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  Kid Themed Birthday, Classroom and Fun Parties

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Helpful Hints for Kid Party Planning...


Age-appropriate parties:


Parties have been designed for a specific age group but can be modified by you or by me to fit a different age group. Older kids can obviously do more and can also be involved in the preparations and shopping. Younger kids need shorter parties and fewer and/or less complicated activities (though this doesn't mean you should PLAN less for them to do.)


Note: A good party always has plenty to do to keep the kids engaged...so plan more as a fail-safe...not enough to do can be SCARY (i.e. bored kids make their own fun!) Also, if the kids are having fun with one activity, no need to try to rush them through something just because you have more planned. Use their interest level as your guide. Keep the low cost/low prep time games as extras as needed.


Keep the children's age in mind when planning. You cannot expect five year olds to understand the game at a Clue party if the suggested age on the game is age 8. Also, you probably would not have a princess party for a 12 year old girl without a lot of flack and embarrassment.

If you expect having a mix of age groups at the party, have activities that would be suited for a variety of ages, or choices of activities that kids could do at their age-appropriate level.


Best age for Parties:


In my humble opinion, "friend" parties are best suited for children starting at least around age three or 4. Truly anything for younger ages are merely for the adults involved and should be kept low-key and low-stress for all. Children parallel play until a given age and much interaction with friends does not typically begin until age 3-4. For those younger age parties, a few decorations and a small and easy craft or low-stress easy activity, a short period of time (hour to hour and half), and that includes parents is best suited ages 1, two and possibly 3. By age 5, children can begin to understand more complex games and crafts and are much more social.

A good rule of thumb is that the young child party is not complete until the birthday child (or someone--possibly you!) cries at the party!


Activity Planning:


Plan out your agenda with some flexibility in mind. To have a successful party it needs come with some "reading your  If you stay in tune to the tone of the guests, you will notice when things are going smoothly and an activity should continue a bit longer and when kids are ready to move on. Even though you have activities planned to get through--if the kids are having fun just tossing balloons around just ride with the interest level. The idea of a successful party is to be sure the guests are having a good time. Be flexible.  


The most frustrating experiences happen for party throwers happen when you have a plan and it doesn't work out the way you want it to. It's okay if you do not get through all you have planned. It is always better to have more planned than you can possibly do anyway. Keep as much as you can in its original container so you can take it back or store it away for another party.


Remember it is your child’s party.  Plan things to make them happy, not you.


WEATHER: Keep on an eye on the weather report if any of your activities are to be outside.  Have a back-up plan in place for weather issues.


ALL prep work should be done before the guests arriving to the party to ensure your sanity.  


Note: A good party always has plenty to do to keep the kids engaged...so plan more as a fail-safe...not enough to do can be SCARY!  Also, if the guests are having fun with one activity, no need to try to rush them through something just because you have more planned.  Use their interest level as your guide.  



Inside or outside?


Inside or outside activities? This should be a “no-brainer” question if the party takes place in an unlikely time for any outside activities!

If you have  weather at the time of your party think about your climate at the given time of year.  If it is usually pleasant weather than you can have some or all of the activities outside.  However, it can even rain on your party day in the summer! (I know!) So have a back-up plan for any activities that are weather dependent.  Watch the weather forecast throughout the week and plan accordingly.  



How long should the party be?


Always consider the average attention span for a given age group.  Obviously, younger children will not have as long of an attention span as older children.  So with that in mind, plan for your age group.  


If you have a three year old, keep the party relatively short– Time for one or two games, cake and presents.  Possibly about a hour to a hour and a half.  You can allow some activity the lends it self to be an open ended activity rather than structured games with rules.  (Dancing or playing with balls or balloons falls into the “open ended” category)


Older children can handle longer parties.  I usually like to plan out the activities that I would like to do, then plot the length of the party and figure out how long each activity should take.  


Keep also in mind your patience level with children.  If you know you cannot handle 15 little kids for 2.5 hours, do not set yourself up for frustration.  Keep it short and simple (guest list also!)


Whatever you decide, have plenty for them to do but go with the flow if they like on particular game.  I would say around age six or seven, kids can handle a 2-3 hour party, can you?


What time should the party be?


This takes up a lot of brain space trying to figure out the best timing for everyone, deciding if you want to include a meal, working out nap times (for younger), activities (for older)... The list goes on.  


My suggestion is to pick your date.  Then decide if you want to include a meal (it saves money if you do not.)  Pick your time what works best for your kids’ and family’s schedules.  You will never find a time that works for everyone’s schedule.  Those who can come, will be there. Those who cannot will come another year.


The 3-5 PM time tends to work well for little ones and preschool age (you can limit your party to a hour or hour and a half).  one PM and after tends to work pretty well for kids no longer needing naps.


As the kids get older the guest list tends to go up as they enter school, but the busier schedules get, so less kids tend to be able to show.  So in elementary grades and up it just depends on your child’s schedule and what time works for your family.



Movie watching:


It is a good idea to preview the movie and/or check out web sites like commonsensemedia.org or Rotten Tomatoes or others for reviews about movies before allowing guests to see it at your party. Please consider all guests before showing a movie to assure age-appropriateness for all.



Help for Parties:


Enlist friends, relatives, or parents to help out to help your party go more smoothly, particularly for younger kids' parties. Plan ahead so you can delegate things for them to do so make your experience more pleasurable as well! Have an adult party to chat with friends.  


When selecting helpers, be sure you can rely on them to help!  Have a back up plan, just in case!  Be sure to give them a reminder call a few days before, so you can see that they are still coming and you still have time to find others, if they can no longer help out.


If parents stay, enlist them to help! They’ll love to participate and you will love the help!


Guest List for Parties:


The suggested guest list for parties should be contained to what you feel your child can handle (and what you feel able to handle!) If your child has many friends...you do not have to invite all of them! Consider the mix of kids. Another rule of thumb is if you are not sure the amount to invite, count the age of the child plus one more. Example: if you child is turning 5, then six guests. This is merely a guideline.


Don’t send invitations to school unless you are inviting the whole class.  Use the school directory or have your child get the children’s phone numbers of the students they would like to invite so you can call for the address or email address to send the invitation.


You can check with your child’s teacher about bringing in a treat for the whole class to help them to celebrate with everyone that way.  


Also, it is important to remember when your own child is not invited to a party, not to take it personally.  Many people spend too much money on parties trying to please everyone.  Think of it as you are saving that family money.  It doesn’t mean your child does not have friends.  Many families stress over who to invite and who would feel badly if they weren’t invited.  


An important suggestion with a limited guest list is to teach your child about the concept of discreetness--(i.e. mailing the invitation or putting it in their mailbox, rather than handing it out at preschool or school. So others will not feel left out.) Try to remember not to talk up the party particularly around kids or parents of others who may not have been invited. Younger ages will have a harder time with this. Teaching them can begin early that it will hurt others feelings if you talk about parties in front of others who may not be invited. Good for adults to remember too!


RSVP Etiquette TIPS:


If you send out an invitation to a specific person, you would imagine that only that person in the family would come.  Oddly, some parents have been known to send or ask to send younger/older siblings to the party. When put on the spot, you must decide what to say and how firm you will be in replying to that request.  If you are the kind of person that thinks “the more the merrier,” than this may not be a problem for you, particularly if the request comes from a good family friend.  However, others might find it in bad taste to have siblings sent along with the invitee.  Technically, the person’s name that is on the invitation is the one that is invited.  It is best to just to find a babysitter if you are looking for a night out.


{Anchor:RSVP}RSVP: Means "please respond." It is standard practice to reply to a RSVP request, whether confirming attendance or declining.


When you put this on your invitation, the sad truth is not everyone remembers their manners or maybe just do not know what it means. You could very well not know if people are coming. It is also not safe to presume that people are not coming if they do not RSVP--some just show up. Maybe it is the embarrassment of trying to tell someone why your child is not coming...the best way handle it is to call and say that your child would love to come but you have other plans for that day and graciously thank them for the invite. A long winded explanation is not necessary and party throwers really should not hound people. Plan for a few extras coming that did not RSVP and move on.


So, if you would like to know if people are coming, try putting on your invitation "for planning purposes, please let me know either  (And always try to remember to RSVP yourself to others' party! Okay, off my soap-box.)


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