How to give your child a cool birthday party!

There’s nothing wrong with having a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese or somewhere with bouncy houses, but with just a little planning and effort, you can throw a birthday party people will be talking about for a long time. My husband and I consider planning our 2 annual parties a hobby. We work on them throughout the year and we can take our time and spread the costs. If you choose your theme early enough, you can afford to wait for sales, clearances, and coupons to purchase many of the supplies.

The most important thing to decide is the theme. Your son will most likely have 2 cents to invest in this, unless he is young enough to let you decide. With our oldest son, we decided as soon as he was born that each year we would choose a different continent as a theme. When he turned 8, he finally got to choose his own. With our youngest son, we are looking at different periods of Americana, beginning with the California Gold Rush c.1850.

Once you have the theme, you can use a simple outline of what you’ll need and start filling it out.


The first thing you will need is an invitation to send. Most people are computer savvy enough to do simple desktop publishing from their own computers for this. All you need is some good paper or blank note cards, and you can fill in the details inside. We always liked to stay away from the boring look of filling in the fields, and rather make it relevant to the topic. For our son’s Egyptian party, it was a 1920 telegram announcing the discovery of a new tomb and asking other archaeologists to come help with the dig. The invitation should set the stage for the actual party. For example, the telegrams were printed on tan parchment paper and an actual telegram font was used for printing. They were slipped into windowed envelopes just like the old ones. An Egyptian sticker sealed the envelope, and we printed CAIRO in faded red letters on the front as if it had been sealed. The stamp itself is very important. Do not use a new postage stamp just because it has the correct postage. You can use any US stamp that has been issued as long as it has not been cancelled. eBay has tons of unused vintage stamps, and I bet you can find plenty to suit your theme. You may just have to use multiples or get different ones to equal the correct amount.


Next, you’ll want to put some thought into decorations. She wishes to transform her house into a location of her theme. Again using the example of the Egyptian festival, we created an archaeological site by cordoning off the courtyard and setting up tents. The tomb was the largest tent and inside was a cardboard sarcophagus, canopic jars, animal print blankets and whatever we thought looked like it had been in a tomb. Try to keep this in mind when shopping, don’t go for printed “themed” items. Ask yourself what people would have actually seen and used. For example, Indiana Jones would not use plates, glasses, and napkins with his face on them. Most likely, he uses some kind of metal set, bamboo plates, coconut shells, etc.


This is where my husband and I disagree. He thinks we should serve kid-friendly food no matter what the topic. We invite the entire family of each child who receives an invitation, so the meal is not just for the children, and I want it to be an educational experience as well. (I definitely plan on having enough food for the adults as well. I’ve been to parties before where the food is “just for the kids” and the adults leave hungry.) For the Egyptian feast we had kebabs, hummus, baklava and yogurt drinks. . I just looked up Egyptian recipes online and went with what sounded good. We made the cake to resemble the 3 pyramids on a cake board sprinkled with crushed graham crackers and added little figurines and trees. Make sure you have plenty to drink, especially if the weather is hot. Allow 3-4 servings of punch, water, soda per person. Be sure to prepare as much as you can ahead of time so you’re not in a rush on the day of the party.


Nothing sets the mood for a party like music. For the Egyptian party they gave us a cd of the music they played on the King Tut tour (from 30 years ago, not the current tour). It sounded old and mysterious and a little creepy. For the games, we liven things up with the theme of Indiana Jones and The Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian.” For the Indiana Jones party we had old jazz from the 1930s in the Obi Wan Club, and an Indiana Jones soundtrack in another area of ​​the house.


This may seem strange, but there are a variety of scented oils, candles, and incenses you can get that also enhance the atmosphere. Think how it would smell. Are you by the ocean, in the desert, in the forest? Make the smell of your house match. Remember that you want to indulge all 5 senses to evoke the feeling that they have traveled through time and ended up right on your subject.


Have you ever been to a party where there is absolutely nothing to do or maybe just a rented bouncy house? Kids get bored after a while or start to go crazy and get into trouble. I am right? Have you been there? You want to keep your structured party structured. In fact, I give a timeline of the event at the beginning so everyone knows what’s happening and when. I plan at least 3 games, and then also a craft or coloring activity. Some children will refuse to eat and need something to occupy themselves. For an Indiana Jones party we threw, we had the kids crack a code, choose the correct Holy Grail from several choices, find a diamond and a vial of antidote in an ice-filled pool, paint necklaces, play a game of stealing the grail, and walk on steps in the correct order to spell IEHOVAH. It is better to have too many activities than not enough.


You will probably want to invest in some special prizes for the winners of the games. Again, sometimes you can find really nice things at deep discounts.


Make them as unique as you can. For Indy we found mini wooden boxes on Craigslist. With a bit of stencilling, they resembled the box in which the ark of the covenant was placed. We put a museum tag, a mini sankara stone, a small Coronado cross, an antidote vial, a plastic diamond, a gold coin, a spider, a snake, a rat, an insect and an archeology club pin . We also gave each child a plastic cup (grail) to take home. Give one to each child. Adults do not need to receive one.


Yes, favors are different than goodie bags and you should have enough for all the guests. I usually make cookies and put them in those nice clear bags you can get at Michael’s. Again using the Indiana Jones theme, we bought a replica of a headdress for Ra’s staff on eBay. My husband wowed at sculpey (as did Toht with his hand). I used this to make springerle cookies and even melted crushed orange lollipop in the center to make it look like a jewel. After baking, I brushed them with edible gold petal dust and they looked pretty neat. Instead of using the silver ribbon that comes with the bags, we tied the museum tags to them with rough string.


Lastly, you’ll need some nice thank you cards to send out after the party. It’s good if you can find time to take photos of the party guests to include them. For a Pirates of the Caribbean theme, we took headshots of everyone as they walked in and didn’t tell them that there’s a special feature on the DVD that allows you to turn the images “cursed.” It was really creepy, but funny too. Our guests were surprised when they received them in the mail. You probably won’t need to have as many thank you cards as the invitations because not everyone was able to make it. You can spend a little more time making them personal, especially if you have scrap booking skills. Use stickers and cutouts and make it a bit three dimensional if you can.

That’s all! Phew! If you made it to the end of this, you’re probably already feeling exhausted, but take your time and focus on one thing and you’ll get there.

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