I’m an event producer by day and mom 24/7. Even with 10 years of professional experience, planning my daughter’s 3rd birthday party was an emotional rollercoaster. It was my first time planning a party for her as we don’t have any family nearby and at 1 and 2 years old, she didn’t have a ton of friends to invite. (I was honestly worried she would be friendless forever.) Luckily, that is not the case. After starting school, she has tons of friends and has been to several other birthday parties so we felt like it was the perfect time to start hosting a celebration for her special day.
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I started planning 4 weeks ahead of the party date and quickly realized I had a lot of work ahead of me. I felt the need to pick a theme so I went with “rainbows”. Not exactly creative but cute, colorful and fun. I pride myself on being the “glam mom” so I felt the need to create an Instagram-worthy food and dessert display. This is where the pressure really started to build.
I needed to decide what activities the kids would be engaged in for the 2-hour party. Tie-dye seemed to fit with the theme, would be easy for parents to help with and tie-dyed shirts would be a cute party favor for each kid. (No gift bags needed!) With a summer birthday and limited space indoors, I knew we also needed a warm-weather activity for the backyard. After a bit of research, I opted to rent an inflatable waterslide from a local bouncy house vendor. While it was over-the-top in every way at 14′ tall and 40′ long, I knew it would provide endless entertainment for the kids and was reasonably priced for a 3rd birthday.
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Now I needed to work on the decor. I scoured google for the fanciest balloon garlands that could be delivered and installed at my home. I settled on marbled pastel balloons in a rainbow display and when I finally got a quote back it was exorbitant! This is where my vision took a hard left turn.
After consulting with other mom friends, I realized that my daughter doesn’t care about balloons. She doesn’t care about Instagram or showing off a fancy cake to her friends. I decided to let go of my grand ideas and make it a stress-free experience for me and memorable day for the kids.
My husband convinced me to order pizza instead of making an elaborate menu of healthy food options. He was right – why add more work to my plate? I barely have time to shower every day. When was I going to make 50 rainbow fruit skewers?! I also caved and got juice boxes, something I have never bought for my children, because they would be easy on-the-go drinks for the kids playing outside.
After all of this planning, I somehow had put sending out the invitations on the back burner. BIG MISTAKE! I finally was able to print and send them to school to be sent home in each child’s lunchbox 10 days before the party. The following day, I learned that another girl in her class had a birthday the same weekend. Competition. I was so nervous that no one would come and the party would be for nothing so we started inviting everyone we know: neighbors who we barely see, acquaintances with kids and our adult friends.
In the end, everything worked out and 10 kids came to the party. While we had rainbow and cloud plates and cups, the theme for the party ended up being that it was a day dedicated to my daughter. The waterslide was perfect and the kids spent the entire party splashing in the pool, flinging themselves down the slide and dumping water on each other. Not a single child tie-dyed but it served as a great backup in case the weather turned on us.
Having the party at our house and using disposables made it so easy to clean up along the way and provide on-demand refreshments to our guests. It was a relaxed and fun day for everyone. When our guests had finally gone home, I felt so proud. I was proud of myself for pulling it off. I was proud of my daughter for being such a great friend and tiny hostess. My heart was soaring with love for my family and it made me to happy to have made my child so happy.
All in all, there is lots to consider when planning your child’s birthday. As a great host, you want to be sure your the kids are comfortable, fed, entertained and most importantly, that it is easy for the parents.
A few tips:
- Send out the invitations early so that parents can plan ahead and that your child’s besties are able to make it.
- Make it easy on yourself. You and your child will have a better time if you’re stress-free.
- Set the kids up for success by providing a primary activity and they will find a way to continue to entertain themselves
Now, I’m off to help my daughter write her thank you cards.