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Chaos!? Not at This Party!

 

Coming from a big family and or always having lots of people at one single party, I have learned that there needs to be some sort of agenda. The agenda can be pretty general or very detailed.

I have been to parties where there isn’t an agenda or this is the hostess first party and you can tell the difference. Most of the parties I went to growing up had some of the same key features: Guest arrive and eat, when kids are done eating play for a little amongst themselves, gather kids for piñata, sing “happy birthday” and cut cake, and open presents.

This is usually the same agenda that I like to keep at the parties I throw for my children but as the amount of kids grows and the ages get older I have started adding activities and games for the kids entertainment until we get to the piñata. For example at my daughters butterfly themed party I had an art area set up where kids could decorate wooden butterflies.

Activities

List of some go to activities to have at parties:

  • Coloring area
  • Play-dough area
  • Decorate cupcake or sugar cookie area
  • Bubble area
  • Necklace/bracelet making area
  • Face painting area

The list can go on and on. It can get even bigger once you have a theme for the party. My niece had a paint splatter theme one year and for an activity all the kiddos got to paint a canvas.

Games

If you are having a party where all the kids are roughly around the same age, games are usually a good option. There are many games that can be played and can be narrowed down depending on the theme or the ages of the party goers.

Here are a few go to games:

  • Dress Up Relay Race
  • Musical Chairs
  • Egg and Spoon Game

This list can go on or you can find more ideas at Birthday Party Ideas 4 Kids.

Here is video showing some ideas for some messy games that can be played.

12 Messy Birthday Party Games for Kids

Piñatas

At mostly all of the parties that I have been to in my life, there has always been a piñata. I remember at one party I had not one, not two, but four piñatas! This was the one party I had while visiting family in Mexico and because the amount of people that were at the party we had too have that many. Two were for the kids and two ended up being for the adults.

When I had my son there was this new kind of piñata that you didn’t need to hit. All you do is pull a string and one string lets the candy loose, the catch is that the party goers each pull one string at a time and eventually one pulls the correct string.  As my kids have gotten older this no longer has been wanted. We have had to have two piñatas, one for the younger kids and one for the older kids (this avoids anyone getting hurt).

Activities that come with the Venue

There is always the easy way out of having to plan activities or even an agenda for your party. Most venues that provide party areas also provide an allotted time for your party therefore the party is pretty much taken care of.

 

Themed Parties

Themed parties have been a favorite of mine. Growing up I didn’t have many themed parties myself but the one I do remember having was when I turned six years old and I had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party. Yes, I had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party, they were my favorite at the time.

“Heros in a half shell, turtle power.”

After becoming a parent one of the things I was excited about was being able to plan theme birthdays for my children. Having both a son and a daughter I have so far been able to plan a variety of parties. Of course, they each have had a prince and princess theme party. My daughter’s themes have been girly: Sofia the First, Disney Fairies, My Little Ponies, and a Butterfly Kisses theme. My son has had the following themes: Toy Story, Superhero, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ben 10, Minecraft, and Star Wars.

I have had a great timing planning all of these parties for my kiddos with the help of my mom, but by far one of my favorites has been doing my son’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party.  For starters for the invitation I was able to use an old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blanket as the backdrop for his photo.

InkedJD 4th invite 4_wp

When it came time to gathering the decorating ideas I had so many ideas that it was hard to just choose a few. Below you will see some photos from the party. In the end, it ended up a great party but there are still so many ideas that I would love to try like those from Kara’s Party Ideas. My daughter is turning six next year so I have a little hope that I may be able to convince her to have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party just like I did at the same age.

In case my daughter decides not to have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I will be researching some other themes that she may want. Thank goodness for all the great blog’s like Little Miss Party to be able to get ideas from.

My son as he has been getting older has been a little harder to plan parties for him as themes as starting to seem a little childish to him. Thankfully for him his birthday is during summer and this year we may end up doing a party at a venue where a theme is not really necessary.

 

Summer Birthday

As we get closer to the end of the school year it means that I need to really think about what my son is going to want to do for his birthday. In the past it was has been a little easier to plan what needs to be done. Now that he is in school it has gotten a little harder because he also wants to invite his friends which I don’t blame him for wanting to. The only down side is that his birthday is in the middle of summer and many of his friends are on vacation. According to my previous post I’m actually getting a little behind on planning, so I need to get on it.

Figuring out what kind of party is going to work best is also an issue. We have done a bouncy house party, two swimming parties, and even rented out the local roller skating rink. The one that has worked out best with family and his friends is swimming. This is most likely what we will end up doing this year but the only factor will be if the weather is going to cooperate. You wouldn’t think that the weather would be an issue but it has been unfortunately. Luckily I tried to have a plan B and C just in case and also good that where we live has options for party venues.

Party Options

There are indoor and outdoor options to have summer parties. Here are a few that we have either had our parties at or have been invited to ones at these different venues.

  • Meadowbrook Family Fun Center – Indoor/Outdoor
    • What I like about this place is that there activities for both inside and outside. The cost is pretty fair. I think the only down side is not being able to rent it out so that only your party is enjoying the venue.
  • Get Air – Indoor
    • What I like is that basically everything gets taken care of with their party package. Down side it can be a little pricey depending on what package you get.
  • Skateland – Indoor
    • For winter and summer parties this place is a good option. Cost for having your party during public skate is less than when than when renting the rink out for a private party. Plus side to having the private party, it’s only your guest their.
  • Swimming – Indoor/Outdoor
    • At least where we live there is an option for renting the indoor pool and an outdoor pool. The indoor option is obviously year round so it is good for any season. The outdoor pool is only available during summer and the dates get filled up quick.

The other option that always works as well especially if you are having a small get together is a BBQ. These have worked for our family in the past when we have separated the parties, but for us that has also meant more planning and more work.

I guess I should get on planning this party and hope that the weather is good this year!

 

The To-Do List

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Planning a birthday party, baby shower, or a wedding can be overwhelming and time consuming. Any of these events timelines depend on how big or small you are planning on having the event. In general I have found at least for planning events in my family it usually takes anywhere from a month to six months to plan a birthday party or baby shower. Those two events are the ones we seem to do more because of the size of our families.

Both events seem to revolve more and more around some sort of theme depending on the child’s age or the gender of the awaited baby’s arrival. Size of the event and season also seem to a big factor for planning.

Personal Experiences

In the past for my son’s summer parties the weather has always been a believe it or not. Two different year’s the weather has not cooperated. One year I rented I bounce house and we ended up having a thunderstorm. Luckily most of the party was inside but the kids couldn’t use the bouncy house after it started raining. The next year I wasn’t going to g through that again so the party was planned to be solely inside and we ended up having perfect weather. The following year, I decided to give nature another chance and rented out the city pool, but unfortunately it was so windy before the pool time that about a third of the guest left.

Winter parties can cause issues as well. My daughter has her birthday at the end of January and having to rely on if the roads are going to be cleared of snow is always an issue. Especially if most of the guest list says they will be there depending on the roads it is hard to plan for how many people you should get food.

In the end, every party seems to work out and the most important thing is that the birthday boy or girl enjoys their celebration.

Here is a checklist courtesy of Cozi Blog:

Complete Kids’ Birthday Party Checklist

SIX WEEKS BEFORE

  • Choose a theme with your child
  • Determine the guest list
  • Reserve your party venue or hire a party entertainer

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE

  • Prepare your invitations
  • Ask for an updated class list from your child’s teacher
  •  Determine games, activities and menu to match your party theme
  • If ordering a cake, place your order

THREE WEEKS BEFORE

  • Mail invitations
  • Purchase party supplies, especially if ordering on-line
  • Arrange for extra help, if necessary

ONE OR TWO WEEKS BEFORE

  • Create a party flow schedule
  • Purchase more party supplies as needed
  • Call families who have not yet responded to your invitation

THREE DAYS BEFORE

  • Purchase food
  • Purchase batteries for camera
  • Charge video camera
  • Call entertainer to confirm appearance and expectations
  • Call party venue to confirm all details
  • Assemble party favors

ONE OR TWO DAYS BEFORE

  • Bake cake or pick up pre-ordered cake
  • Confirm help if using extra help
  • Decorate home or gather decorations for party venue
  • Prepare make-ahead food

ONE WEEK AFTER

  • Send thank you notes!

 

You’re Invited

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Invitations

Whether it is for a birthday party, baby shower, or wedding, the most optimal way to find out the event is happening is usually through some form of invitation. Now a days there are more forms than just the regular paper invitation. We now have electronic invites and if you have Facebook you can create an event on there and invite people that way.

Since becoming a parent and having to plan my children’s birthday parties each year I have learned a few things about creating and getting invitations sent out. This also comes from growing up in a big family, as read in my about page.

For my son’s first and second birthdays I went the easy way and ordered them online. The first year I searched and found a site called Lil Duck Duck that makes beautiful invitations for almost every occasion. I wanted to use the site again for my son’s second birthday but the only reason I didn’t was because I was doing Toy Story themed party and the site did not have and invitations that matched the theme. So, I did some searching on Etsy, and to my amazement there were so many to choose from.

Invitation Timeline

Figuring out when to send out or start inviting your guest to your event can all depend on the type of event you are having. Here are a few events and when to start inviting.

The Event             When to Invite

Anniversary party            3 to 6 weeks

Bar or Bat Mitzvah           1 month

Birthday party                   2 weeks to 1 month

Bon Voyage party            Last minute to 3 weeks

Casual party                      Same day to 2 weeks

Christmas party                1 month

Graduation party              3 weeks

Housewarming party      A few days to 3 weeks

Informal dinner                A few days to 3 weeks

Holiday dinner                  2 weeks to 2 months

*Invitation Timing http://emilypost.com/advice/invitation-timing/

 

Invitation Must Have’s

Listed here are some of the key essential items needed to have on your invitation. Greeting

  • Event
  • Honoree
  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Hosts
  • RSVP information
  • Registry information and other important details

http://www.impressinprint.com/invitations/birthday-invitation-wording-ideas.html

I myself do not always put all of these items on invitations. The ones that I think are always needed are: the event, date, location, and time.

Here are some examples of ones that I have made myself.

RSVP Etiquette

Like I said I don’t always put whether one needs to RSVP or not but I think it is because in the past it has not always worked. There have been times where only two out of my 15 guest RSVP and yet they all end up showing up. Other times 15 out of 20 guest RSVP and only half of those show up. It’s a hit and miss type of thing. So as for advice I would say if there is an RSVP on the event please RSVP to the event even if you are not sure if you are going or if the event is the next day.

Facebook Events

I personally like using Facebook events as a second way of letting people know that an event is happening. They have added a feature where you can see if the people invited have even looked at your event announcement which can have its pro’s and con’s.

For any questions feel free to contact me on my contact page.

First blog post

Welcome to my first post!

Being so close to Easter Sunday this post will be about just that.

Depending on what your religious view are, some of you may be going to church and others may simply just be getting together with family. If there are children in the family most likely you will be doing some sort of Easter egg hunt whether it be with family or participating at a community sponsored one.

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I myself grew up in a Christian home and as a family we would attend sunrise service, have a family get together that included searching for eggs in my grandmother’s yard when I was younger, and then attended some sort of Easter service that either included an Easter play and/ or a choir singing.

Now as an adult and having a family of my own, I basically do pretty much the same thing. We have a family gathering with my husband’s family.  There the children will look for Easter eggs. We then attend my childhood church for Easter service.

Easter Eggs

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When I was a child myself I remember liking and not liking searching for eggs. I liked it because I was competitive and I wanted to get more eggs than the others.  What I didn’t like was when I ended up with the hard-boiled eggs or when I got the confetti filled eggs cracked on my head (mainly by older relatives).

For the first few years since being married to my husband there has always been at least one or two tantrums between the children because one got more than the other. Also for some odd reason (mainly not counting) there has always been one or two eggs that gets hidden a little too well and then my father-in-law ends up finding it or them sometimes weeks or months later.

Having learned from those first years I began to think of some creative ways to one, keep all the children happy and two, make sure all the eggs get found. Here is what we have been doing for the past 5 years.

Tips for Easter Egg Hunts

  1. Count how many children there are in the family.
  2. Set an equal amount of eggs that each child will be looking for.
  3. Set a color and/or pattern for each child. Also give each child a picture of what egg color/pattern they will be looking for.
  4. Difficulty of hiding the eggs should be according to the child’s age. (If you put chocolates in the eggs and you know its going to be warm, try not to hide them to far in advance or hide them in shaded areas.
  5. Once all the eggs have been found, have each child collect the goodies that are inside, and then collect the eggs to reuse for the following year.

Food

The menu and the amount of food you have for lunch with the family is another part that takes a little bit of planning.

We tend to have the normal main items on the menu: ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, green beans, deviled eggs, and fresh fruit.  Desserts is where one can get creative.

These are some cakes are family has enjoyed!

easter 2011       easter 2012easter cake 2013

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, until next time!