After having a huge party for my daughter's first birthday, we decided to hold off on any more kid-centered celebrations until she was in preschool. So when it came time to plan her fourth birthday party, I was entrenched in the details of invitations, theme, and all around birthday magic. But the majority of those plans went awry when her outdoor party was almost cancelled due to the single solitary Sunday of bad weather for weeks in either direction. In the end, the birthday party was a complete success, but only because we stuck to the basics, and it turns out that those might be all you really need!
Candles and a Rousing Rendition of "Happy Birthday"
That's right, I'm not even writing cake. Because some kids may hate cake and want a piece of watermelon instead! But no one will want to pass on hearing, "Happy Birthday to you!" sung loudly in their direction until the teenage years approach. Make sure you've got enough of the goodies to pass along to your guests as well. If this happens, then you've officially had a birthday party.
Mylar or latex. If they float in the air, kids will be happy and somehow know that a birthday party is going on. Even if you just tie some to your front door to signal that a party is happening, you'll be good to go! I mean, when else do you really get to enjoy balloons with reckless abandon!
Snacks & Drinks
This is a non-negotiable for any party. But if the thought of menu-planning and prepping 20 servings of Minion-shaped food makes you break out in hives, just rely on the stuff that your child loves and adores to snack on! If you do go with a theme, make it easy on yourself! We had a "rainbow party," and it was easy to make Jell-o in all colors of the rainbow without having to make fancy layered rainbow Jell-o! Trust me that no child will turn down a pack of applesauce on its lack of theme integration.
Two Games or Activities
When I went to parties as a kid, it seems like every single one featured some form of "pin the tail on the donkey," and most had a pinata. And guess what? They were all really fun and enjoyable parties! Stick to the basics and have at least two activities or games ready to go for the party, three at the max. And if you stick to classics, chances are the kids will know the rules already! At our party, I threw out about five activities and just kept the pinata and a "color run" race, and it was perfect for our weather-abbreviated affair!
Handing out party favors as a final "thank you" to your friends when you're leaving is always a gracious thing to do. Don't worry about spending a lot of money, but instead just think of how you'd like the guests to extened the party past the day. Perhaps it's some edible goodies, or just some small trinkets? We stuffed our boxes with temporary tattoos, some lollipops, and Craisens. Remember that kids adore getting tiny treasures all the time, so don't worry about going overboard!
Rain or shine, kids love birthday parties! I saw that firsthand when all of our guests were shivering and shaking and eagerly jumping around my daughter with anticipation of what our party had in store. If you bring a great big smile for the event, then they'll all have one too!
I'll admit I was a bit intimidated by all of the Pinterest-esque parties as of late, but after throwing this successful barebones party, I'd welcome an old-fashioned birthday party every single year! The parents might not go home with photos worthy of Facebook envy, but I'm sure we'll all have a great time!
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