Saturday, February 21, 2009

This Month's Marvellous Mums Theme: Planning Kid's Birthday Parties

Some people love having Mc Donald’s parties or parties at play centres where all the work is taken care of by the party organiser but there is something about organising my children’s parties that gets me all excited…I just love them…

To me, planning birthday parties would be one of the highlights of being a parent. So this month I will be sharing with you some of the theme ideas I have used so far as well as explaining just what a joy DIY party planning can be with a few simple steps.

First of all I love to start the preparation months in advance. When you allow enough time it means that you can include your children in the planning and build up the excitement weeks in advance. From posting invitations, looking through cake books, finding supplies etc.

Secondly I love to choose a theme. I think the easiest and most fun way to plan a party is to choose a theme and base all the decorations, party favours, food, music etc around that theme. By choosing your theme early, you have time to use your imagination to carry the theme through as well as search around those little junk shops or Sparties etc for items to use at the party. You’d be surprised once you pick a theme just how many little things you start to notice that could be useful.
Your theme can also reflect the interests and personality of your child. For my son’s 3rd birthday party, he decided that he wanted a Humpty Dumpty cake so I decided to run with this theme and create a Humpty Dumpty party. Firstly I “googled” the ABC’s Play School Humpty Dumpty picture and based all the invites and decorations around it. The invites had the Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall… rhyme on them with a jigsaw piece of Humpty attached saying “Bring your ‘Humpty’ jigsaw piece on Saturday 13th for Mr. T’s 3rd Birthday Party~ it will be egg-cellent!”
Once I decided on the theme, it was easy to incorporate lots of “egg” ideas into the party. I picked out the red colour from Humpty’s spots and chose red decorations. I hung pictures of Humpty Dumpty around everywhere. The cake was Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall with the Humpty made from a Pavlova egg case. My mum helped me by sewing little arms and legs.
Here’s a few other ideas that I used:
• Home-made Humpty Dumpty piñata
• Humpty Dumpty gingerbread biscuits (these were a real hit)
• Pass the parcel with ‘egg’ shaped toy fillers and prize
• Egg and spoon races

I even themed his birthday presents with an Egg Flip toy, Little Tikes Farm Yard memory game (in the shape of an egg carton) a Play School Humpty Dumpty and book etc.
The party boxes that each child received included Kinder Surprise eggs. There were actually lots of Dinosaur egg toys, racing egg toys, egg timer items etc that were available to help carry the theme through.

During the planning stage it’s important to have your party location in mind. So far we have had all our kid’s parties at home and that has worked well. The bulk of the setting up begins a few days before the party (usually at night when the kids are in bed) and means that only the last-minute jobs are left until the night before or morning of the party. With my daughter’s 2nd birthday party we had a “jungle” party which involved hanging up a large piece of bird netting from the roof of the deck and creating a jungle theme by using lots of fake ivy and green streamers. Hanging from the netting we had various sized butterflies, insects, spiders etc and then jungle or safari animals (stuffed toys) positioned in different places around the house and deck. Because her party was at home, it meant we were able to do a bit each night and decorate more than we would’ve been able to if the party was elsewhere. I think home parties are nice although you may cop a bit of wear and tear on your house and be limited in how many people you can invite.

When choosing your guest list, it is important to consider how many friends your child will be able to cope with. Traditionally they say one friend per age of the child but obviously this depends on the familiarity/ relationship to the birthday child as well as the location etc too. If your child is at an age where it is difficult to share their toys then inviting 10 other children might create a stressful environment. I know for my son’s 2nd birthday we chose only to invite his cousins because he was quite sensitive and uncertain in social settings at that time. As we set up for the Bob the Builder themed party with construction tape, safety cones and fully themed house and costumes, we felt a little disappointed that we hadn’t invited more children however Mr. T totally loved the party, he was so happy with just his two special cousins and sister there that we are still glad to this day that we didn’t over do it and ruin his experience.

Use your invitations to not just give the date and location of the party but to set the tone, create the scene and ignite excitement in your guests. For my son’s first birthday the invitation for his Farm Yard party was a jean pocket stating the theme and inviting guests to dress in denim. For parties with a farm, jungle, Hawaiian, teddy bear, ballet or construction themes, it is easy to encourage your visitors to join in the theme by wearing a costume. It also adds to the atmosphere and gives people something to talk about as they arrive.

The cake can be as simple or as extravagant as you please. I happen to think that I have a few years up my sleeve to perfect my cake-making skills before my kids will remember how good, or bad, it really looked! My point is that you should just have a go. I like to have a cake trial (really just an excuse to eat more cake!) about a week before the party to test out the pan, recipe, cooking and cooling times etc. I have found my cake ideas from either the Woman’s Weekly kid’s cake book or searching the Internet.

So far with Mr. T and E.J. being 3 and 2 years old, we’ve kept the party times pretty short (just 2-3 hours) but despite this we’ve dragged in bails of hay and chickens for a Farm Yard party, taped off our front yard like a construction zone, seen the Humpty Dumpty piñata fall, served heavenly pancakes at an Angel themed party and stomped through the jungle in our camouflage clothing.
Now, I am already beginning to cook up some ideas for No. 3's first birthday (he’s not even four months old yet so I have a bit of time to plan!)

Why wait? … You don’t just have to sit around waiting for your children to have a birthday, why not theme a party for yourself or a friend?
A few years back, a good friend of ours became an Australian citizen, so one night when he and his wife came over for dinner we had secretly themed the whole night to congratulate him. As he rang the doorbell, the speakers blared Advance Australia Fare, we had made damper, bought lamingtons, dressed in flannelette shirts and Akubra hats and hung pictures of the Australian outback, animals and Australian flags all over the house. Another night we surprised those same friends with an Asian theme and dressed them in kimonos as they walked in the door, sat on cushions on the floor to eat, cooked Asian food etc.

Just with a little planning about a theme, location, guest list, invitations and cake you too CAN create a birthday party that your child will talk about for years to come.

1 comment:

Busy Brissy Mum said...

I was just checking out some of your old blogs and came across this one. Sounds like you're a girl after my own heart. I'll take any excuse to throw a party with great food, costumes and decorations. I'm currently planning a Dorothy's Rosy Tea Party for Miss M who is turning 3 in September and a Ruby Red Party for Miss H (middle name Ruby) who will be 1 in November. Fun!

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