By Lara Krupicka
Birthday Party Basics Five Building Blocks for a Successful At-Home Bash
any parents face their children’s birthdays with a mixture of joy and dread - joy at being able to celebrate with their child and dread over how they’re going to go about that celebration and how much it will cost. The at-home birthday party, once the universal form of celebration has been largely replaced by a variety of venues offering party services. And parents often turn to these places out of a desire to avoid the difficulty of hosting the party themselves. But planning and hosting a birthday party can be simple if you work with five basic building blocks.
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Theme The most basic building block and the foundation on which all the others will rest is your party theme. It also will be the easiest since most kids have an idea of what “kind” of party they’d like to have long before their birthday rolls around. You’ll find with a theme in mind, many of the other pieces will fall in place. If you need ideas, check out the article that begins on page50–you’ll find 12 creative themes geared to each month of the year. Food A group of active kids is going to need fuel. You’ll want to consider how much of your party you want to devote to eating when choosing the time of day to hold your bash. Mid-afternoon parties meaning serving lunch. Late afternoon parties lend themselves to fun munchies. As you lay out your party plan, be sure to leave time for eating, even if
it’s simply designating “cake time”. And if you’re serving a meal, make sure you’ve planned time (at the right time) to get everyone served and fed. Marnie Ann Pacino, author of “Cool Party, Mom!,” suggests keeping the food simple, particularly since kids can be picky eaters. But simple doesn’t have to be boring. “Make it fun!” says Pacino. “The simplest of snacks can be partied up by serving them in a new way.” Particularly if you’ve got a crowd of older kids, creating the food can become a bigger portion of your party time. Build-yourown mini pizzas make a great meal kids enjoy both preparing and consuming. Or set up a taco bar and let them get creative. Make your own sundae bars are always a big hit. Games and special activities Silly party games make up the bulk of a successful at-home party. This is your chance to let the crowd wiggle and giggle and run around. To prevent the wildness from getting out of hand, intersperse your games throughout the party. Play one game early on to get things rolling. Then switch to another activity before playing another game. And always plan more games than you think you’ll need. They tend to go much quicker than you realize when played by a group of lively kids. Three to five games usually fit well into a 2 to 2 ½ hour party. And remember to look for ways to customize the games to fit your party theme. A game of “Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone?” can become “Slipper, Slipper, Who’s Got the Glass Slipper?” for a princess party. Pin the tail on the donkey is an easy game to adapt to any theme. Make a simple bean NEAPOLITANfamily • July 2014
6/23/14 5:59 PM