October 14, 2011

party planning for the sippy cup set

For his 4th birthday, my son had some very clear ideas about what he wanted--a dinosaur mystery party.  But when I asked him what that meant, he told me that it was a secret.  Of course, I wanted it to be perfect for him, so I got to work anyway.  We came up with a party plan that was totally dinosaur mystery-themed and kept everyone busy, happy, and well-fed.

We are firmly in the home-spun party camp.  I certainly have no problem with kids' parties that are hosted at a kid-friendly venue, and we love to attend them, but as a family, we prefer to host our celebrations at home.  Ultimately, we pulled together what I thought was a very fun and creative party that everyone on our guest list, from nine months to ninety years old, enjoyed. 

Herewith, some tips for hosting kids' parties that anyone can try:

I made this dino-themed invite,
along with matching thank you notes,
and printed it onto card stock for
1. Set the tone with your invitations.  I have mentioned this before, but it is really helpful for your guests if you give some hints about the event and about your child with the invitation.  Especially as your child gets older, not everyone attending will know exactly what interests the birthday boy or girl has.  Guests like to know what to expect and how to dress, and they like to have a little direction when choosing a gift.  And keep the length of the party short and sweet for the little guys.  With this age group, less is definitely more!

A guest completes her dino mystery puzzle.
2. Keep 'em busy with stations.  It works at school, so why not at a birthday party?  We set up four themed stations: Dino Chomp, Dino Dig, Dino Match, and Dino Dash.  At each station, the kids had to complete a task to earn a puzzle piece (these were color-coded) that would solve their "dino mystery".  The tasks were simple but engaging, and the kids loved having a challenge to tackle.  Every child was occupied and engaged.  This took a lot of planning and work, but it paid off.  A friend of mine has since used the same approach at her son's party with a car theme, and it worked just as beautifully for her.

3.  Know what to have someone else take care of.  Originally, I'd planned to make dino-shaped sandwiches and the cake.  But as the stations took up more of my time, we decided to outsource the food.  We ordered pizzas, including specialty pizzas for the adults, and I bought a simple cake at the store and decorated it with a dinosaur play set that we rinsed off afterward.  Everything tasted great, the kids loved it, and it was one less thing for me to worry about. 

4.  Try a non-traditional favor.  There's no question that kids love favors.  But it's o.k. to think outside the goody bag.  I first realized this when a friend of mine gave an audio book to each child or sibling group at her son's party.  She had gotten a good deal and the cost per guest came out to the same as that of a traditional goody bag.  My children thought it was terrific.  For this party, I traded with my friend Becca of Bee Sweet Cookies, and she made an amazing personalized stegosaurus for every guest.  A major hit.

Overall, the most important thing is to go with the flow and really think about what your child and his or her friends will enjoy.  Happy kids always make a great party.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, thats very interesting information. I need to share with my friends.