There is nothing more anticipated by our children than an approaching birthday! And, at times, there is nothing more stressful for parents than creating the perfect birthday experience that pleases our kids and doesn’t break the bank. We want our sons and daughters to have a magical day when we treasure them as individuals. Let’s think about some of the ways to achieve that while protecting our own sanity as parents.

Involve our kids in the anticipation, planning, dreaming, and logistics of the party. When kids are younger it’s easy to dream up fantastical notions about parties, but with little understanding of what might be practical. For younger kids, it’s up to us as parents to give some options with limits on what to expect. Here are a few ways to involve those younger ones:

  • Ask them to pick a favorite character or theme. Is there a favorite show (that likely won’t change in the next few weeks)? Is there a love for horses, robots, planets, or dancing? Even a favorite song can be inspiration for a theme.
  • Have the birthday boy or girl start thinking about the friends and family they would like to see at the party.
  • Think about favorite flavors for cake or cupcakes.
  • All of these are ways young kids can have input on their party without committing parents to large financial costs.

Consider the venue that will be comfortable, accessible, and cost-effective. Climate will be a consideration too, if you’re thinking about holding the party outside. Sometimes a party at home is convenient if you have ample parking and space for everyone. A community center is a similar option that may keep your house from being as destroyed in the aftermath of playing kids and socializing adults. A local park is also a great option if the weather permits as kids will have lots of ways to play together. If your budget is more flexible, consider renting an indoor playground out for a few hours, as the clean-up and additional supervision can come in quite handy.

Get extra adult help. Task a grandparent or aunt and uncle with carrying out some of the key tasks the day of or days in advance to ease the burden on the parents. Remember, our kids know when we are stressed or not focused on them and that will easily sway their mood on a day that is already sugar-filled and ripe for meltdowns. Remember to also task several people with clean-up help.

Plan for extra rest. Make sure the birthday kiddo gets plenty of sleep before the day of the party and that the time of the party makes sense. Nap time is no time to have a successful party!

Know who is coming. Confirm that your son or daughter’s best friends will be there a couple days before. There are always a few who can’t make it at the last minute, so plan for that. And, having a special guest as a surprise never hurts – a friend they weren’t expecting to see, or a family member from out of town.

Don’t forget the other parents. Make sure that a few adults are tasked with keeping an eye on the kids, so that other parents can relax a bit. Having an adult beverage or special food item for the grownups is also a good idea.

Have a plan B if few kids show up, or an activity falls through. This could be something easy, as long as the birthday girl or boy doesn’t already know about it. A new movie to watch, a surprise treat, or extra game that can be pulled out of your back pocket should the need arise.

Task a grownup who is good with pictures to take the photographs that day. As a parent, you should enjoy the day with your child and not hide behind your phone. And, you want to appear in the pictures! Give that task to another and you’ll have more attention to shower on your special kiddo.

These are a few ideas to get you started. What tricks have you found helpful?

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