envelope, and we printed CAIRO in faded red lettering on the front as if it had been sealed. The stamp itself is very important. Do not use any new postage just because it has the correct postage. You can use any issued US stamp as long as it has not been canceled. eBay has tons of unused vintage stamps, and I bet you can find many that suit your theme. You may just have to use multiples or get different to match the correct amount.
Next, you will want to give some thought to the decorations. You want to transform your house into a place of your theme. Using the example of the Egyptian group again, we created an archaeological site by cordoning off the courtyard and setting up tents. The tomb was the largest tent and inside was a cardboard sarcophagus, canopic jars, animal print blankets and everything we thought looked like it would have been in a tomb. Try to keep this in mind when shopping, do not choose items printed with “themes”. Ask yourself what people would have actually seen and used. For example, Indiana Jones would not use plates, cups, and napkins with his face on them. Most likely, you use some kind of metal mess kit, bamboo plates, coconut shells, etc.
This is where my husband and I disagree. He thinks we should serve baby food no matter what. We invite the entire family of each child who receives an invite, so the meal is not just for the children, and I want it to be an educational experience as well. (Definitely plan to have enough food for the adults too. I’ve been to parties before where the food is “just for the kids” and the adults are hungry). For the Egyptian feast we had kebabs, hummus, baklava, and yogurt drinks. . I just looked up Egyptian recipes online and chose what sounded good. We made the cake to look like the 3 pyramids on a cake board sprinkled with crushed graham crackers, and added little shapes and trees. Make sure you have enough to drink, especially if the weather is warm. Allow 3-4 servings of punch, water, soda per person. Make sure to prepare as much as you can ahead of time so that you are not in a rush on the day of the party.
Nothing creates the atmosphere of a party like music. For the Egyptian party we got a cd of the music they played on the King Tut tour (from 30 years ago, not from the current tour). It sounded ancient and mysterious and a bit unsettling. For games, we sped things up with the theme of Indiana Jones and “Walk Like An Egyptian” by the Bangles. For the Indiana Jones party we played 1930s jazz at the Obi Wan Club and an Indiana Jones soundtrack in another area of the house.
This may seem strange, but there are a variety of scented oils, candles, and incense that you can find that also enhance the atmosphere. Think about how it would smell. Are you by the ocean, in the desert, in the forest? Match the smell of your house. Remember that you want to indulge the 5 senses to evoke the feeling that they have traveled through time and ended up in your topic.
GAMES AND ACTIVITIES:
Have you ever been to a party where there is absolutely nothing to do or maybe just a rented bouncy house? Children get bored after a while or go crazy and get into trouble. I’m right? Have you been there? You want to keep your party structured structured structured. In fact, I give a timeline of the event at the beginning so everyone knows what is happening and when. I plan at least 3 games, and then a craft or coloring activity as well. Some children will refuse to eat and will need something to keep them busy. For an Indiana Jones party that we threw, we had the kids crack a code, choose the correct Holy Grail from various options, find a diamond and a vial of antidote in an ice-filled pool, paint necklaces, play a game of stealing the grail, and walk on steps in the correct order to spell IEHOVAH. It is better to have too many activities than not enough.
You probably want to invest in some special prizes for the winners of the games. Again, sometimes you can find really nice things at deep discounts.
GOOD BOXES OR BAGS:
Make them as unique as you can. For Indy, we found mini wooden boxes on Craigslist. With a bit of stenciling, they looked like the box in which the ark of the covenant was placed. We placed a museum tag, a mini sankara stone, a small Coronado cross, an antidote vial, a plastic diamond, a gold coin, a spider, a snake, a rat, an insect and an archeology club pin. . We also gave each child a plastic cup (grail) to take home. Give one to each child. Adults do not need to receive one.
Yes, gifts are different than goody bags, and you should have enough for all the guests. I usually make cookies and put them in those nice clear bags you can get at Michael’s. Again using the Indiana Jones theme, we bought a replica of a helmet for Ra’s staff on eBay. My husband left an impression on sculpey (just like Toht did with his hand). I used this to make springerle cookies and even melted crushed orange lollipops in the centers to make it look like a gem. After baking I brushed them with edible gold petal powder and they looked pretty clean. Instead of wearing the silver tie that comes with the bags, we tied museum tags to them with rough string.
Lastly, you’ll need some pretty thank you cards to send out after the party. It’s nice if you can find time to take photos of the party guests to include. For a Pirates of the Caribbean theme, we took everyone’s headshots as they walked in and didn’t tell them that there is a special feature on the DVD that allows you to make images “cursed.” It was really creepy, but also fun. Our guests were surprised when they received them in the mail. You probably don’t need to have as many thank you cards as you do invitations because not everyone was able to attend. You can spend a little more time making them personal, especially if you have scrap booking skills. Use stickers and cutouts and make it a bit three dimensional if you can.
That’s! Phew! If you’ve made it to the end of this, you probably already feel drained, but take your time and focus on one thing and you will get there.