I love to celebrate special occasions. My mother raised me that way. There was not one birthday of mine that went by without being celebrated. What great memories she created for me. During that time, there was no Chuck E. Cheese’s. At best, my party would be at McDonald’s. But typically all of my parties were held right under our carport on a beautiful summer Saturday. My mother and I were the party planners. She would have me choose the theme of the party which would be reflected on the white sheet cake overloaded with colorful butter cream icing. Bozo the Clown, Winnie the Pooh, and Barbie were some of my most memorable themes. The invitation list always consisted of family members, neighborhood kids, and occasionally a few friends from school. My guests and I proudly wore our coned-shaped paper birthday hats until the elastic holding it down broke or became too unbearable around our little faces. Our entertainment consisted of us playing pin the tail on the donkey, bingo, or running around chasing each other. Capturing the memories was easy with our Polaroid camera that developed pictures right on the spot as we fanned the photos back and forth. Those were the good old days. Memories were made. Mission was accomplished!When I my oldest daughter turned one, my mother and I got together once again to plan the ultimate house party for her. We invited lots of guests, hired a clown, ordered tons of pizza, and had plenty to drink. We were so excited to pass this party tradition on to my daughter. To our dismay, my daughter slept through most of the party. The preparation of the house before hand and the clean up after wards was more than we could have imagined. We vowed to never throw a house party again.
The next year we went to Chuck E. Cheese’s for her party. We paid our money, walked in when the party started and walked out when it was over. Ahhhh…..we had found our answer to a stress-free party. Like most parents, I despised being at Chuck E. Cheese’s but my kids loved it. Party places like that served us for most of my three kid’s birthdays. Then, finally, they outgrew those places. That’s when I had to dig in and find creative ways to celebrate their birthdays. We have had spa parties, dinner and a movie parties, scavenger hunts, bowling parties, America’s Next Top Model parties, and a candy themed Sweet 16 party. Let me warn you, the parties get more expensive. In our home, we throw a party to celebrate every time our child turns a year older. We throw a big party at 13 and 16 with smaller celebrations for the ages reached in between. Not a year goes by without being celebrated at all.
Let me start by saying, I enjoy planning parties and various events for my loved ones. It’s a fun hobby for me, but if event planning is not your thing, HIRE an event planner. There are way too many details that go into having a successful event. If it’s not your thing, put it in the hands of a pro. If you want to plan and execute the event yourself, here’s a few helpful tips:
1) Pick a theme. The internet is a great source of inspiration. Be sure to pick something that really represents your child’s personality. For instance, don’t choose a 70’s theme if your child is uncomfortable with wearing crazy costumes and dancing. I can sense when I have found the right theme because the moment I find it, my mind begins to race with ideas on how to customize it for my event. I don’t want to totally copy someone’s idea, I want it to inspire me to create my own.
2) Create memories inside of memories. As if throwing a sweet 16 party isn’t memorable enough, find ways to create memories while creating the party memory. My daughter and I created additional memories by constructing all her invitations together by hand. We also had fun shopping together for her outfit and for some of the party decorations. Consider having a party planning meeting with your child over their favorite meal. Perhaps you can go to the spa together to have your nails done for the party. Create memories leading up to the event to make it special every step of the way!
3) Venues & menus. The type of party you want to have should weigh heavily on your menu and venue selection. If you don’t want a sit down dinner, serve finger foods on small plates instead of heavy dishes that require the use of silverware. Find a venue that suits the type of party you want to have, at the location and price you desire. Every venue has different restrictions, so read the contract carefully before signing.
4) Budgets & Buddies. Creativity can cost you extra money or save you extra money. Predetermine your budget for decorating, food, photographer, wardrobe, entertainment, venue, etc. Use online shopping to get decorations for much less than many of your retail craft stores offer. The best budget saver is a creative buddy! Get a creative friend on your team that has a knack for finding cost effective ways to bring your vision to pass. Having a fresh set of creative eyes can offer you a fresh perspective. Two are better than one!
5) Get some FUN out of your FUNction. Don’t allow the party details to stress you out to the extent where you forget to have fun at the party. Participate in a game, dance, chat and take pictures with the guests, laugh with your kids. At the end of the day, you want to walk away with some great memories, too.
Supermom Decoded Tip: I encourage all parents out there to celebrate each year of your child’s life. Find a way to create a memory around that special day. Remember, it doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable.
Other Birthday Celebration Ideas
- Create a scavenger hunt for the birthday child to find their gifts around the house.
- Cook their favorite meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Take them out to their favorite restaurant (for an extra bonus, check them out of school and take them)
- Invite their friends over for pizza and movie night.
- Have a small dinner party at a restaurant for them and their closest friends.
- Add some excitement to smaller parties by requesting all the guests dress in a certain wardrobe. (Football jersey of their favorite team and player, your child’s favorite color, etc. For my daughter’s 17th birthday, we had a dinner party at P.F. Chang’s and had all the guests, guys and girls, dress in white shirts and black neckties)