Summer seems to be the season of celebrations. Suddenly three parties are scheduled simultaneously, and you are left forlorn as to how to make it to all three at the same time, let alone plan Junior’s party he is so eagerly awaiting! It’s time for IncrediMom to step to the plate and swing. Well, no worries, I have no intention of solving all of your problems by the end of this small entry, but rather, hope to offer a little fuel to the fire being flooded by the 20 swimming parties you attended this week. Yes, we moms get another version of being “water-logged”. Mind you, children’s parties are so much fun!
Many opt for a theme-based birthday gig. It’s puts a bit of order to the planning. However, when the pirate plates are sold out, the treasure cannot be acquired at any of the 5 stores you went to, and the princess tiaras are purple instead of pink, this can turn into a nightmare. Suddenly you’ve spent hours in the car, when you could’ve been playing with your kids, and you’re more concerned about the perfect party, than the child you are celebrating. Before you commit to a theme, and before you think it is necessary to have every piece of that puzzle, commit to creativity and flexibility.
Invite your children’s input and ask other adults for ideas. For instance, markers are easily (and cost-efficiently) obtained at a variety of locations, even a gas station if necessary! Along with glue, paper (even rolls), foam sheets, tape, fabric, and plastic gems. Cutting red strips of material turns into piratey, “Ahoy, Matey” bandanas. A paper or foam cutout of a crown that a child can color or glue gems on, turns into a keepsake that takes TIME to make, provides a fun activity at a party, and becomes something the child can take home and reuse. This is a hit with other moms too, because it gives them ideas for the future, becomes one less item they are asked to buy, and they know their child participated in a creative process of expression. Don’t be afraid to add in a noisy fun princess or pirate parade. Remember things like paper-plate or cup moroccas, utilizing a renewable resource like beans, peas, and lentils. Don’t be afraid to bring out a couple of small pots and wooden spoons, or plastic bowls and kids spoons. Another project they can be a part of, and the energy can be expressed and guided! Wear a chef hat and lead the parade. It’s always good for the parent to have fun too! The kids will follow that energy.
A word of caution : make sure the projects are age-appropriate to the kids you are working with. For instance, you don’t want a pot and pan fight to break out, or a little one to stick a bean up his nose! Older groups can make journals, for example. Have natural items to add onto the cover: pressed/dried leaves, flowers, old magazines (think recycling) for cool cutouts, etc.
Don’t be afraid to explore others’ ideas and come up with your own. But try to remain in the mentality of how to make it cheaply or have the children participate in making a keepsake themselves. Instead of party bags, you make things to take home. They take a piece of the party with them.
Again, this could be a costly part. Cakes for $20 to $30, sandwiches, chips, pop, etc., etc. etc. are quick options parents sometimes choose. Try to think again of make it yourself, do-it-yourself, and involve the kids!!! Take a parade to the house to wash hands- extra bubbly soap makes it fun and there will be giggles. If you are in an apartment without grassy space, do the messy projects/games in the kitchen, so long as there are no items out in the open to get injured on. Ideally, you could make brownies, cupcakes, or cookies, with the kids helping scoop the mix into the tins, and once you they are cooked, they can decorate their own treat. Have some healthy watermelon slices or regular melon slices to refresh in the hot weather. Get them each their very own surprise spork that they can take home at the end of the party.
A word of caution : Ask parents about allergies, let them know what you may be making/serving, and ask the kids to come in clothes that can get messy. This makes for a lot of fun. You might also considering teaming up with another parent in planning your parties together and then make each party happen together.
This means it’s time to rummage through your kid’s closets, the garage, and the trunk of your car! Dig out the old game of Twister…sure to be a rib-tickling, fun game. Get out Frisbees, hacky-sacks for balancing games and a bean bag toss. Potato sacks for sack racing (sometimes you can get these for free from a lawn and garden, fruit and vegetable store. Don’t forget cardboard box races, watermelon seed shooting contests, and water balloon tosses. A super fun, skill and balancing activity that could double as a birthday gift and be used by the family over time is investing in a Gibbon Slackline. Teenagers love this one and you could set it up for other family events.
Note of caution : have another parent or responsible teenager helping for sure on this one!
Well, I hope this offered some excitement to your summer party planning…As for me, I’m off; I have multiple parties to put in my planner before they are overtaken by a blur of other activities. And I know that, more than anything in my planner, I want to seize the opportunities to make a child smile and fill the backyard with fun and laughter. It’s not the cost that counts, it’s counting the child before counting the cost, and consistent as time, it does not cost much to count the child first. Have fun with your little ones and seize the smiles!