Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Worried Your Kid's Party Won't Go Well? Here's How To Make Sure It DOES!

What if my child's birthday party doesn't go well? What if it tanks?!

I was nervous about Lily's at-home birthday party this past Saturday. Of the 8 kids we'd invited, only three were scheduled to show up (with several people not RSVPing until the day before – SERIOUSLY people?! Show some consideration!). It was starting to look more like a playdate than a party. So what do you do when your child's birthday party could, potentially, fall apart? Here's what saved the day:

  1. Have an agenda and back-up plans. With the party being in October and the uncertainty of the weather, we had an indoor itinerary and an outdoor one. I'd planned on the kids doing a craft, but the birthday girl nixed that idea at the last minute. Since the weather was nice, we opted for relay races, obstacle courses, and Lily even made up a few games herself.

  1. Have extra food on hand.   Munching kids are busy, happy kids.  Based on the mid-afternoon time slot of the party, I'd vetoed the idea of pizza in favor of having just snacks and cake. Bad idea. Fortunately, I'd had the foresight to buy the ever-popular Bagel Bites on hand and when I saw the kids gorging on the Doritos, I whipped up a batch of those easily-microwaveable pizza bagels. They were a hit.

  2. My FAVORITE kid's game - for parties or playdates!
    In advance, PURCHASE THE GAME HULLABALOO! I bought it years ago, when my son was in preschool and am convinced that it's THE GREATEST GAME EVER INVENTED FOR KIDS 9 and under! It's so simple that they can play it on their own, with friends of all ages. The game consists of different colored and shaped pads you place on the floor and a main “console” with one button that plays clear-cut instructions. You go from pad to pad; sometimes you dance on the pad, other times you contort into Twister-like positions or pretend you're playing a musical instrument, etc. The unit goes off if the kids haven't played it in a while. I used to carry it in my car because if the kids ever got bored at a relative's house or were on a playdate that they didn't get along with, I could whip it out. The game can be played indoors or out and it's tons of fun. Even the teen will play it with his sister. We brought Hullabaloo outdoors and the girls played it on the patio for at least 45 minutes.

  3. Give the birthday kid some control. Lily, thank God, is an outgoing child who manufactures merriment when she's with people. She came up with variations on the races, threw some duct tape on the patio which the kids used as a balance beam, good naturedly mocked her own performance, and was having so much fun that it became infectious. Her out-of-the-box thinking and positive attitude really made the party enjoyable for all of her guests. 

    What would a kids' party be without music & dancing?

  4. Make sure music is involved. Kids LOVE to dance and be silly, so either have a dance party or play Freeze Dance. To play, just put on an upbeat song. While the music is playing, the children dance. When you pause or stop the song they have to freeze. Technically, whoever keeps dancing after the music stops is out, but we modified it so that whoever had the silliest face on when the music stopped won. I didn't give out any prizes, but everyone laughed at the goofiness of the game.

Don't forget that you need to have a positive attitude, too. Kids get a lot of cues from adults. When they see that you're honestly trying to please them, they respond accordingly. Really, it's about the birthday child having fun, the cake, games, and favors. Children know that “party” means “fun” and they're prepared to have a good time.

What could have been a flat party, turned into one where the children were all begging to stay even longer (we wound up extending the festivities for another hour). Thank goodness, Hubby and I were able to relax and enjoy Lily's big day. And the biggest payoff – Lily had a blast!

Here are more tips on how to survive your own kid's birthday party.

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