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How to Plan Your Child's Birthday Party

Your baby’s first few birthdays are really milestones that mark the anniversary of becoming parents. You blow out the candle(s), open the gifts and guide your little one throughout the birthday celebration. This is a chance to create memories that will last a lifetime, so remember successful birthday parties don’t happen, the good ones are planned. The secret is keeping the party manageable, yet flexible. Here are a few of the important details that need your consideration.
The Invitation
Children's Birthday InvitationsDon't feel you must create a theme to build the party around. Your party already has one theme-it’s a Birthday Party! Your invitation can center around favorite stories, interests, songs, or characters. There are a wide variety of party invitations on the market at very affordable prices.  You can choose from "fill-in-the-blank" styles, print them yourself or have your invitations custom printed. A custom printed invitation makes a wonderful, personalized keepsake of your child’s special birthday.
The Date
Setting the Party Invitation Weekends are great, especially if you want help from your spouse or baby-sitter. A small child won’t care if the party isn’t on his birthday.  If your child’s birthday falls on a holiday, make sure you send out the invitations extra early or consider having the party on another day. Also be sure to first check the date with guests without whom the party wouldn't be a success, such as grandparents, godparents, or best friends and make sure their schedules are free.  Otherwise, you might be having two parties!
The Time
Setting the Birthday Party Date For a one-year old, keep the party short. A good way to ensure your party won’t run all night is to only serve cake and ice cream. They are really the main components of a party anyway. Remember to consider nap times and other schedules too.  A happy child after a nap will love being the center of attention.  For older children, keep an eye on the clock, their energy levels and their interaction abilities with other party guests.  A cranky guest of honor is no fun for anyone.
The Decorations
Birthday Party Decorations These are the magic that transform your home into a special place, and they don’t have to cost a lot. You can decorate with crepe paper streamers, (attach to your walls with toothpaste, it will wash right off), balloons with curled ribbon tails to bounce on the ceiling (buy helium balloons the day of the party), and inexpensive posters (attach with rubber cement, it will rub right off). The cake can be your centerpiece with party hats, blowers and party favors arranged around it.
The Birthday Cake
The Birthday CakeFor kids, the cake is the party, and a "squash cake" (a small cake especially for the birthday person) is a must! Put it on their highchair tray or sit them on the table with their squash cake between their legs. Some children will be very dainty and gently touch it and taste it and not make much of a mess. But other kids will pat and hit the cake, dig their fingers in for a handful, and even put their face in it for a big bite. A video camera is a must for this! It will probably be your favorite part of the party, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a child that’s not shy with the cake! (A garden hose and extra change of clothes are usually a good idea too.)
Birthday Party FavorsThe Party Favors
Favors are definitely a must at any age. From simple sacks filled with a variety of small items to personalized party pails or boxes, there’s something to fit any budget.  Pass out the favors as your guests are leaving.  They will love diving into them on the drive home.
Birthday Party EntertainersDon’t let the entertainer be a surprise to your child. It could prove to be terrifying instead of terrific. Consider the age, interests and attention span of the children present. A one-year old might enjoy a puppet show, a brief visit from a clown, or a story teller.  Local or regional magazines that focus on kids are great sources of ideas for party themes as well as finding the perfect entertainer to hire for your party.
Capturing the Birthday Party MemoriesCapturing the Memories
At least a day before the party, make sure you have charged your video camera battery and have checked your still camera batteries or digital camera memory available.  Make sure you have plenty of video tape and film set out in plain site so you know where it is when you need it!  Some disposable cameras sitting around for your guests to also capture the action can yield some of the best pictures of you, the parents, with your child.

You might also like:

    ...What to include on Invitations

   ...Building Your Party Timeline

   ...Preparing Your Shopping List

   ...Preparing Your Home for a Party

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