HDYDI: Birthday Parties

I don’t think it comes as ANY surprise to my readers that I’m a big birthday fan.  Always have been.  I’m already planning Scott’s big 4-0 and it’s over a year away.  I’m a planner, it’s what I do.

At Luke’s birthday party this weekend, a friend asked me how far in advance I plan.  Then, that led to another question and then another and then I figured…hey, I can blog about that on Monday.  Amber and Katrina, this is for you 🙂


1.  I would like to tell you that I scour the internet for hours looking for ideas, but the reality is – I DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME, PEOPLE!  Nah, I do it the old-fashioned way.  I get inspired by something and it takes off from there.  Case in point, while I was out shopping for Luke’s party stuff, I came across the most brilliant, adorable, on-sale party favor for Anna-Laura’s birthday…which is next May.  I have a corner of my office closet dedicated to all my inspirations for birthdays.  I guess I’m a hoarder like that.  Except organized.

2.  In 29 birthday parties, I’ve never repeated a theme.  Not really by design, it’s just that each kiddo has wanted to do his or her own thing.

3.  While I have had a handful (maybe 3?) parties away from home, most of them are a family, house-hosted affair.  I do love that some places host AND clean up for you, but I love the at-home gigs.  They just feel homier.  I think they remind me of all the parties my mom threw at  home and I loved every one.  Even the nerd party when I turned 13.  Remember that, Mom?

4.  I enlist an army to help.  My mother-in-law usually comes down and our schtick is putting together party stuff the night before until about 10pm.  She’s a great worker bee and she’s always willing to give me her honest opinion.  My parents usually bring in the cavalry the day of picking up all the stuff I forgot.  And, my brother almost always takes the photos.  Without him, there would be no documentation of my children’s milestones.

5.  I get up close and personal with Etsy.  I’m telling y’all, you can find more fabulous inspiration and great goodies from that site.  Yeah, I know you can find it on Pinterest, too.  I’m slowly easing into that addiction.

6.  I’m a BIG believer in user-friendly, practical and fun party favors.  I know my kids love the bags full of plastic toys, but they almost always end up in the trash at our house.  They either break or get lost in about five minutes.  I just try to think of something reusable or practical that the kids can make or I can buy fairly inexpensively.  Let’s see, we’ve done some really fun favors:

Garden party:  hand-print pots with hand-potted flowers

Outdoor party:  water bottles, compass/thermometer keyring

Mermaid party:  sand bucket, bubbles, Gatorade

Art party:  hand-painted canvasses and stamped tote bags

Western party:  handmade stick horses, crayon holders, art pads

Cookie Monster party:  jars of cookie ingredients that the kids assembled

7.  We take the age of the kids and the number of guests into account.  For Will’s first birthday, we had like 1,500 people come.  Never again.  The next year, it was just family.  And, usually my kids don’t get a big “friend” party until they turn 5.

8.  It’s always good to have some backup activities.  For everyone except my January kid, we can do an outside activity.  But, I always make sure the party can be held indoors if it rains.  HA.  I haven’t had to worry about that this year!

9.  I try to remember the details.  Those are what I remember most about my parties as a kid.  My mom always took the time to make sure the parties were as special as the birthday girl.  I suppose it’s one way I show my children just how much they’re loved.

10.  Most importantly, the birthday boy or girl gets to decide what they want to do.  One year, Will wanted to go small, so we did.  It was great.  One year, Anna-Laura was all about brunch with a few friends and their mommas.  Either way, I make them an active participant in the planning and getting ready.  It makes it really fun for everybody.  I have been known to say, “Oh, wouldn’t this make for a fun party?”  Usually, we’re on the same wavelength.

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