Shared by Jenny

Birthday Party Planning

  • Plan to keep the birthday party short and sweet (one to two hours) to match your guests' short attention spans. Children ages one to three get cranky if they're kept awake too long.
  • In general, the best times for young children are late morning (after the morning nap) or late afternoon (following the afternoon nap). To plan the birthday party when your child is most alert, pay attention to your child's day to discover the optimum times.
  • Try planning the birthday party for a weekend. The children won't care what day you select, but a weekend birthday party is usually more convenient for the adults who will attend.
  • For ages one to three, be sure to include the parents as guests, so they can help their own children participate in the birthday fun.
  • One guest per each year of your child's age, plus one extra guest, is a good rule of thumb. Too many guests may put the party at risk of deteriorating into an almost unmanageable gathering with a fair amount of crying.
  • Plan to get extra help from a babysitter, grandparent, or friend-so you can participate in the party activities and share the fun with your child.
  • Another way to plan ahead: Stock up on film. Take lots of pictures, but avoid shooting flash photos too often. Camera flashes can irritate young children and make them edgy. Be sure to use film that photographs well in indoor lighting.
Shared by Jessamine

Plan for Breaks during the Birthday Party

  • For ages one to three, some children have difficulty handling the extra excitement and attention at birthday parties. To help keep your child calm and relaxed, plan to give him or her a nap or rest period before-and after-the party. In addition, allow for some "time off" during the birthday party-such as a break in the kitchen alone with you while you prepare the treats.
  • If you think that other party guests may have trouble handling the excitement, plan for that, too. Tell parents they are free to take a break from the party — let them know they can go for a walk around the block with their children or spend some time in the backyard.
  • The wise parent also plans for meltdowns. If your child cries or has a tantrum during the birthday party, take him or her to another room to provide a break from the noise and activity. Then give your child something specific to do for the birthday party to help ease into more cooperative behavior. Doing a simple chore helps relieve tension, distracts attention from a problem, and makes a child feel more in control.
Shared by Tiffany

Plan to Keep Birthday Party Guests Occupied

  • Plan to have lots of extra playthings on hand to amuse the young ones and lots of birthday favors that party guests can take home. They will delight in having something new and be less likely to be jealous of the honored child's birthday gifts.
  • For ages one to three, some children prefer the gift-wrap to the gift, the frosting to the cake, and the old toys to the new toys. That's perfectly normal - let your child enjoy the birthday party his or her way, and recognize that not everything goes according to plan!
  • On that note, remember that you shouldn't be so rigid in your birthday party planning that you feel compelled to force reluctant guests to participate in the fun and games. Some children simply need time to adjust to the novelty and excitement of a birthday party. Many prefer to watch the fun-and they enjoy the party just as much!
  • Ask the birthday child to pass around the gifts, and promise him or her that they will come back! If the birthday child doesn't want to share the new toys, set out a box of toys the other party guests can play with. Or, make it part of your game plan to give the guests their favors early in the party. That way they can play with them during the party and then take the favors home.

Planning Your Child's Birthday Party Menu

  • It's especially important to plan your birthday party menu. Check with parents to make sure their children don't have any food allergies, and plan the feast accordingly. If that is not possible, let the parents know which foods are off-limits for their child. If you have pets, be sure to discuss animal allergies as well, making any needed adjustments.
  • Keep treats simple, but decorate and package them creatively; the snacks should be fun, but safe to eat.

Go with the Flow

  • If the birthday child dozes off during the party, let him or her sleep. Some children shut down if there's too much excitement. Keep an eye on the sleeping guest of honor while entertaining the rest of the party guests.
  • Plan for the unexpected. If the birthday party guests like the props of the game better than the game itself, let them make up their own play. If they won't touch the food you've prepared, they won't starve. If they want to go home, they can go home. If they won't leave parents' laps, they can still enjoy the party. And if they fight, it will be over in a few seconds and they'll soon be friends again.

Wrap It Up

  • When departure time arrives, mention that it's getting close to your child's rest time and begin to clean up and get out the birthday party goodie bags. This should help wrap things up for those parents who had planned to linger. It's important for you and your child to have some time alone after the event, and for the birthday party not to seem endless.
  • After the birthday party is over and your child is asleep, sit down, put your feet up, and enjoy the memories of this very special occasion. You can clean up the mess from the well-planned event when your child wakes up-that's half the fun for him or her!