Fun and minimalism
Of course it can work. And it can work for your kid's birthday party too.
I've just endured... I mean organised two large home birthday parties in quick succession for my children. Nadia turned 3 in late January and Alex turned 6 last week. Both parties were declared a major success, both with quite a reasonable budget.
Here are a few tips:
While my kids love getting party invitations in the mail, I have not returned the favour for our parties. Same as my Christmas greetings, I use either e-cards or a carefully-crafted email.
- my convenience (no shopping, multiple invites sent all at once, late invites sent easily)
- low cost
- low environmental impact
- recipient's convenience in replying, scheduling and storing the information
And there are some very cute e-cards out there. Care2 is free and supports the environment.
My last several party invitations have included:
XXX has lots of toys - instead of a present, please consider making a small donation to your favourite charity and/or bring a gold coin to contribute to his special gift from the family.I'd much rather some charity benefited than a chain store. With the Christchurch earthquake, this was particularly appropriate.
Some invitees love this and some don't. Alex very much enjoyed the haul he got this time regardless of this note, and I don't begrudge him that. But the predictable happened:
- he didn't even see all the presents to open
- he hasn't even played with all of them yet
- I haven't managed to find a new home for them yet
- He is having severe attacks of the gimmes from the mini catalogs that come with some of the toys
Remember when present opening was part of the party entertainment? It's now so complicated and overwhelming that most parents skip it until later.
Serve some real food. Serve it before the sweets appear. OK, not celery sticks and raw broccoli, but active kids will not ignore crackers, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, etc. Make it special - splurge on grapes, melon, cherries and blueberries.
If your guests party on with a table loaded with junk food, by the time the cake is cut, tummies are bloated and teeth sugar coated and the most beautiful and delicious cake is left in uneaten chunks on plates.
Remember when the cake was the finale and special treat of the party?Entertainment
Nadia's party occurred during a flooding downpour and the weather was iffy for Alex's party as well.
Nadia's guests were happy enough with our selection of toys but I needed to be more savvy for Alex's older guests.
We set up zones in our house for Face Painting (thanks Mom! and remember that you don't need an artist like my mom to paint a flower or zigzag on a cheek) and LegoLand. Kids zipped out to the bouncy castle (hired) and trampoline (ours) and back in again when they needed food or quiet play or a break from the light showers and cold winds.
Having experienced serial party games, here's why they don't work for me:
- Hard work for me!
- Winners and losers - some kids (like mine) take this really to heart
- Regimented - groups of kids find their own entertainment. Calling them away from their own activities to play a formal game can be disruptive
- Prizes - kids can be very disappointed to miss out on prizes. And the prizes are usually more candy or cheap toys... leading on to....
To take home...
I don't know who invented the party bag, but they didn't do anybody any party favours!
Embarrassingly, my children now expect and ask for party bags when they attend parties. When my kids have spent a few hours loading up on sugar and excitement, the last thing I want is a plastic bag containing more sweets and plastic toys. Enough already!
I did the party bag thing once. Once. What hard work! At the last party, I let each child pick a lollipop and a balloon to take home (no plastic bag needed), and parents and kids alike were very pleased.
Lighten up, it's a party!
Of course. But let's celebrate the birthday and fun and not the availability of cheap food and toys.
What was the best party you've ever given or attended?