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My daughter turned 10 years old this past weekend and although I was depressed that both of my kids are in double digits now, I didn’t let that deter me from planning a fun party for my daughter. She wanted a Michael Jackson Dance Party as the theme for her big 1-0 birthday. It was actually incredibly easy to plan and the girls had a blast – the ultimate goal of any party! This week I’ll share a series of posts explaining how it all danced out at our house and how you can easily throw this party for your child. I won’t stop ’til you get enough. In today’s post, decorations! When you see how easy these decorating ideas are, you’ll wanna be startin’ somethin’.
We used black and white as the theme for our decorations. Why so gloomy? Both to pay homage to his song, Black or White and because that is pretty much all the man wore. We concentrated on three decorating areas to create a party atmosphere – the “dance floor,” the hallway as kids walked into the house and the table.
For the dance floor, my daughter made a Welcome Sign out of black poster board and metallic paint markers. I found some images of Michael Jackson dancing online, printed them on our color printer, and taped them to the wall. I didn’t have a disco ball – something I should have rented if I had thought of it earlier - but I wanted to create a dance area in our family room.
I saw a similar idea on Pinterest which inspired me to hang black and white balloons with curling ribbons from the ceiling over our dance area. It was super easy and looked so cool.
On our hallway wall, we took string and created a “clothesline” to hang photos of Michael Jackson. We clipped each photo that I printed onto the line with wooden clothespins. I printed more than one of the image I liked best to create a pattern.
To decorate the table, I covered it in a white plastic tablecloth that would be easy to roll out and toss at the end of the night. I took some black glittery mesh and cut a piece as a table runner down the center of the table. For the centerpiece I took two black and white curling ribbon bunches that I purchased at a craft store and layed them out in the center of the table. I added two black candles sitting on mirrored circles that looked like a flat disco ball. Then I added a plastic fedora hat in the center. Black and white plates, napkins, and cups round it all out. For the final touch, I scattered silver jewels around the table and hung curling ribbon from the light fixture over the table.
Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing photos of the Birthday Cake with instructions on how to make it, so check back.
Kids birthday parties can easily get out of control when it comes to spending. We’ve all seen the extreme examples on TV where parents drop $10,000 or more on their kids party. While I certainly don’t fall in that category, I have been surprised some years by how much we did end up spending on our kids parties, once you added it all up. Sound familiar?
Whether you fall into the camp that believes kids birthday parties are out of control and way to extravagant or not, here are some ideas on how to spend less on your child’s birthday party. That way you can spend that money on something else …. like taking the family out to dinner, hiring a service to clean up after the party, or getting a puppy. (Maybe that’s a little extreme.) Psst! Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post to download my FREE Kids Party Planning Worksheet to make planning a breeze.
1. A Scribble is Fine.
I like a beautiful invitation as much as the next person but let’s face it, it’s going into the garbage as soon as the party date has passed. For adults, a party invitation sets the mood for the event. For kids, it just tells Mom when and where to bring her child. So, why not take one of your kids drawings, write the party particulars on the bottom, make copies, and call it a day. Or save even more money and a tree by sending an evite. Above, you can see the invitation my daughter made for her Spa Birthday party.
2. Stand Up for the Cake.
For every one of my kids’ birthday, I just make a chocolate cake and then put their toys on the top of the cake to decorate it. Plastic horses, fairies, Star War or Lego guys are all perfect to decorate a cake and make it fit the party “theme.” The kids think it is so cool to show off their favorite toys on the cake. The cake cost me $5.00.
3. More Does Not Equal Better.
Limit the number of kids. Don’t feel like you need to invite every kid in your child’s class or on their sports team or who talked to your child at the playground. More does not equal better for either Mom or the birthday child. Too many kids is overwhelming for all. Only invite the number you are comfortable supervising. My rule of thumb is if I’ve never heard my kids mention a child’s name or met the other child’s Mom, I am certainly not going to ask them to plunk $20 down for a gift for my kid. I certainly don’t like buying a gift for a kid I’ve never heard of, so why would they.
4. Kill Two Birds With One Stone.
Make sure one of your birthday party activities is also the take home favor for the party guests. If you tie dye T-shirts at the party, the T-shirt is their party favor. If you decorate pirate chests, the kids take home a nice pirate chest. If you have a cookie decorating party, the kids take home a bunch of cookies. Don’t buy an extra party favors! You’re covered already. (No birds were harmed in the creation of this tip.) (more…)
I love to plan kids parties. For me, it’s a lot of fun to come up with creative ideas and surprise my kids with a great time. I like being able to customize the parties to the theme that interests them most, whether it be luchadores, mustache parties or my daughter’s soon-to-be Michael Jackson dance party. But it definitely takes some planning to host a fun and memorable kids party. To help me plan my kids parties I put together a party planning worksheet to make sure I don’t forget anything and stay organized. I’d love to share that with you so you can be a party planning super hero!
Lots of kids want a theme for their birthday parties, but some don’t. Especially as your kids get older, they tend to be less infatuated with tying their party to their favorite TV show, book, or kids movie. While a theme sometimes makes it easier to plan a party, at least for me it helps keep me focused and not falling in love with every party idea I see. However, throwing a fabulous kids party without a particular theme is lots of fun because you are free to do ANYTHING. Here are some fun decorations, games and craft activities for any kids’ birthday party.
It’s fun to surprise your son or daughter when they come down to breakfast or enter their special party room with these felt birthday banners. They are high quality so you can use them year after year for each child.
I love to do a craft activity at a kids birthday party because a high-quality craft can become the party favor each child takes home. You kill two birds with one stone amusing the kids at the party and providing a nice party favor. No need to buy plastic trinkets to stuff in a bag. Here are some of our favorite themeless kids craft kits that we sell at ChocolateCakeClub.com, perfect for kids’ birthday parties.
Planning a Princess birthday parties is royally fun. I was hired to plan and host a Princess Birthday Party last weekend for a lovely 5-year-old princess and 20 of her classmates. The party was a huge success for the princesses and their parents. If you have a little girl who wants a princess party this year, here are some ideas on how to decorate and entertain the kids.
For a princess party, you can’t go wrong with pink. To decorate, we focused on the tables where they were going to craft and the tables where they would eat. The country club was pretty enough as it is, we just had to add the princess theme. We used our Meri Meri Princess Castle Pop-Up Centerpieces on the two food tables. The country club provided the pink tablecloths and we added the princess flair with the castles. The birthday girl was thrilled to take the castles home to play with after the party.
I also used our Meri Meri Princess Garland but we personalized the garland with the birthday girl’s name. (We will be adding this service to our ChocolateCakeClub.com site very soon!) My daughter has a book of princess poster illustrations that I brought along to hang on the walls, as well.
I made tulle pom pom balls for the table. Here’s the tutorial I used to make them. They added some nice color to the center of the craft table. I also used white and pink tulle to tie a bow to the birthday girl’s chair as a seat of honor for her special day. We also hung a few paper pom pom balls from the ceiling over the craft tables.
Finally, I added some pink, white, and purple balloon clusters and well as some boa feathers my daughter had in her dress-up box. It was a pretty room for a princess.
Games and Activities
Sure, decorations are nice but you want to know the “meat” of the party, right? What did we do to amuse 20 kids for 2 hours?
We did two crafts which were a huge hit with the girls. First we made candy necklaces and bracelets. I purchased some hot pink plastic lacing. Even though this isn’t edible, it was more sturdy than using licorice as the “string” for the jewelry, which I have seen people use. Little girls get frustrated when they tear the licorice. And, they will. For the “jewels” we used gummy lifesavers and fruit loops. These were the most colorful and had large enough holes for the lacing to go through easily. I put the candy out on the craft table in plastic cups so it was easy for the girls to reach and share. Once the girls were done making their jewelry, we tied the ends and they wore their creations for the rest of the party.
Next, we made tiaras. Everyone knows you can’t be a princess without a tiara. At the ChocolateCakeClub.com, we sell this Twinkle Tiara Mosiac craft kit that is AWESOME for birthday parties or playdates. The kit includes 6 different tiara designs and the girls can decorate them with the sticky 3-D mosiac tiles and jewels.
I love these tiara kits for parties because there is no glue needed, just peel and stick the little jewels and tiles on the tiara. That way there is no big mess and if the girls are dressed in their princess dress up clothes, you don’t want their Moms mad at you if they gunk up their dresses. The tiaras in the kit are printed with “stick by number instructions” for the kids to easily follow. However, if your little princess doesn’t want to follow their design, she can flip the tiara over and decorate her own way on the back which is just pink foam.
But the best reason to love this birthday party activity kit is because it engages the kids for a LONG TIME. I had budgeted 20 minutes to make the tiaras at the party and they were still at it – QUIETLY- 30 minutes later. Even the two boys spent 30 minutes decorating a tiara. They loved having to concentrate, follow the numbers and stick the decorations.
We played two games at the party after they ate lunch. (The country club did such a cute job making the buffet table closer to the ground so it was perfectly kid sized. )
The first game we played was Princess and the Pea. We put pillows on the floor and hid a golf ball under one of the pillows. I played fun kids music from Princess Katie and Racer Steve while the princesses walked around the pillows. When I stopped the music they sat on the nearest pillow. Whoever felt the “pea” received a certificate that said she was a real princess. (If you have a large group, use 2 or 3 “peas” each round to keep the game moving faster.)
Next, we played Princess Freeze Dance. I played kids music and they danced until the music stopped. Then they had to freeze. Whoever didn’t freeze fast enough was out. Sometimes little kids get hurt when they are “out” in games so to make sure no princess had a bad day, whoever was out that round was asked to lead a Royal Parade around the room. They had to wave like true royalty, of course. It all makes for great video to see the princesses dancing and waving around the room.
I purchased pink, green and purple craft handled bags as the party favor bags for the guests. We created a custom tag for each bag thanking the guests for coming and to remind them of the party. The girls took their candy necklaces, bracelet, tiara, and princess certificate home in the bags.
Does your little princess have a birthday party coming up? Want to throw her a spectacular party to celebrate her royal day? At the ChocolateCakeClub.com, we’ve been putting together what we think are the most fun and impactful decorations and party activities to thrill your princess and her guests. It’ll also make you look like a party-throwing hero.
If you are looking for something fun to do with the kids while they are off this summer, I highly recommend getting them over to 2BU Studios to have fun making their own music CD or video. I met the owner of 2BU Studios, Cathy Wolfson, this year and I just love her business. There is so much fun to be had at her place.
Built as an entertainment playground, the studio offers your kids the chance to be a rock star. With a full recording studio and green screen video room, the kids will have a blast singing their favorite songs and walking home with a music CD and/or video.
Cathy invited my kids and I out to the studio to try it and we had a blast. The kids were a little shy or nervous about “performing” at first but they got into it. The studio has some great video “producers” who encourage the kids to break out of their shell. If you had a large group of kids this wouldn’t be an issue but with just the three of us, it took a moment for the kids to get into acting goofy with Mom.
2BU Studios also offers kids the opportunity to make their own comic book, if they just don’t want to perform.
2BU Studios is offering some 3-hour Mini Summer Camps that sound awesome for kids 6 years old and up. Kids can sign up to make their own Zombie Movie, Record Their Own Podcast, Star in Their Own Comic Book, and even make their own song or TV commercial parody. The 3-hour camp only costs $40! That’s a lot of fun for the price.
Here’s the coolest part. 2BU Studios offers programs for kids with special needs, so literally every family can come and have a good time.
2BU Studios is definitely a unique place to host your kids’ birthday party or take a Scouting or Adventure Guide group. But I thought a visit to the multimedia studio could also be a great way to have some family fun and create memories.
Here were some ideas I had for family projects.
Instead of writing your Holiday newsletter this year, make a family video asking each family member to share their highlights of the past year. Upload it to YouTube and share it with family and friends.
Make a video for Dad’s birthday with the kids singing and dancing. A very funny gift!
If you have a big family event coming up – anniversary, family reunion, wedding, milestone birthday, etc. – why not video friends and family sharing some of their memories or favorite stories. Have everyone meet at the studio and have a blast.
Make a video of your family history. Talk about where you came from and show pictures of your ancestors. It would make a fun family gift for everyone.
Grandma and Grandpa could come in and create a video of them reading their grandkids favorite stories. The studio will help you put some fun graphics in the background using the green screen. It’s a great way to keep in touch with grandkids who live out of town.
Before the Holidays, have the family sing some Christmas Carols together and then play the video or CD during your family celebration for laughs or send it out to people as a “virtual” Christmas caroling party.
You can check out the 2BU Studios website here, for more information and to book your session. http://2bustudios.com/default.aspx
With Disney’s Cars 2 movie opening this summer, race cars and race car birthday parties will be a big hit with birthday boys. To make Mom look like a hero, we wanted to share some easy ideas for crafts and activities to host the best race car themed birthday party ever. We also have some gift ideas to share with grandma or Aunt Susie.
Craft Activity Ideas
1. Decorate Your Own Race Car. Your party guests will have a blast decorating their own race car with these Melissa & Doug Wooden Race Car Kits, that we sell at ChocolateCakeClub.com. Paint the cars when the party starts so the paint can dry, then after some of the other activities, you can race them on your driveway for more birthday fun. Not only will it keep the kids amused designing and racing, it also serves as the party favor. A 2-in-1 bonus for Mom! Perfect for ages 4-years-old and up.
2. Design a License Plate. Grab some grey or silver foam sheets as well as foam letters and car stickers at your local craft store. Cut the sheets into a license plate shape by rounding the edges. Then let the kids decorate to their hearts content. You can help them think up some racer names like “Lightening McQueen,” “Red Rocket,” or “Black Thunder.” Or look online for some funny vanity plates and share them with the guests to inspire their creativity. Perfect for ages 3-years-old and up.
3. Draw some Custom Rides. For older boys, they’ll love designing and drawing their own custom rides with the Custom Rides Design Studio. Add some extra markers or colored pencils and watch the boys design and draw their dream car or motorcycle. Grab some inexpensive frames from the craft store so the boys can take their drawings home. Perfect for ages 8-years-old and up.
Whether you are hosting a race car theme birthday party or just racing your Matchbox cars on the driveway, here are some fun treats to make for the kids to get their engines revving. We got the inspiration for these treats from MakeandTakes.com, and their race car party post. We just built upon her theme. It was so easy to make these race car treats that you can either make them ahead of time for the kids or have them make their own. (My kids wanted to make their own.)
Looking for any excuse to have a summer party? Idea #7 in our 51 Ideas for Summer Family Fun Activities is to throw your kids a half-year birthday party. A what? Throw them a fun, summer birthday party even if it’s not their birthday.
If your child has a winter birthday but has been really wanting an outdoor, summer theme, why not throw the party now when it is warm out? Or, if your child has always been bummed that their birthday falls too close to Christmas, have their party in the summer this year to spread out the gifts and make sure their special day doesn’t get lost in the Holiday chaos.
You can do some fun and wacky things for a half birthday like serve half a cake, only wrap half of the gift, when you sing “Happy Birthday” just sing every other word. If girls are invited and it’s a spa theme party, paint only half of your nails. Put makeup on half of your face. Once you have determined the them of the party, then be creative to tie in the “half” theme. “Happy … to ….” “Happy … to …” Halfbirthdayparties.com has some fun party ideas like starting the party at half past the hour, cutting all of the party food in half, or singing “Halfty Birthday to you, Halfty Birthday to you.”
You certainly don’t have to make the party centered on the “half” theme. Just throw a regular birthday party with a theme that excites your child most for his or her friends. Then on their real birthday, just have a quiet celebration with family.
Who knows? These half birthday parties may become part of your family’s birthday celebration traditions.
For ideas on some fun kids party themes, read some of my popular kids birthday party posts:
Do your kids have a birthday coming up? Want to throw a unique, awesome party for them? Watch my appearance on WCIU Chicago where I share tips on Throwing a Kids Birthday Party at home as well as suggestions for popular and timely party theme activities. We’ve got you covered with Princess, Slumber, Pirate and Race Car party ideas.
They highlighted our Kids Birthday Party Entertainment Kits, which was thrilling for us. We are working on developing new birthday party kit themes like Princess, Race Car, Slumber Party, Jungle Safari, Going on a Bear Hunt, and Down on the Farm. (more…)
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Can you believe that 107 years ago, Theodore Geisel changed the world by teaching children to read, and enjoy it, when he introduced “The Cat in the Hat.” We want to honor his memory and thank him for entertaining and educating us and our children. He has stimulated our imaginations and engaged us with fun, humor and a whole lot of goofiness. To keep his memory alive, here are 6 ways to help celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with some family fun activities. (more…)
Still not sure what to do today or tonight to celebrate New Year’s Eve with the kids? Here are some last minute suggestions to bring on the fun.
If you live in the Chicagoland area and have little kids, head on over to Make A Messterpiece today for their New Year’s Eve Kiddie Countdown Celebration. From 9 a.m – 1 p.m., they will be having all kinds of fun activities to help you and your little ones ring in the New Year with a mess. It’s $18 for the celebration this morning which includes all activities and a balloon drop at noon. Get dressed and head on over now. (more…)
I was thrilled to be invited to WGN-TV today to share my ideas for a Kid-Friendly New Year’s Eve Party. Watch the video and let me know what you think. What do you normally do for New Year’s Eve? If you stay home with the kids, how do you celebrate?
This past weekend for our Halloween fun activity, we decorated cupcakes. I had seen so many incredibly cool cupcake designs on other sites that I wanted to see if we could recreate them. The goal was to make them for the kids’ school Halloween parties this Friday, but guess what? They’re gone already.
There are a million cupcake recipes out there to make the cupcakes from scratch (go ahead, Google Cupcake recipes and prepare to be overwhelmed) but we made life a little easier and just chocolate cupcakes from a mix. We were in the mood to decorate, not bake. So, how did we do?
Jack Skellington Cupcakes
I love the movie Nightmare Before Christmas so when I saw these Jack Skellington cupcakes on the Disney Family.com site, I started to drool. I thought it was easy to do and the instructions were very helpful however, my daughter got mad because she couldn’t get the face to come out right. You need fairly good icing control. Her cupcakes looked like a cool ghoul, but not exactly like Jack.
Spooky Owl Cupcakes
Owls are the “it” animal this year, as I said in my post Owls are Hot! Hoo Hoo Knew? So, my daughter, who was a big fan of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole wanted to make these cupcakes. You can find slightly different versions of these owl cupcakes on a variety of different sites (as I said, owls are hot) but we chose this photo at TheCupcakeBlog.com as inspiration.
We used, chocolate frosting, Oreos, white frosting and M&Ms. These cupcakes were super easy and my kids could put them together like pros. We frosted the cupcake. Split open Oreo cookies for the eyes and “ears.” Once the Oreos are split, take the piece without the white center and break them into “ear” shapes. Then put M&Ms on for eyeballs and an M&M turned sideways for the beak.
The only two issues we had were that the Oreos were hard to break open. I remember as a kid you could just twist them apart so I don’t know what’s in these cookies now but the centers are like super glue. These needed to be pried open with a knife or they would break in pieces. Also, when we did get them to break open cleanly, the white center part had black crumbs all over it from the other side of the cookie. It didn’t look like a nice, clean, white eyeball. So we used white frosting on the inside of the cookies which actually made it easier for the M&M eyeballs to stick. All in all, a great recipe for the kids.
Spider Web Cupcakes
Our inspiration for these easy spider web cupcakes came from Bakerella.com. We did it in reverse with white frosting on the cupcake and a black web. We also used M&Ms for the spider since we had them out anyway.
Finally, we just got out our collection of sprinkles, almond slivers, and other toppings to create our own ideas. Creating bats, cats, tarantulas, and werewolves was a pretty fun afternoon with the family.
Have you made any cool Halloween cupcakes that you’d like to share? Send me a link to your photos and I’ll post them on the blog.
I was in a pancake mood last weekend so the kids and I decided to see if we could make Halloween pancakes. We didn’t have any Halloween pancake molds (I know Willams Sonoma is selling some) but we were able to “draw” them freehand with our pancake batter pen we purchased from WS.
We added black food coloring to half of the batter to use for bats and cats. We then used the white batter for ghosts, skulls and tombstones.
Sprinkles, almond slivers, and cinnamon hearts helped us be more creative. Although cute, we just used Bisquick pancake batter and they were pretty dry and boring tasting.
(The Gruyere and canadian bacon scrambled eggs my husband made were pretty darn tasty though.)
Looking for some party favor ideas for your upcoming Kids Halloween Party? Well, in addition to candy, candy and more candy there’s always small toys, spider rings, bubble jars, glow sticks, erasers, and stickers. You can even find books or coloring books at the Discount stores for $1.00. What else can you make and what do you put these fun items in?
As a unique party favor, create some Lollipop Ghosts. Take 2 or 3 Kleenex tissues and place them over the top of a Tootsie Pop. Cinch the Kleenex sheets at the bottom of the lollipop and tie with a Halloween ribbon or yarn. Have the kids help you draw faces on these “ghosts on a stick” with markers. Place all of the candy ghosts in a cup for a nice decorative effect.
Get some brown paper bags and have the kids help you decorate them as goody bags. Use crayons, markers, or Halloween stamps to create some cute decorations.
You can create Halloween hobo bags. Take Halloween fabric and cut 12 x 12 inch squares. Place your goody bag items in the center, bring the four corners up and twist. Tie the bag at the center of the twist with black yarn, Halloween ribbon or raffia. Makes a very cute and very easy gift bag. If your items are bigger, cut a larger square.
Over at ChocolateCakeClub.com we sell some very cute and sturdy felt Halloween treat bags.
You can certainly buy a ton of Halloween decorations at the various Party and Discount stores but using a little creativity to dress up your existing home decor to have a Halloween flair can be the most fun of all.
If you are throwing this party for toddlers and young kids, don’t make the decorations too scary. You don’t want the kids afraid to go into a room of the house during the party. Stick with the familiar Halloween images like friendly ghosts, witches, and pumpkins. If your kids are older than 5 years old, you can get a little spookier with cobwebs, rats, monsters, and mummies.
Don’t feel like you have to use only orange and black in your color scheme. Throw in some deep purples, neon green or yellows into your decorating scheme. Most of your decorations for the table can be the food itself. If you plan on making some Halloween themed treats, then your food can take center stage for the table decorations.
Here are some of our ideas for creating some super easy, spooktacular decorations for your next kids Halloween Party. Your kids can help you make a lot of these, so it’s Family Fun time as well.
Buy black masks and put them on your pillar candles so that they look like mysterious bandits. Or you can make them with black construction paper. Use ribbon or string to tie the mask to your pillar candles.
Make some “Scarrots!” Put full size carrots upside down in black candlestick holders to look like candles. Add googly eyes for a scary, yet very funny decoration.
Use old trick or treat bags or small decorative treat bags to hold candy or Chex Mix as snacks around the room.
We like to take the kids artwork from the last few Halloweens and hang them around the house as our decorations. It’s cute, not too scary, and reminds the kids of what they made last year.
Let the kids draw ghosts and pumpkins on the windows with window markers before the party.
Take some muslin cloth cut into 1” strips or gauze and wrap it around objects in your house to make them look like a mummy. Vases, tall candlesticks, and plant bases are all great objects to wrap. Have the kids add googly eyes and you have some funny Mummy decorations.
We like to use the colorful Mexican Day of the Dead paper cutouts for Halloween decorations too. The bright pink, blue and yellow tissue paper cutouts feature scenes from everyday life but with skeletons. You can order them from this site or this one.
Whether you fall into the camp that believes kids birthday parties are out of control and way to extravagant or not, here are some ideas on how to spend less on your child’s birthday party, so that you can spend that money on something else …. like taking the family to a show or a buying a puppy. (OK, maybe not that.)
1. A Scribble is Fine. I like a beautiful invitation as much as the next person but let’s face it, it’s going into the garbage as soon as the party date has passed. For adults, a party invitation sets the mood for the event. For kids, it just tells Mom when and where to bring her child. So, why not take one of your kids drawings, write the party particulars on the bottom, make copies, and call it a day. Or save even more money and a tree by sending an evite. Above you can see the invitation my daughter made for her Spa Birthday party.
2. Stand Up for the Cake. For every one of my kids’ birthday, I just make a chocolate cake and then put their toys on the top of the cake to decorate it. Plastic horses, fairies, Star War or Lego guys are all perfect to decorate a cake and make it fit the party “theme.” The kids think it is so cool to show off their favorite toys on the cake. The cake cost me $5.00.
3. More Does Not Equal Better. Limit the number of kids. Don’t feel like you need to invite every kid in your child’s class or on their sports team or who talked to your child at the playground. More does not equal better for either Mom or the birthday child. Too many kids is overwhelming for all. Only invite the number you are comfortable supervising. My rule of thumb is if I’ve never met the other child’s Mom, I am certainly not going to ask them to plunk $20 down for a gift for my kid. They aren’t invited. I certainly don’t like buying a gift for a kid I’ve never heard of, so why would they. “Stephen, who?”
4. Kill Two Birds With One Stone. (No birds were harmed in the creation of this tip.) Make sure one of your birthday party activities is also the take home favor for the party guests. If you tie dye T-shirts at the party, the T-shirt is their party favor. If you decorate pirate chests, the kids takes home a nice pirate chest. If you have a cookie decorating party, the kids take home a bunch of cookies. Don’t buy an extra goodie bag! You’re covered already.
5. Don’t feed the animals. If you plan your party time right, you don’t have to feed the guests a full meal. Plan your party from 2 – 4 p.m. and you only need to serve cake and some munchies. Don’t spend the money on pizza or hot dogs.
6. Reuse and Recycle. Use the games, toys, and activites you already have at home to entertain the kids at the party. Have a tent? Set it up in the backyard or the dining room and they’ll play for hours. Have a Wii? Host a Wii tournament. Have a karioke machine? Throw a Diva party. Have a lot of tea sets? Host a Teddy Bear tea party. Have a cool telescope? Stargazing party! Have a million loose Lego pieces? Throw a Lego Party where you just dump all of those miscellaneous pieces on a table and tell the kids to have at it. (Actually, this is a great goodie bag idea. Collect all of those extra Lego pieces laying around that you can’t match up with any kits and put them in a baggie to give out as party favors. The kids love it and you can walk on your carpet again.)
7. Treat Bags are for Landfills. I’m sorry but when my kids bring home one of those plastic bags filled with candy, pencils and plastic spider rings, they immediately go in the recycle bin. Moms, you don’t have to give anything – there is no rule or birthday fairy who punishes those without treat bags. Don’t waste your money. If you didn’t do an activity where the kids could take something home already (see #4) and you do want a parting gift, keep it low key. Just buy a big candy bar and tie a ribbon around it. Or go to Half Price Books, buy old comic books and hand those out. (This was a HUGE, HUGE hit at my son’s last party.) Or I like taking a photo of the guest with the birthday child and either having someone print it during the party to take home or send it to them in the thank you note. That is something that will get saved.
I hope these tips have helped you keep the kids birthday party budget from spirally out of control and convinced you to get a puppy. (Adopt don’t buy, and you’ll save even more money.)
Planning a Halloween Party for the kids this year? We’ve put together some of our favorite games and activities to truly distinguish your house as the most Haunted Party Palace. I have listed these activities in order of age appropriateness to appeal to kids ages 2 – 12 years old. You’ll have a blast with these game ideas and make sure to take lots of pictures and video!
Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin
Similar to Pin the Tail on the Donkey, cut out a large pumpkin out of oversized orange construction paper. You could also draw one on a 3M Sticky White Pad, like we use at work for meetings, and that way it will stick to the wall by itself. Cut stems out of green construction paper and write each child’s name on the back so you know who’s closest. Use a bandana or scarf as a blindfold, turn each child around 3 times and let them at the pumpkin. Whoever sticks the stem closest to the correct spot wins a prize. (Suitable for ages 2-6 years old.)
Halloween Freeze Dance
This is a perfect video moment. Have the kids play freeze dance in their costumes. Turn the music on and off. Whoever doesn’t freeze, steps aside and gets a prize. Or just keep everyone dancing and everyone wins. This game is a favorite because it lets the kids release some energy and it’s so fun to see the kids dancing in their costumes. (Suitable for ages 2-8 years old)
Catch the Donut Game
I’ve got a thing for donuts so I prefer this game to bobbing for apples. Tie a string or yarn around some cider donuts and then hang them from the ceiling, spaced about 2-3 feet apart. (If you can’t hang them from the ceiling, you can tie the donuts to a broomstick and have two volunteers stand on chairs to hold the stick up.) The first child to eat the whole donut without using their hands wins. Note: Don’t use donuts with powdered sugar or heavy amounts of sugar coating. You’ll just create a mess on the floor and on the kids costumes. (Suitable for kids ages 5-12 years old)
This is a little twist on the traditional mummy wrap game. Have the kids take turns wrapping each other up with toilet paper, pinning their arms to their sides. Once they are all wrapped up, hold up a broomstick, turn on some music and watch the kids limbo. The guest who can not only go the lowest but keep their mummy wrappings wins a prize. (Suitable for ages 6 – 12 years old)
Kids love their birthdays and especially look forward to their parties. Moms maybe not so much. But, no need to worry. Consider having a really cool, really fun party right at home with these easy to implement ideas. Not convinced? Read our 11 Reasons to Have Your Kid’s Birthday Party at Home.
While hosting a home birthday party requires some creative steps and some extra clean up, it can be affordable, completely unique and totally fun. The theme ideas are endless, such as outer space, bugs or even a party revolving around your child’s favorite color to provide even greater opportunities to make it a one-of-a-kind event. Who wouldn’t want a birthday party that is Tangled Up in Blue?
Our best advice? Get you child involved. They will be thrilled to have input into their own special party. And they are typically so creative that they may put things together that you may never have thought of. If they choose a unique combination of Sponge Bob and dinosaurs, why not? Nobody else will have that same party. Sometimes, the best ideas are the silliest.
We found this great idea over at Parenthood.com to get you in the creative mood.
A boy wanted to have a Surprise Party, where he was in on the surprise. The guests were the ones who were surprised. Their parents were in on the secret and the boys were picked up at their homes – unaware that they were being taken to a birthday party. When they arrived, confetti flew, balloons were released and the birthday boy yelled, “Surprise!” The theme then continued with guessing games, treasure hunts and food that all had an element of surprise.
Or, you may want to try a Teddy Bear Tea Party where 4-year-olds all bring a favorite teddy bear or stuffed animal from home and award each one prizes for the floppiest to the furriest to the most silly. The games, cake and the goody bags all can revolve around a stuffed animal theme. As an activity the kids can make party hats for their bears, set up the tea table to look fancy, and make cut out cookies using teddy bear cookie cutters.
For a tween or teen girl, host a Backyard Movie Party. Print or hand make tickets to give the guests, set up a popcorn or sundae bar with weird and cool toppings, and set up lawn chairs movie style or set up tents and let them watch the movie in their pajamas. The girls can play dress up games or karioke too. Give out awards for the best starlets or divas. Here’s more information on how to host a backyard movie party.
Finally, what about an Olympics Party? Set up your bocche ball, baggo game, and other stations around the yard to have the kids compete. Don’t be afraid to make the games completely silly. Make older kids race around in tricycles for some fun. Set up an obstacle course for little ones. Hand out medals to the winners. Here’s more information on How to Host an Olympics Party and Set Up Backyard Olympic Games.
I hope these ideas have inspired you and you’re ready to get planning. If you have any questions or need some additional ideas for games, give me a shout.
Happy Birthday! Did you know that today is the most popular birthdate in America? According to quite few sites, October 5th is the most popular day to have a baby. Why? It’s exactly 9 months after New Year’s Eve. So, I guess we are really celebrating the memory of two parties.
I don’t know about you but New Years Eve was never a “lucky” night for me. Even before we had kids we never really celebrated that much on New Years Eve. After we had kids, well, we can’t even stay up long enough to watch the ball drop. But cheers to the over 968,000 people who celebrate their birthday today and to over 12,500 new celebrants who are born each year!
Some other fun birthday facts:
Among the ancient Greeks the big celebrations were for the birthdays of the gods. Only important family heads (men only) celebrated personal birthdays. The Greeks started the tradition of lighted candles on cakes. (Source: Ralph and Adelin Linton (1952). The Lore of Birthdays. New York: Henry Schuman)
The modern children’s birthday party came from Germany (kinderfeste) in the early 19th century, an era when the individual person was seen as important and when childhood was “discovered” as a special stage of life. These celebrations then spread to the U.S. (Source: Elizabeth H. Pleck (2000). Celebrating the Family: Ethnicity, Consumer Culture, and Family Rituals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.)
In an article in the University of Illinois Liberal Arts & Science Alumni Magazine, Elizabeth Pleck, a family life historian, tells us this about birthday parties:
In the early 1800s, well-heeled Victorians seized on the notion of a children’s party as a way to showcase their wealth by simultaneously indulging their children and instructing them in etiquette. Even party games had a socializing function, such as teaching the boys how to lead in formal dance. Party gifts were from parents to child, and significantly, sometimes from child to the servants. The unmistakable intention of the party “was to teach children the manners they would need to assume their place of privilege in society.” Consequently, birthdays were large and extravagant, orchestrated by the mother, usually with the help of a sizable staff.
And we complain about how birthday parties are outrageous and extravagant these days! Which reminds me, have you heard about our Kids Birthday Party Entertainment Kits? We wanted to help busy Moms throw a stress-free birthday party for their kids at home, without losing their sanity and all for under $200! We’ve done the legwork to provide Moms with our pick for the easiest and most fun activities and goodies for a kids’ party. Each kit has everything Mom needs to throw a fun 2-hour party, including a Planning Guide with simple tips and ideas for decorations, additional games, and food. Check out our Pirate Birthday Party Entertainment Kit and Garden Party Entertainment Kits.
Do your kids love Schleich toys as much as mine do? I swear we have every Knight and Animal figure they have ever made in our house and still the kids keep asking for more. Because I’m so familiar with these toys (I step on them in the hallway constantly) and because I have been working on Kids Party Entertainment Kits, I jumped at the chance to host a Schleich Fairy Party when they put out a call for several Mom bloggers to participate.
This is the first time I have ever had a manufacturer supply product for my blog posts. Normally, I mention products I carry at www.ChocolateCakeClub.com or I just tell you about products my friends and family love that we have purchased ourselves. However, we are considering selling Schleich products on our store site and this was just too good an opportunity to pass up to test new toys first hand. Now that the disclaimers are over, on to the party.
Schleich sent me some of their new World of Fantasy figures – Bayala Fairies – for both boys and girls, which we gave to each party goer. The boys weren’t too thrilled with the term Fairy so I told them the toys were either Elf Lords or Trolls. That worked! I then designed some fun, fantasy-themed party activities for the kids.
So that the kids wouldn’t fight over the Fairy figures, we decided to “assign” each Fairy to a specific kid. My daughter created little cards with a hint on where each child could find their toy in our yard. We said that the Fairies didn’t have any magic until they were found by their proper owner, so that no one would take a Fairy that wasn’t theirs. Since my daughter created the cards in poem form, the hints were a little vague, but the kids loved racing around the yard finding the Fairies and helping each other figure out the clues.
Now that each child had their own magical Fairy or Elf Lord/Troll for the boys, they needed to make a Fairy House or Troll Cave for them to live in. Although Fairy houses are supposed to be made entirely of items found in nature, I wanted the kids to have a container to take their toy home in. So, we went to a craft store and looked at all sorts of containers. We finally decided to go with Photo Boxes. First and foremost they were on sale (3 for $5) and they were sturdy enough to handle glue and rocks. We then bought “natural” materials for the kids to use for furniture in their house. We bought rocks, seashells, plastic ladybugs, pinecones, and feathers. We went around the neighborhood and found mulch, sticks and pine needles, as well.
The kids had a blast making their houses. Some of the fairies came with horses so some of the kids made stables in their fairy house. The boys built an armory with spears and weapon storage in their box. (Boys!) All were incredibly creative.
Next, we made magic wands (or troll clubs) out of pretzel rods and almond bark. We offered both white and black melted almond bark to dip the pretzel rods in and then an array of sprinkles and edible decorations to make the wands truly magical. Make sure you put wax paper down on cookie sheets to let the wands dry, or stay in place for decorating.
Decorate Fairy Wings/ Troll Masks
As our final activity, I found some paper Fairy wings and masks with elastic bands so the kids could play dress up. I had colored pencils, crayons and markers on the table for them to go nuts. You could certainly add stickers, foam shapes, or sticky jewels to make it even more creative. The kids then put on their wings and masks for some funny pictures.
As our final “activity” we had some snacks. We bought a chocolate cake and decorated it with one of the Schleich Fairies sitting on top. (Wow! That was easy and yet looked pretty impressive.)
My daughter is diabetic so we served Crystal Light to drink but I made the glasses extra fancy by putting colored sugar around the rim (a little extra carbs won’t hurt).
Finally, my son made Strawberry Ladybugs, which is a recipe we found in Barbara Beery’s Pink Princess Cookbook. My son made them all by himself, since the recipe was so easy.
We kept the decorations minimal since the kids were going to be inside and outside for this party. We ended up just decorating the craft and food tables.
The food table was decked out nicely with flowers, woodland animals, and a magical creature, courtesy of my daughter. Since our cake and Strawberry Ladybugs looked so colorful, we let the food be the main accent on the table. For the craft table, Schleich had included their Elf House Shadow Rock in our party kit. Since there were too many kids to really allow them all to play with it, we decided to use it as the craft table centerpiece. My son used his Knights and Elves to add some excitement and color to the Elf House.
The kids took home a lot of loot from this party. They had their Fairy or Elf Lord, Fairy House or Troll Cave, and extra magic wands. That would have been plenty of goodies for a party but Schleich had provided extra animal figures and gift bags. Each child got to take home a gift bag with some extra animal figures and I threw in some chocolate to make sure these kids went home with a big smile on their face.
The party took 2 hours total, it was very simple for me to host and plan, and was a huge success. I went and bought all of the food and supplies in the morning. It took my son, daughter and myself about 2 hours to decorate, set up the tables, and make food. The party theme and activities worked well for a mixed group of kids. We had boys and girls ages 4 up to 11 years old, and all had a great time.
I hope this inspires you to host your own Kids Fairy/Elf Lord/Troll Party. Whether it’s for a birthday or anyday occasion, your kids will have a magical time.
Did I convince you to host your child’s next birthday party at home with our post on 11 Reasons to Have Your Kid’s Birthday Party at Home? If so, you need to decide on how to keep these kids amused for 2 hours. The entertainment is THE most important part of the party. No, really. Kids could care less about how cool the decorations are. They don’t care that you followed Martha Stewart’s instructions to the letter … and it only took you 8 hours. (It is so sobering when you are feeling so proud of your crafting accomplishments and your kids say “What decorations?”) Save those cool decorations for an adult party where the guests will appreciate the time and effort you put in.
As for food, don’t stress about it. I like to make all kinds of themed party food because it amuses me. The kids don’t care. Kids like pizza. Or, they’d really prefer you skip the pizza and just serve extra cake. Make your life easy and give them what they want, if an elaborate, themed menu makes you break out into a cold sweat.
So how do you choose the entertainment for the party?
Depending on how much time, energy and money you want to invest, you could hire the talent, do the research and plan it yourself, or purchase a party entertainment kit.
1. Hire the entertainment. If you look in the back of your local Family Magazines, you’ll see hundreds of little ads for kids birthday party entertainment. You can find all kinds of fun options from magicians to reptile shows to science parties where things explode to music to tween spa treatments. You can hire a party planner who will do everything for you from the food and decorations to the entertainment. Obviously, that costs the most money but it’s stress-free for Mom. Or you can just hire someone to come in and do their “act.” There are a lot of birthday party entertainers out there, so I would suggest asking your friends who they recommend. If you and your child have already decided on a theme for the party then it makes it a little easier to narrow down the options.
However, don’t overlook thinking outside of the box for your birthday party entertainment. I know someone who just received her massage therapy license. Even though she isn’t a kids birthday entertainer, she was thrilled to go to a friends house and give shoulder massages during a kids party. I’ve been to another party where someone’s Dad is a carpenter and he was hired to show the boys how to build a birdhouse. (Obviously, the person you are asking to entertain the kids should be good with children. Don’t ask Uncle Phil who swears like a sailor. Even if he can make the coolest paper airplanes on the planet.) Call your local beauty school and see if they would send over some students to practice by giving some little girls “up-dos”.
2. Entertain them yourself. If you like to do a little research and plan out games and activities for parties (like I do) then knock yourself out. There are so many great party books or search online to find some terrific ideas on ways to have fun at a kids birthday party. Keep in mind that you’ll need probably 4 activities for a 2-hour party. Create an agenda to make it easier for you to see how much time to assign to each activity. If you are going to plan and run the entertainment yourself, definitely have at least one other adult helping you. There’s no way you can manage the activity, supervise the kids, get the next activity ready, and take pictures all by yourself.
3. Purchase a Kids Birthday Party Entertainment Kit. Wouldn’t it be great to purchase a kit that had everything you needed for a 2-hour party? That’s exactly why I created two, new Kids Birthday Party Entertainment Kits – Garden Party or Pirate Party – to make it easy for busy parents to throw a great kids party by providing everything you need to keep kids amused. For under $200, no less. Each kit has:
invitations and thank you notes
a craft activity
an additional activity like music for freeze dance or a cooking kit to make cookies
a Party Planning Guide that I wrote that has simple tips on planning the party, food ideas, decorations, additional themed games, and party favors (worth it’s weight in gold, if I do say so myself)
In the Guide, I’ve even broken the party activities down into an agenda, so you know how much time to spend on each activity! I also give you enough ideas for other games so you can plug in the activities that appeal most to your child or age group, or to have as back-pocket, extra activities if needed. Pull all of the pieces out of the box, buy some snacks and you are done. It’s easy peasy.
There are other “Birthday Party in a Box” packages online but double check to see if they include activities or just the party decorations. Remember, the hard part is keeping these kids entertained!
I was a guest on WGN TV Chicago yesterday, sharing tips on how to throw a fun, unique kids birthday party at home without losing your sanity and best yet, for under $200! Watch the video and see if you can figure out which kids are mine.
Moms, are you tired of generic birthday parties for your kids at the birthday party mills? You know, the ones where your kid is just a name on a room door and you need to be out in 90 minutes? Want to do something different and more memorable this year? Well, check out this video.
I was on NBC Chicago News last weekend talking about how busy parents can throw a fun, unique birthday party for their kids, at home and without losing their sanity. Oh, and all for under $200! Watch the video and let me know what you think.
We’re kicking off a series on hosting kids birthday parties at home so check back often as we share tips and ideas on how to host a super fun party including planning, food ideas, decorations, special needs party ideas, and fun games and activities.