Are you about to plan your child’s birthday party? Perhaps it’s the memorable first birthday, the one with the entire toddler mommy-and-me class invited, or your preschooler’s classroom event. No matter how you are celebrating, there are some key factors to keep in mind to reduce the stress and enjoy this fun milestone.
Tips for a happy and stress-free birthday party:
1. Keep it simple. No matter what the age, a simple party tends to be more successful than an elaborate one. Ironically, many parents plan a complicated event thinking it’s necessary to please their child, when the kids would have had more fun at a simple, less structured event.
2. How many guests? The maximum number of guests should be one to one-and-a-half times your child’s age. Hence, a four-year-old’s party would involve four to six friends; an eight-year-old’s party would involve eight to 12 friends. For a sleepover party, divide that number in half. (Multiply the number of guests times three to determine the number of vacation days you’ll need to recover from the event.)
3. Think before you promise! Before discussing the party with your child, take time to think about how much time and money you are willing to spend on the event. Decide in advance what you’re willing to do or not do. This preparation will prevent you from being pressured by your child into doing something you’ll regret later. After you have your thoughts in order, have a talk with your child and find out what kind of party she would like to have. It’s her party and you should consider her requests, but you are the one who should make the final decisions.
4. Party package? A ‘package’ birthday party event at a local business, such as a bowling alley or play centre, will cost more money but will be much easier on you. You don’t have to clean up before and after, you don’t have to feed the kids, or bake a cake, and you don’t have to obsess about chasing a swarm of boisterous children in your home.
5. Let your child help. Involve your child in the planning and setup. For example, a five-year-old can decorate and help fill the party bags; a nine-year-old can create her own invitations; an 11-year-old can call the skating rink to find out what dates are available and what’s included in the package, and call again to schedule the party. A child who participates in the staging of the party will tend to be happier with the end results.
6. Plan ahead. Discuss the specifics of the event with your child the day of, or the day before the event. Review what manners are expected as guests arrive, and during the activities. Talk about what manners are appropriate during the opening of gifts. Make sure your child knows to remember to look at each person after opening the gift, call the guest by name and say ‘thank you.' Talk about what responses are appropriate if she opens a gift that is something she already has or one she doesn’t like. Play-act a few funny situations and your child will remember to correctly do this.
7. Set a plan. Create a specific schedule of events. You can modify this slightly during the party, but having the plan will ensure that things run much more smoothly. You won’t be in the middle of opening gifts when all the parents arrive to retrieve their children and have to endure their annoyed glares as you hurry your child through the unwrapping process.
Elizabeth is a mother of four, and author of the bestselling No-Cry Solution series on topics such as sleep, discipline, picky eating and potty training. She is known worldwide as the voice of practical, respectful parenting. Visit her blog at elizabethpantley.com. Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Discipline Solution (McGraw-Hill) by Elizabeth Pantley.
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