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Party Planning is a Piece of Cake

Birthday parties can be tricky. As a parent, you want to do something special for your child’s birthday, but at the same time, it can be tough to have a party with a ton of kids go seamlessly. An easy fix: keep it simple, but add one or two of these unique ideas to liven it up a bit.

The cake -
A fun alternative to a classic birthday cake: cupcakes! Find out before hand which flavor each of the children prefer, chocolate or vanilla, and buy accordingly. Get the birthday boy or girl a special cupcake, and put three candles on it. Put one candle on each of the other cupcakes, and after everyone sings Happy Birthday, and your child has blown his or her candles out, the other children will get a chance to make a wish and blow out a candle, too!

Places to party - If you’re not up to throwing a party at home, check out some different venues around town. No fuss, no muss. Kids are sure to keep busy with the fun activities that are provided, and you don’t have to worry about setting up for or cleaning up after the party. For smaller groups, look for a place that charges per child rather than a flat rate, which is better for larger groups (typically eight or more). Check out the 2012 Winter/Spring Birthday Party Guide in the January/February issue of Calgary's Child Magazine - either print or online - it’s a great place to start! It’s chock full of great venues around town that host children’s birthday parties.

Themes - Having a theme party can be an exciting way to celebrate a birthday. Unless you can supply the costumes, try to keep it simple so the parents don’t feel obligated to go out and purchase a costume. Many costumes can be made at home from things found around the house with the addition of some supplies from a craft or art supply store. Check out the list below for a few easy party themes.

  • Party animals! Ask all of the kids to dress up as their favorite animals. Decorate the party room with vines and leaves, have an animal decorated cake and play movies like The Jungle Book and Over the Hedge in the background.

  • Movie stars. Have the children dress up as their favorite movie star, be it an animated character, like Shrek, or a cast member from Glee. Anything goes!

  • Hawaiian. Bring a little bit of heat to the chilly winter with a Hawaiian luau. Pick up some leis, grass skirts and Hawaiian-themed decorations (palm trees, flowers) at the dollar store. Prepare a feast of cut-up fruit, small sandwiches and vegetables with dip, surrounded in seashells and flowers. Visit to find some great ideas on how to throw a Hawaiian-themed party.

Activities - Don’t underestimate the classics! Musical chairs is still fun (just make sure you use the music they love!), and so is a piñata. Get some face paint (Michaels and Chuckles have a variety of face paints), and paint the children’s faces. You don’t have to be an artist to do it, even simple designs like flowers or stars are fun! You might, however, need another adult to help you out if there are a lot of kids.

Decorations - It seems daunting, but decorating is actually the easy part. Pick up streamers in a variety of colors and hang them all over the place; get some balloons filled with helium (get a few extras so each child can take one home); and throw some colorful confetti on the floor, countertops and tables (it can be easily vacuumed up later!). If you’re having a theme party, be sure to add some extra decorations with the theme in mind.

Goodie bags - Oh, candies - the staple of goodie bags! Head over to a candy shop and make a little bag with a dollar’s worth of candy (from the 5-cent bins) for each child’s goodie bag. On top of that, get some stickers to fill up the bags.

So when you’re getting ready to throw your child a birthday party this year, don’t stress; just pick a couple of the above ideas to make your party unique, and you’re set!

Stephanie is a freelance writer specializing in travel and food writing. For more information, visit

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