Every parent wants to throw her child the most awesome birthday party EVER! And every parent can. It just takes a little work and planning. Not only can you be the best parent, but you can be the coolest. Dare I say it? You can get those very much sought after (especially once the child is preteen) hugs and kisses!
We all know you need decorations, a cake, and some guests. Sometimes that is enough to make it awesome! But here are a few tips that you may not consider that will make it awesome for your child.. and you!
Listen to your child.
A few months before your child's birthday, begin to listen to what she likes. Ask her to begin a list of what she would like for her birthday. If the party is a surprise, that's no problem. She knows you are going to do something to celebrate her birthday... she doesn't have to know it's a party. If he plays things a little closer to the vest, watch what he is watching on television, the games he is playing, the music he is listening to on his IPod or on the radio. Use these ideas to come up with a theme for the party. Then do it in moderation. Everything does not have to be World of Warcraft, but find clever ways to incorporate it into the activities of the party.
Determine if it is a stay or drop off party.
Do you want other parents to stay and watch their children? Now, there are several things to consider. First, will the parent's presence inhibit the child? You want the guests to be able to play and interact with other children. Will the child consistently try to "hang under his/her mom's wing?' If you think the children will be more likely to have fun without parents watching, consider letting parents know when they can pick up their children. This will subtly say “You will not be here the entire time.”
If parents do stay, determine if you want to have another space where parents can socialize without overshadowing the party activities? You do not want the clown or entertainment competing with parents' discussions. Do you want to have any adult beverages? Wine and cheese perhaps? There have been lots of debates on if moms should sip while their children are on play dates. You have to determine where you stand on this issue.
What about pets and siblings?
A party is a big deal to other "siblings" (furry ones included). There is often a competition of attention and it can detract from the party -- for everyone involved. Of course you want siblings to participate and honor the birthday girl/boy. However, you have to have a plan for how siblings will be kept from throwing tantrums and "ruining the party."
For siblings, be sure to talk to them about the party. Let them know that is it their older sister's special day and we are going to honor her. If there is a gender different or large age difference, this might also be a good time to have them spend some time with one of their friends. Be sure to have some type of small celebration with the sibling so that they do not feel banished, but depending on the level of rivalry, removal may be the best option. If the sibling is old enough or mature enough to be at the party, have him or her help with some tasks. If the birthday boy is going to open gifts at the party, have his sibling hand him each gift. Perhaps the sibling can give out the pieces of cake to the party guests. Make him feel like an important part of the celebration even if it's not his day.
For pets, consider taking them to a friend's house or even boarding them for a day. Many kennels offer day care for dogs. This might be a great opportunity for Fido to meet some new friends and have a day out of the house. Just remember to get shots and have vet records sent to the kennel well in advance of boarding. Also remember that they will come home exhausted from all the playing and barking they will do, so be prepared to give them some rest -- all of you will need it after the party anyway.
Have an assistant that is not a parent.
Many parents think other parents will “help out.” Parents will even offer to take pictures or serve food -- don't let them. While parents may have the best of intentions on helping, they often get caught up in the party and completely forget to take pictures or order the pizzas. Get a planner and event coordinator who is going to bring an assistant and take care of the activities. That way you and the other moms can participate with your children, take some me time, or have a parallel gathering.
So once you have figured out these often forgotten considerations, it will be an awesome event for you and your child!