30 October 2017

A birthday party is a special day for your child every year that offers the opportunity to socialize with friends. Creating a party can sound daunting, especially with a busy schedule, but following a few easy steps can allow you to have a party that is enjoyable for everyone.

Step 1: Pick a Theme

Having a theme that ties everything together is a great organizational tool. Whether it is a superhero, space, or medieval theme (to name a few), having a theme will give you guidance on everything from gift ideas to decorations and even costume ideas for attendees. What it also does is prevent the theme from inadvertently being “look how awesome my child is,” which kids who are school-aged might find uncomfortable or overwhelming especially with friends around. Having a theme based on something they enjoy takes some of the pressure off of them while still allowing them to share their interests with friends and family. The most popular mainstages birthday party themes are Mystery, Space, Superheroes, and our Game Show theme.

Step 2: Have a Budget in Mind

In the quest for making everything “perfect,” purchases can quickly spiral out of control. You can often find yourself late in the game buying decorations that are overpriced and duplicitous to ones you bought previously simply because you feel they are slightly better. Having a budget going in allows you to prioritize what aspects of the party you want to focus on (whether it’s decorations, the cake, entertainment, etc.) and can stop you from making frivolous purchases. mainstages, for example, offers three packages to fit different budgets and requests to help get the right entertainment the first time.

Step 3: Send Invitations Early

Once you have a guest list that you are comfortable with, you should send invitations to your guests early so that they can block the date off. Other families are just as busy as yours with school, work, and family engagements, so the sooner they know about your plans, the better they can prepare for them. While most people opt for sending electronic invitations now, consider using a combination of email and a physical invitation. With a physical invitation, the connection is more personal and quaint. While people enjoy the ease of email, something physical will make it stick out in their mind better and make it more “real” for them than simply seeing it on a screen. Also be sure in all your communications that you provide any pertinent information about what kind of activities will be at the party and if it will affect what a child brings or what they will need to wear (ex- if it is a pool party, be sure to mention early and often that all guests need to bring a swimsuit). In addition to this, be sure to mention what kind of food will be at the party.

Step 4: Consider Your Location and Decorations

Whether you are renting a venue or having a party in your own home, the location will play a key factor in how you prepare. If you want to invite many guests, and your home does not accommodate that, you may want to reconsider. What kind of activities are available? Is your location easy to get to? These are important thoughts that can help shape what your party will look like from guest list to decorations. Speaking of decorations, use them! Even your home can go from ordinary to “Party-Central” with a few items hanging from the ceilings or adorning the walls.

Step 5: Think About Food and Naps

People know that birthday cake is pretty standard fare at a party, but less often thought of is whether or not there will be a meal. Some people opt for snacks, and others decide to cook for everyone. Regardless of what you choose to do, make sure that you time your party appropriately based on your food choice. If you are serving a meal, schedule your party during lunch or dinnertime. If you want to do snacks, try to schedule it during the day from around 2pm-5pm. This way, people have time to give their kids lunch or dinner when they get home. The same goes for considering naps. If your child is under 2, avoid 9-11am and 1-3pm for your party time. If your child is 2-5 years old, try not to plan between 12:30-2:30pm. Finally, an important consideration is if there are any food allergies among your guests. Even if you think you know all the allergies, it’s a good idea to ask about it in your invitation so that when parents RSVP, they can alert you. Be sure that any alternate food you prepare or purchase is no less “special” then what others will be eating as you don’t want kids feeling left out.

Step 6: Provide Entertainment

Activities that you plan yourself are a great idea, but outside entertainment (like a performance) is also compelling. Consider a combination of both, with a craft AND a performance at your party to make sure that all the kids are engaged with something. Farming out entertainment is also a great way to get one aspect of the party off your plate. There are a wide variety of options out there that can fit your budget and your theme that can kick your party from good to great.

Step 7: Don’t Forget the Parents

If parents will be attending the party with kids, you will need to realize that the party is as much a social gathering for parents as it is for the birthday child and their guests. One of the reasons that activities for the kids are so important is because it gives the parents time to hang out with each other. This almost seems as though you are planning two parties, but the version for parents can absolutely be a more low key affair that is informed by the kids’ party rather in opposition to it. Think about it this way- the point of keeping kids engaged is keeping the parents relaxed!

Step 8: Reach Out to Other Parents (and use techniques from other parties)

Have you ever taken your child to a party that you really liked? Did the host do something that you thought was a great idea? While “copying” may not be the right word, if you see a tactic, party favor, or entertainer that you like, try using or doing something similar at your party. As long as it isn’t the EXACT same, guests who attend both parties will have a great time.  Feel free to reach out to other parents to find out what has worked for them in the past. Whether it’s a bakery for a cake or an entertainment company, other parents will have plenty of ideas of their own based on experience. Not to mention, if you have already seen something in action, you have a better idea of what to expect. Who knows, perhaps something you do will be so popular that it amounts to a birthday tradition that everyone can enjoy!

As a final bonus step, remember to have fun! Planning a perfect party is by no means an exact science, but keep in mind that you need to relax! While a certain amount of stress is needed to keep things on track, too much can give you tunnel vision and hurt the party. You are already a great parent for putting in the time to make your child’s day truly special for them. At the end of the day, as long as the birthday child has fun, you’ve done your job!

Would you like mainstages to be part of your child's special day? Check out our reservation form to get the party started!