5 Tips for planning a stress-free birthday party for toddlers

Planning a birthday party can be stressful. If you ever do a web search for birthday party ideas, your results are bound to return a link to thousands of ideas on Pinterest. And if you click on Pinterest, two more things are bound to happen: You will get addicted to scrolling through the endless pins, ever so creative and beautiful. And you will be overwhelmed by the seemingly perfect decorations, which could lead to more stress. It may happen in this order, the other way around, or altogether at the same time. But birthdays don’t have to be stressful, or at the very least, you shouldn’t let it be.

For me, January is the big month for birthdays. Not only it’s the beginning of a brand new year, but it is also the month both of my boys were born. Planning a birthday party in January used to stress me out big time. My oldest son’s birthday is only two weeks into the year, right after a month full of festivities including my husband and mother-in-law’s birthdays, Christmas, and New Years. Needless to say, I’m usually spent by the time my son’s birthday rolls around. Add to the mix the fact that I had very little prior experience with little kids’ parties, and that in the East coast, the month of January is usually associated with freezing cold temperatures, and you get the perfect recipe for stress!

The fact that my youngest was also born in January, exactly 10 days after his older brother’s birthday, has actually been a blessing in disguise. First, I get to celebrate two parties in one day (that’s right boys, sue me. Ha!). Second, because I may or may not be superstitious, I prefer not to celebrate a birthday before its actual date. That means, I get 10 extra days to plan the party!

So, while I don’t have the whole birthday planning ordeal down pat to a science, I have narrowed it down to 5 general tips that will help ease some of the stress that comes with planning any type of event that involves young children.

  1. Set a budget

This is the first thing I do when planning a party. Before you can think about splurging on fancy favors and candy bars or making every single decoration from scratch, you need to know how much you’ve got to spend. This will also help you determine how big or small your party will be, how much you can allocate to food, favors, decorations etc. Knowing your budget ahead of time and how you’re going to spend it will save you a lot of the stress. This may mean that you start saving months in advance, or that you tap into the savings account to fund the party. Mind you, I’m not talking about thousands of dollars here (though you could if you have the disposable income for it). But even if we’re talking about $300-$500 for the party, it is better to have the money set aside ahead of time. The last thing you want to worry about is how you will pay for all the party expenses!

  1. Decide on how many guests you’ll invite

Another factor in helping you determine the details of the party is your guest list. How many people are you going to invite? Will they all fit at home, or will you have to rent a venue? One of the downsides of having a birthday party in the winter is not being able to use the backyard as extra space for the guests or for activities for kids. Also you’ll need to know how many children are invited to prepare the favors. For us, our birthday parties are relatively small. I say relatively, because our house gets filled by just inviting my kids’ cousins! As the kids get older, we’ll ask for their input on who to invite. For now, we just limit it to immediate relatives.

  1. Pick a theme

A third factor in helping you determine many of the details of the party is the theme. Themes are important, but not crucial. And they don’t have to be super intricate. They can be as general as a “construction” theme (last year’s party, stay tuned for photos) or as simple as a color scheme. You can certainly have a party without a theme, because after all, the real theme is your child. The reason why I think themes are important, though, is because themes will help you decide on details like decorations and ideas for favors, thus reducing the decision-making stress on your end. One more perk is that you get to pick the theme while your young ones are still young, so might as well pick something you’ll enjoy and get others excited about it! Our party this year is all about superheroes, and not only am I excited about it, I’ve heard from family members that they are looking forward to dressing up too! (the adults!).

  1. Space out your to-do list

The other day I read that you should start planning a party as early as 6 months in advance. I’m sorry, what? Six months before my kids’ birthday I want to be enjoying the summer. You can certainly start thinking about the party ahead of time, and taking advantage of seasonal sales. I personally give myself a month, that is because I want to have time to print the invitations and mail them out to my guests with enough notice. Once I mail out the invites, that’s when my crunch time begins! So the next step is to make sure all orders are scheduled (cake, chairs, tables, venues, etc.). I usually start buying and/or making any decorations at least two weeks before the party. For the favors, I do all my shopping online at Amazon. We have a Prime subscription, which means that most of the items I order arrive within two days. Plus, you can find a great selection of party favors that match your theme for a fraction of what you would spend at party stores. For the last to-do’s, create a small and concise list of things that absolutely need to be accomplished the day of the party, like buying or inflating the balloons! Space out the rest as your schedule allows.

  1. Have fun!

Don’t lose sight of what the celebration is really about – your child! At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much or little you stress over the party. I think everyone will agree that the ultimate goal is for your child to feel extra special on his/her day and that you create memorable moments of the celebration. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and look at the big picture. Remove the things that are causing stress, and focus on the things that will bring that beautiful smile on your child.

Do you have any helpful tips to share? How do you plan your kid’s parties?

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