We hope you had a great weekend! This week, we're introducing a new series: "Just Five Things". In this series, we'll focus on a different topic for each post and share five tips, tricks, or "must haves" for a particular type of event. To kick off the series, we're starting today with kids' parties.
1. Themes. You'll probably not be surprised to hear that we're big fans of themed parties. For kids parties, we think they're borderline essential. We define "theme" pretty loosely, so it can be anything from a color palate theme (think navy and coral - swoon!) to a favorite character to a favorite animal (yes, unicorns count as animals!) to a more traditional theme ("nautical", "jungle", etc.). Why do we love themes so much? For one, they're fun! Who doesn't love seeing the creativity associated with a theme, from pun-derful menu labels to decor to favors?! But, more importantly, they help give the host or hostess an easy way to narrow down the insane number of options for any item to things that fit within the theme. For example, searching for "paper plates" would likely leave you exhausted, annoyed, and completely overwhelmed. But, searching for navy stripes will significantly reduce your options to a manageable number!
2. Food - simple and finger-friendly. We've hosted a lot of parties over the years and whereas we both enjoy cooking and baking, we also know that the food is one of only 500 things that need to be done leading up to and on the day of the party. There's nothing worse than spending the first half of a party stressing out because you're still cooking instead of enjoying the event! So, our advice is to keep it simple - try to come up with menu options that can be made ahead of time or outsource to someone else. It's amazing how many fun places do catering and it's often not that much more expensive than you'd spend on the ingredients to prepare everything yourself (and if you factor your time into the calculation, it's typically waaaaay cheaper!). Our other suggestion, especially for kids' parties, is to heavily rely on finger foods. They're going to eat half of the food with their fingers anyway (other than, if you're lucky, the cake!), so why not make that the appropriate way to eat so you and the other parents don't have to stress when you see Tommy forego the utensils for his fingers?
3. Disposable tableware. We probably don't need to elaborate much on this one, but how nice is it to be able to throw everything away at the end of the day instead of running the dishwasher 3 times? And what are the odds that your actual plates/cups all survive the day with little ones and their often not-so-gentle touch? We certainly don't advocate using disposable tableware on a daily basis (but if you're going to, we have some awfully cute options ;-)), but a couple of times a year it can make your life so much easier!
4. Guest list. This is a tricky one, and there are lots of opinions here. We'll just give a few thoughts of ours. First, please, please don't be that family that invites everyone from your child's class...except that one kid who is a little different or shy or less popular. We're not saying you have to invite the whole class, but don't invite 19 of 20 or you're likely to crush and embarrass the odd boy/girl out. Second, invite whatever number of people makes you comfortable! That sounds vague, but some people relish in planning and hosting a huge bash and others are much happier with a few close family members and friends. Take your kid into account here, too - if s/he is less socially outgoing, a smaller party may be the way to go and if s/he is a social butterfly, invite the whole neighborhood!
5. Activities. No, you don't have to plan out every minute of your event with some elaborate game or craft project or hired entertainer. However, having an activity or two and some sort of timeline for doing them can help the party go more smoothly and keep the miniature guests entertained (cake helps, too ;-)). If it's a messy activity, think about whether you want to have that portion outside (weather permitting) or if it's easier to do it before food/cake on a disposable tablecloth or after the kids have already smeared frosting into every plank of your reclaimed wood dining table and you'll no longer care about the mess. These activities can be anything and we like to tie them into the party theme. For a race car party, we let the kids decorate inexpensive wooden cars we sourced from Etsy and built "tracks" out of 4" diameter pipe for the kids to use to race their works of art. For a party that was a balloon and color theme, we had the kids paint canvasses that were pre-taped with the first initial of their names, so their initial remained white after they decorated the rest of the canvass. For a movie-themed party, we've found local entertainers who come in a character costume to sing songs and play with the kids for a while. The possibilities are endless and can help take your party to the next level!
What's your favorite party tip for children's parties? Share in the comments or drop us a line!
Erin & Sarah