Party Planning Tips...The Guest List




Guest List

I just spoke with a mom planning her first party, and she asked how many kids she should invite.

 The general rule, often ignored: age plus one. That means four friends for a 3-year-old's birthday. For toddlers, it's best to invite at least one friend he or she sees a lot and feels comfortable around. (If your child goes to daycare or preschool and is used to being with a large group of kids, she can probably handle a few additional guests.)

On the other hand, grade-schoolers have definite ideas of who they want to invite, so you can use the opportunity to teach them to be considerate of others' feelings. Explain why inviting 10 out of 12 kids in the class is bad form. Better to invite everyone and hope for some no-shows. Inviting 4 out of 12 kids, however, is more a matter of discretion and will work better if the bash isn't held immediately after school. In that case, the invitations should then go out by USPS or email.

Teach your child not to talk about their upcoming party around those she didn't invite (and then cross your fingers), says

Also, be sure and write your first name on the invitation so guests who RSVP won't have to ask for "Billy's mom".



Ask for RSVPs, but Don’t Worry About Stragglers.  It’s always handy to know how many people are going to show up at your party, especially when guests arrive with siblings. But a few RSVPs are bound to get lost in the parenting chaos. Plan on a few extra portions of food and don’t worry about it.

Next week I'll share some activities to get the creative juices flowing for your party (even if there isn't a theme).


Party Planning Tips...Location



Welcome Back.  So you chose a date, the best friend is available and you've checked for allergy restrictions.  Now we'll cover how much you want to spend for a clean house.  Huh?  Let me explain...



 If you decide your home or apartment isn't suitable for a children's party, there are several off-site options that come with obvious advantages (including being able to come back to a clean home after the children have been picked up). For a small fee, you can often reserve space in a community recreation center or local park. Kid-friendly restaurants, gymnastic centers, fire departments, and hands-on museums are also popular. Parties away from home usually work better for children over five since younger children may be overwhelmed by unfamiliar surroundings.

There are also the self-contained venues such as Chuck E Cheese, Golfland, Etc.These are a great idea for older children, but they usually cost a bit more than you’d think. You know your child better than these venues do. But, they are classics for a reason.  However, for younger children, and for a smaller group it's nice to have the party on their home turf.

For groups of seven or less children, a few games, a dance party, cake, and presents (more ideas on this in a few weeks) can be a fun day and not too overwhelming.

This completes the foundation for having a stress free party. Over the next few weeks we'll cover RSVP's, goody bag do's and dont's, activities, entertainment, and a special offer ONLY for those that have requested the cheat sheet.

Next week we'll get into the fun part of the planning.


Party Planning Tips...Food


Last week we explored some timing elements to keep in mind when planning a birthday party.  Today, let's look at feeding the group.

Food at the Party. 

For brief parties, cake and ice cream is really the only refreshment you need.

Many young children look at the cake as the focal point of the whole birthday ritual, so be sure to let them help make it (or select it from the bakery).

One family I visited hosted a “Floor Pizza Party” by putting personal-sized pans of dough on the kitchen floor (one for each guest) and letting the kids put on sauce, cheese and other toppings. (Pepperoni, mushrooms and other vegetables make great eyes and noses for pizza people.) As with all aspects of party planning, try to give familiar favorites a personal twist, turning chicken wings into “Dinosaur Wings” for a prehistoric feast or serving chicken drumsticks for an orchestra party.


Depending on the age of your child, you might want to forgo baking a cake, and order something simple from a favorite little grocery store the day before. Gaining popularity at a lot of parties is to order a small decorative cake and then cupcakes. For some reason, a lot of kids choose cupcakes over cake every time.

Tradition dictates that the birthday boy or girl gets the first piece of cake (and that they will probably choose the piece with the most frosting and decorations on it). Consider having more than one flavor of ice cream on hand, however, since young children can be picky eaters and prefer ice cream over cake. Older guests may actually enjoy preparing the food as much as eating it, so consider substituting cooking for a craft.


What about Snacks…..?


Snack on finger foods. The less complicated the party dish, the less you have to clean up later. One really cool idea gaining popularity is “Tacos in a Bag”.

Essentially you brown your protein of choice the night before or morning of the party.Prep the fixins' buffet style. Hand every child a bag of tortilla chips (Doritos, Fritos, etc) have them add their fixings and protein and the bag acts as a shell. No spill, fun to make and eat, and EASY clean up.

You’ll also want to offer a variety of foods. Ordering a few pizzas takes care of the main course, but think about including fruit, nuts, cheese, crackers, or popcorn for snacking.

Avoid food allergy mishaps. You don't want to find out after an allergic reaction that one of your party guests can't eat nuts or gluten. Ask for any dietary restrictions when people RSVP, and plan your party menu accordingly. Additional birthday food ideas can be found here.

When it comes to beverages, Greg Jenkins of advises, it’s not necessary to load up on expensive bottles of water and cans of soda. "Use pitchers of water (with cucumbers or fresh fruit inside) and make a creative lemonade punch that can be served in glass dispensers," he says.


Next week we'll focus on the location of the party and include pros and cons for having at you home vs an offsite location.


Party Planning Tips...Timing



For some parents planning a child’s birthday party can be a blast while other moms and dads find the party planning process stressful and a chore. Whether you opt to host a large expensive kid's party event or prefer a small gathering with family and close friends, it is important to plan a birthday party that is fitting for your child’s age and temperament and takes into account your family’s style and budget.

Young children often get overwhelmed and over stimulated easily. We have all been to birthday parties where children are in tears over costumed characters or overwhelmed with the large numbers of unfamiliar faces. Consider your child’s personality and preference and plan a party where your child can be comfortable, be himself, and have fun.

With thoughtful planning, kid’s birthday parties can be meaningful occasions of joy and celebration with limited stress for adults.  Now, onto the good stuff….


Party Planning Timing 

It’s best to start planning your party 4-6 weeks in advance.

To help you, I’ve created a checklist cheat sheet as a free gift.  Just shoot an email here, and I'll get it right to you.


  • Choose a few dates around your child’s actual birthday (weekends before and after and maybe even a little further on either side). If their best friend is not available the day you are considering, choose another date. Celebrating with their partner in crime is a bonding experience, and also gives your little one some calm if things get hectic.


  •  Weekend parties are better for younger children and family can attend too, while older children will enjoy an after school party, if you can manage it. They love spending all day in anticipation of going home together, plus your party won't clash with a Saturday sport. If you are planning a Sunday party, keep in mind some people attend church in the morning.


Team Up with a Friend

Does your child have a good buddy with a birthday in close proximity? Team up to reduce effort (and scheduling) for all!

The time of day you choose to start your child's party depends on whether you want to serve a party meal or cut straight to birthday cake .

Serving a meal? Start the party between 11.00am -12.30pm or 5.00pm - 6.30pm

If you plan to serve cake only, have your party two hours before or one hour after traditional meal times so your guests won't arrive or go home hungry.



Next week we'll talk about the ins and outs of food for the party (allergies anyone?)



Fountain of Youth

I found the key to staying young forever!


Consistency is Overrated

I just can't seem to force sub par content on a weekly basis.  So instead I'll share a video from awhile where a group of kids form a line to give me a high five after a non-subpar performance.


My Parent's Win an Award...For Embarassment

I've spent the past few days at my parent's house watching their dog, which is fine, as my apartment doesn't allow pets (or air conditioning, apparently).  While organizing some magazines and miscellaneous "stuff", I came across an envelope of photos. My mom advised that they had come across these "blast from the past" memories and shared some of my greatest moments with my cousins at a recent get together.

It doesn't matter how cool you think you are, leave it to family to keep you humble.  Since they are going to surface at some point, it makes sense to get ahead of this.  No


Trying to blow fire    

Cool 90's style!


Those rings aren't going to link themselves.












Happy 4th of July


Happy 4th of July.  Hope you find good food, good company, and good times!


Throwback Thursday



It's been over a month.  I'll be real for a second.  Between a recent death, and a MAJOR flu (in the summer none the less...get your flu shot) I've been binging on old Homestar Runner cartoons.  I'll be in the field this weekend filming more tips, and tricks.  One video was scheduled to be filmed at the mall, but the store manager wouldn't provided clearance so that's on the back burner.  So to hold you's a throwback to a Halloween show (timely AND topical)


See ya next week.




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