This past weekend, my little Squish turned 1 year old. I don’t have the time to get into how complicated my feelings are about it. What I CAN talk about, is his adorable Monster themed first birthday party.
Parties are sometimes stressful events. They tend to come around during the most poignant moments in life. They celebrate new babies, new relationships, friends leaving for new adventures, and others joining our lives. Sometimes planning the party gets wrapped up in the emotion of the event and its difficult to take a step back a really think about the event. At their basic elements, all parties are the same and they all need five great things.
1. Great food
Food is one of the most memorable aspects of your party so make it something to remember! With that in mind, making it unforgettable doesn’t mean spending all your time devoted to planning and preparing your food. Choose foods that are easy to prepare, serve, eat and clean up. Simple dishes can be special too – the display can really help give it that special touch! Also, have fewer options and select foods that can be prepared in advance. Both you and your guests would much rather have you spend time enjoying the party rather than being stuck in the kitchen.
For drinks – set up a self-serve beverage bar. Allow your guests to be creative and create their own drinks. Feel free to include fun drink decorations such as mini umbrellas or flag toothpicks.
For The Squish’s party I opted to make his cupcakes and smash cake, but I bought all the rest. Keeping the guest list in mind (about 16 toddlers) I knew that my time and effort would be better spent outside the kitchen.
2. Excellent Entertainment
First off, music sets the mood of the party so take some time (plan ahead!) and create a party playlist. Secondly, what will you and your guests do? Plan some type of group activity such as a photo booth, outdoor game, dance session, movie or group an indoor game such as charades or Pictionary. Keep your budget in mind – it may change some of your ideas but don’t let it hinder your creativity!
For our party – I knew that I had to have options. Kids have short attention spans and therefore will want to change activities frequently! Since our target audience is very young, we made a play area in the middle of our space, blocked in by benches for the parents to sit at. Mini beach balls, a blow up punch toy and pool noodles led to plenty happy faces.
For the older children we put together two craft areas, making monster related crafts. Not only were the results adorable, but I found that several of the parents made them too!
We rounded everything out with a game of “Pin the eye on the Monster” and several silly monster masks for photo props.
3. Dynamic Decorations
Depending on your theme, budget and personal style, your décor can be anywhere from simple to extravagant. Your food and beverage tables can be a great visual of your overall theme. The tableware, napkins, serving dishes and drinking glasses help add to your design as well. Paper plates and napkins may not be perfect for a fancy dinner party but they are very practical for children and the cleanup is a breeze! Paper crafts are great for a lower budget – just make sure you plan ahead because they can be a bit time consuming. Paper crafts could include: banner/garland, name cards, streamers, wall decorations, confetti, place mats, etc. It’s also very popular now to decorate your cake/cupcakes with paper toppers that match your theme.
Thankfully, I planned the theme to match the already striking mural in our space. That meant all I really had to do was add some balloons, a few streamers, and table cloths!
4. Imaginative & Informative Invitations
Invitations are one of my favorite things to plan and organize! There are unlimited options and you can easily find anything that fits the theme of your party! You can order them online, go to your local stationary store (if you have one) or find some cute, inexpensive ones at a department store.
Don’t forget the point of an invitation. Anticipate the information your guests will need, and give it to them. Here is a list of stuff you should put on the invitation:
– Date/time/location (include directions)
– Drop-off/pick-up times (for a children’s birthday party)
– RSVP Information (phone #, email, date needed by)
– Clearly say if there is anything the kids need to bring (swimsuit, towel, bedding, costume)
– Let the guests know if you’ll be serving a full meal (There’s nothing worse than arriving at a party expecting a full meal and only having tiny little appetizers to nibble on – been there, done that!)
If you are serving an expensive meal (like a wedding brunch), call all of the guests who have not responded. Life happens and invitations get lost or people just simply forget to respond. It’s always good to confirm the guest count before you go shopping for supplies, or give your final numbers to the caterer!
5. Lovely Location
Pick a place that fits with your party’s theme and the size of your party. This can save you a ton of time and money not only on decor, but on trying to make the space “right” for your even. Other than that, you basically have 2 main decisions:
1. Indoors or Outdoors
2. Home or Other Venue
When making these decisions, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you opt to host the party outside what is the backup plan for inclement weather? budget is also a concern, can you afford the elegant ballroom? And don’t forget you aren’t the only customer in the world. Venues fill up fast so be sure to check your dates and book early!
Throwing a party can be very stressful, but focusing on these 5 aspects can help you guarantee that you and your guests will have a blast! Remember to stay calm, plan ahead and most importantly….have fun!