That being said, I am a pinterest addict; I have pinned dozens of fantastic ideas that I could never afford, but they really are quite spectacular. My five-year-old LOVES parties. Loves planning them, cooking for them, decorating, etc. She seriously makes up holidays so she can craft for some parties. I have come up for some rules to host a fun party that doesn't break the bank OR spoil the child.
1. Limit your guest list.
First think about the MUST invites: grandparents, siblings, cousins, etc. Do a head count. For me, that adds up pretty quickly. Now, since all of my children are still in the "Parents-still-must-attend-the-party" age, I have to factor in at least 3 people for every 1 kid in case both parents want to attend. I usually tell my girls they can invite 1 non-family friend. That way my guest list stays under 15 people total. I don't think it's necessary to have all of her friends from playgroup or church come. We don't have a big enough house, and we can always meet up with them at the mall or playground (a place where I don't have to clean or cook...)
|Rainbow-Castle Theme Party|
2. Choose a theme-but don't be STUCK in it.
I let my kids choose the theme, because my girls LOVE it. However, I give them choices and suggestions (heavily-influenced suggestions). We brainstorm a ton of ideas surrounding the theme, but we make sure that EVERYTHING doesn't have to fit--or sometimes that gets too crazy.
3. Go crazy on pinterest-- but then edit--heavily.
Would I love to do everything on my "party-planning" board? Heck-yeah! Is it reasonable, affordable or necessary? Definitely not. I limit my party to the cheap, free, or easily done categories. Think about the time and money for each idea and weigh the importance. Would the sparkly, glitter balloons look fantastic as under-the-sea bubbles? Sure... do you really want to have that much glitter in your house? With toddlers? No.
4. Set a budget for each category.
I have a decorating (aka Dollar Store) budget of less than $6. Usually that is: one bag of balloons, one roll of streamers (they come in two packs so I usually have other colors from previous parties), one table cloth, and plates/cups. I have a food budget around $30-40. Present budget: less than $10. Seriously. I shop on craigslist and garage sales. Prizes/games: usually around $5. So total, around $60.
5. Be prepared to be creative.
I do most stuff myself. Am I a fantastic baker? No--but I can sure make a mean Duncan Hines cake.... PLUS, with candy and cones I can LOOK like I know how to decorate! My children LOVE to make the decorations. We take pinterest ideas of kids crafts and use them for decorations. We've made flowers, rainbows, castles, paper chains, etc. The kids have a fantastic time transforming our house using construction paper, paper plates, and tissue paper, and it makes the build up to the party better! Instead of buying kits for Pin the Tail on the Donkey we make up our own versions such as pin the bunny tail on the bunny. Made from a quick drawing and glued cotton balls. We've become quite creative!
6. Don't skimp on food.
Since my parties are attended by mainly adults, they are not going to be playing our kiddie games; they will be eating. And in the spirit of my mother's parties, there is always WAY too much food--but that's a good thing. People like to eat while mingling so don't leave them bored or hungry. I don't plan parties around dinner time because that food is usually more expensive. The lunch/brunch time slot works best for the kids, naps, and my budget. Also, if your sister or mom insist on bringing a dish-let them! Serve lemonade, iced tea, and water. Have a few juice boxes for the kids. Make your own cake (with bought icing can cost you around $3), and serve chips/pretzels in bowls for snacks. For the main dishes I usually do two (i.e. shrimp tortellini or taco salad--recipes to come). I always have a hot appetizer and a salad of some sort. Since my drinks & dessert are less than $6-7, it's not hard to spend the rest on the main dishes.
7. Keep in mind the POINT of the party.
Does your 1 year-old need a million presents? No. Does he/she really have a clue about what this is about? No. Honestly, I don't usually get my under-2's presents when I have a party. They get ENOUGH stuff. And my brilliant sister-in-law listened to my suggestion one year and gave me a box of puffs, organic fruit snacks, etc.--all edible and age-appropriate stuff! It was the best gift for a third child you could ever give!! The POINT of these parties is really about having fun with family and friends. The people who come won't care if things don't match or you don't have matching silverware, etc. And your kid should not become a little selfish child who demands gifts, attention, etc. If my children misbehaved on a regular basis or demonstrated entitled or ungrateful behavior--I would NEVER EVER throw them a party. Seriously. No way.
|Easter-themed (day before Easter b-day)|
Now, this all being said--- I do love cooking, crafting, and coming up with creative ideas (see--another awesome alliteration!). I am sure Emily is laughing hysterically at this post, as she is NOT quite so into throwing parties--which is fine too! Your kids will NOT know the difference if you just host simple family parties with bought ice cream cake (though Emily actually makes quite creative cakes). I enjoy these parties so I keep doing them!!
Rule #347 Throw parties if you want to for you kids! Just don't spoil them. Watch a few episodes of MTV's Super Sweet Sixteen, it will keep you grounded.