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Party Planning Tips from the Trenches

Planning your child’s birthday party can bring a lot of stress into your life and take up a lot of your much needed alone time. As the years go on, it seems children’s birthday parties are becoming more elaborate and time consuming. Not everyone can afford a petting zoo or a circus in their front yard.

Children are very imaginative and creative, which should be kept in mind. A simple card board box can transform into a rocket ship or a race car when your eyes are young. Use this to help make the process easier.

Maureen Wulff, mother of two grown children, reflects on her previous birthday successes. “When my daughter was young she was really into princesses. My husband has some drawing skills and drew up a five-foot princess and matching crown. The kids played pin the crown on the princess for hours while I got the goodies ready.”

According to Wulff, it’s fairly simple, but you need to know what you are doing. She has let us in on some of her experienced tips:

  • Set a limit to how many friends your child will have over to eliminate chaos; perhaps your child, plus four or five of their friends.
  • Plan a theme and base the party around it. Kids love to dress up and make believe. Throw them a pirate party, or a Harry Potter themed bash.
  • Be creative with your theme ideas. Remember that children are imaginative. If your child wants a pirate themed birthday party in the summer, bring out the old tin row boat, or an inflatable raft. Stand a broomstick upward in the middle of the raft and sturdy it with sand or duct tape. Attach an old sheet from the top of the broom, and Voila! You have yourself a makeshift pirate ship.
  • Plan out activities from the time the guests will arrive, all the way until they leave. For example, have the children arrive around 5, or whatever works best for your schedule. While you prepare a simple dinner, have the children set up at a large table and supply them with materials for making paper pirate hats. After eating, let the children go wild with presents while you clean up and prepare the cake. After cake come the wild, sugar high children. This is the perfect opportunity for them to get outside and play on their pirate ship and run around.
  • Plan simple meals for the party to avoid all of your energy being caught up in cooking and preparing. Buy an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and skip out on hours of baking.
  • Give out little party bags to all the guests when they are leaving. Brown paper bags are cheap and work great for party bags. You can draw on them yourself, or have your child decorate them. Party favors are simple for children. Go to the dollar store and buy cheap rub-on temporary tattoos and other pirate memorabilia for incredibly cheap.
  • If it will make things easier for planning, get a note pad and plan the party out on paper. This will allow you to see more clearly what you have, what you are missing, and what you will need for the party.
  • When summer comes around, children love being outside, and it’s a great way for them to stay active and burn off all of that birthday cake. Keeping the activities outside, (if the weather will allow it), and sticking with themed ideas will keep the children’s interest up.

For more tips and ideas for planning your child’s birthday party, browse the Internet. Do a Google search for “Kid’s birthday planning” and check out some of the websites. To save you some trouble, here are the most popular sites:;; and

Good luck, and remember to have fun with this project!


Alicia has just graduated from SAIT's Journalism Arts program. She enjoys writing editorials, feature stories, and short fictional stories. Alicia also writes music and lyrics in her spare time. Her hobbies include writing, playing music, and promoting local struggling artists. 

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