Parents whose social schedules are stacked with weekend birthday parties know that these can be total snooze-fests saturated with small talk or surprisingly fun opportunities to relax while the kids have a ball and wear themselves out before bedtime.
Obviously, if you’re the one planning and hosting a party, you’d prefer the latter, so read on for some tips about how you can slam dunk your child’s next birthday bash!
- This party is really for grown-ups; one-year-olds barely register each other.
- With this in mind, be sure to prep an adult drinks and food spread. Wine, sparkling water, cheese, crackers, charcuterie, and fresh fruit are all good options.
- Avoid planning the party at typical one-year-old nap-times: 10 AM and 1 PM.
- Best presents for this age: a large rubber ball; wooden stacking or nesting toys; bath toys; an adorable new outfit or two.
5th or 6th birthday
- Plan for parents to stay with their kids at the party.
- Serve a wide array of food and drink: goldfish crackers, string cheese, juice, and strawberries for the kids, as well as crudités, avocado and cucumber rolls, and iced tea for the adults.
- Host a scavenger hunt with photo clues in envelopes.
- Best presents for this age: Caldecott-award-winning picture books; art supplies; stomp rockets; a fun backpack or purse.
8th or 9th birthday
- Expect that parents will drop kids off.
- Keep the party on the smaller side with 12 or fewer kids.
- Host a structured game that’s fun but doesn’t require a ton of athletic ability, like capture the flag or a three-legged race.
- Offer an art project for down-time or for kids who are more introverted. Stringing beads onto rubber cord necklaces, making bookmarks or terrariums, and decorating cookies are all good options.
- Serve pizza and cupcakes or donuts.
- Best presents for this age: graphic novels; a blank journal/sketchbook; an unusual board game; a cool baseball cap or watch.
DIY parties are appealing in their quirkiness—there’s no need to splurge on expensive performers or fancy venues. A backyard or local park works just as well, with no wear and tear on your home turf. Don’t worry: You’ve got this!