This is the first party we are planning with dd's friends invited. We plan on being in the backyard with the sprinkler and baby pool. We'll have a game or two (water balloons), a simple craft, a pinata as well as cake. How long should we plan on the party going? 2 hours or 3 hours? There will be up to 6 girls and I expect some parents may want to stay. Also, does anyone have any advice for what to do or what to not do? I've never done a kids party before and would like it to smoothly. TIA!
DD2 12/09 & DS1 12/09
Make sure that if you have things to give away (favors) they are all the SAME. The number of breakdowns I have seen over so and so got a blue one and *I* wanted the blue one is immense! You think variety is the spice of life, but not when you are that little!!! We have a saying at Ds's preschool when we are buying new supplies get "all the same and no one's favorite color"
Don't assume they are going to want to engage in prearranged games. They might just want to play. Organized games are great to have on hand, but don't be upset if they only do them for 5 mins and move on to some other kind of play.
SNACKS! Kids love food! Having snacks in addition to cake is essential or they will get too hunger and grumpy and then sugar high and then crash.
Ha. We never do matching favors. And they are rarely themed. And I don't like more than one like in a goody bag because then it is a big pile of MIC trash waiting to happen.. We stick out a basket of a variety of things and everyone can choose something they like. Extras go into my secret closet of mystery. Kids really like it and I've never had a meltdown. The funny thing is how parents, if they are involved, always try to steer their kid towards the more expensive things.
Favorites include dover stickers, dover coloring books or mazes, schliech figures, art supplies of various kinds, playmobil figures, lego figures, duplo figures, little plant kits, fairy wands, seed packets, etc.
two hours, make sure the invitiation makes it clear what food is being served, plan some sort of activity that kids can join or not...
On the invites say 2 hours but in your own head plan for 3 as you will have some stragglers. This is what we did this year with DS birthday and it helped me to stay relaxed.
As far as a loot bag I did do a loot bag this year and last year and pretty much made them all the same but in previous years I have done books and play silks we also usually give each child a balloon. I have DS hand them out as the child is leaving and say thank you for coming to his party. This has worked well.
So far I have not done any planned activities as DS is only 4 and so far we have had his birthday at a community centre that has a big indoor play structure (he is a January baby) We do free play for about an hour and then I call the kids together to have some food, sing happy birthday and have cupcakes and then free play for the rest of the party. I like doing cupcakes as it saves time having to cut the cake. We usually don't open presents with all the other kids there but this year DS' friends wanted him to open his gifts so we did but I don't think we will do that again. It went ok but then they wanted to play with the gifts and I got stressed about losing parts etc since we were not at home.
I do like to do a theme like if I was doing your daughter's b-day the theme maybe the water or the beach or something. I would prob decorate the cupcakes with blue icing (if you do food colouring) and little fish or star fish. And the take home gift I may do a sand pail with a few sand toys in it if going for the beach theme or maybe some water toys if just going with the water theme.
Anyway I think a lose structure is good at this age. Have fun!
Scarlett , DH Boris , DS 1/29/08 Julian DD2 6/7/12 missing our DD 1/06/06 Sonja and MC @ 9 wks 11/18/06 Satchel
Go with 2 hrs, you will find that is plenty. If everyone is doing well, people will probably hang out for a bit after anyways. I always keep some carrot sticks or watermelon out so that kids can snack as they want, and generally provide a bunch of finger food buffet style for lunch. Have a few games in your back pocket in case things need more organization - toilet tag is always popular here, or soccer sharks (basically keep away with a few soccer balls - all but one start with a ball, and the one without the ball tries to get the other balls out of bounds. when they do, the kid who lost the ball becomes a shark & the 2 of them try and get the other kids balls out of bounds). Bobbing for donut holes was extremely popular as well - i used a bamboo skewer on a string to hold the donut hole. I like to have a craft of some kind for while the kids are arriving, usually decorating the plain paper loot bags or party hats, or making decorations for the party. Water is a great idea, squirt guns, water balloons, etc are great - but make sure you have a backup plan in case the weather sucks.
Thanks! I'm putting 2 hours on the invites, but will plan on longer. I was planning finger food (not over meal time) and cake (of course). Dd was not in favor of cupcakes and is begging to "order" a cake, so I guess my cake decorating class will not be used this year. Oh well. Now I just need to work on the goody bags and back=up games in case of rain. I'm starting to get excited. . ..
DD2 12/09 & DS1 12/09
Don't worry about putting out a lot of food, particularly if the party isn't over a mealtime. IME, the kids are too excited to eat much and a lot will go to waste. After a few years of scraping platefulls of food into the compost, I started putting out sliced fruit and veggies and dip, and cheese and crackers and that was generally more than enough for a 2 hour party.
I helped throw my niece's first big birthday party with friends and we went all out. Full on ice cream / pool party. The ice cream route can be a little messy, but the girls had so much fun! It's always a good idea to put everything you plan to do on the invitations. Obviously, give a good time frame, we put 3 hours, but it was such a beautiful day, some parents ended up hanging out while the girls continued to play. It might be a good idea to have some extra food for any parents that stay or hang out afterwards. The invitations and favors were from Tinyprints, which I highly recommend. They came out perfect. It was such a fun party to throw, since this is one of the first birthdays they will actually remember!