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Monday, July 28, 2008


Nowadays it seems that children's birthday parties are getting more and more elaborate. I think it is a tendency of this nation to "try and keep up with the Jones'." One has to remember that with preschoolers, the simpler the occasion the more fun it is for them. Also, your 3/4 year old is not going to remember that you hired Cirque de Soleil for entertainment, Rachel Ray for food, and had a hot air balloon in your front yard for decoration. Sit back for one second, can you actually remember what your birthday was like at that age? If your family was anything like mine, it was probably a family party with cake, ice cream, and presents.

For my family, we still hold pretty close to the majority of birthdays being family events. My children had their first friend party at age 5. Following age five, we did not have parties every year. I usually allowed a friend party at 10, 13, and 16, somewhat major milestones in my book--the 16th party being the hardest.

Another thing we have done for these friend parties is to try and have them at home. Now, I know this is not a big draw to many families today. The major reason I hear is--"Then I don't have anything to clean up!" I definitely agree with that, but sometimes a party right at home can be more comfortable for your little one and some of their friends. They are in a familiar place with lots of recognizable things around them.

I thought I would post some pointers I find very helpful with young one's birthday parties. Then, I have had a few successful parties that I would like to share with you in case you might be looking for ideas. All the parties I will share will be for parties that I had for my children when they turned 5. I hope you find these helpful.

Some helpful tips:

1. Keep it simple. Very important and it also is a benefit to you. You won't run yourself ragged trying to be perfect, and they won't be so overstimulated that everything ends in disaster. Have plates, cups, utensils, food containers, etc. that can either be thrown out or recycled. Keep decorations to a minimum so it still looks familiar.

2. Don't have too much food. I find that cupcakes are the best--especially those mini cupcakes. I usually have ice cream cups, and the drink is usually Capri Suns, or another type of single serve juice drink. I also usually have pretzels and chips. Easy to eat and a favorite with the little ones. They are not going to eat much. The trash usually sees more action in the food department then they do.

3. Don't plan too much. They are going to want to play with each other--that's priority #1 to them. I usually plan one craft and one activity along with the cake and presents.

4. Don't worry about cleaning your house from top to bottom(I better remind myself of this one.) The kids are going to come in and pull out every toy they can find. You'll want to make sure the bathrooms look good and the floors, but don't worry about every nook and crannie. I know this is good to follow, but if you are like me it's going to be hard. I find I have to clean everything even if my sons bring their girlfriends home--oh well.

5. One thing I do for preschool birthdays is to prepare for parents to stay. I usually make sure I have some coffee brewed and enough cupcakes if they would like to stay. At this age I find most parents are more comfortable if they can stick around. Sometimes it's easier for the kids too.

6. Don't invite too many friends. I think the guideline most people use is to invite as many children as your child's age. This way things aren't too overwhelming for them--or you.

7. Finally, it doesn't have to be an all day event. One and a half to two hours makes for a good party time.

My next few posts will include the types of parties I had and what we did there. Hope you enjoy them.

So, there you have it. I hope these will help you with your child's next big day. Remember, make it right for you and your family, not for the people down the street. Have fun.

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