02 Oct 2010

Three-Year-Old Birthday Party

No Comments Toddler

In the decade leading up to having my son, I went to plenty of kids’ parties that I felt were way too lavish for someone who’s still pooping in their pants.  So when it came time to throw our own parties, I’ve tried to keep things within my own budget… both mentally and fiscally.  Last week was Garrett’s third birthday party.  With that in mind, I’ve come up with a few suggestions for making children’s party planning as stress-free as possible, while still giving your child a day to remember.

PICK A THEME:  Whatever they love at the moment, go with it! Once you have a theme, it’s easy to build around. Originally our theme was Iron Man, but I found there was not a whole lot of Iron Man-themed stuff readily available, so I coaxed and prodded until Garrett agreed that a dinosaur party was the way to go.  He freaking loves those extinct giants! Then you can go to a site like celebrateexpress.com. We were able to get the plates, cups, silverware, napkins, balloons, streamers, party favors all at one place.  It was affordable and everything had a dinosaur on it!

MAKE THE ADULTS FEEL SPECIAL: Order food for the adults, and make something to eat for the kids. We order sandwiches, empanadas, and a big salad from a local place called Portos.  If you’re local to Los Angeles, you have to try it. It’s amazing, and they also make the cake!! If you can consolidate your errands that day by getting a bunch of stuff at one place, do it!  Then, I made a giant mac and cheese for the kids. Here’s the recipe I use, and I double it.  (Yes, I realize it’s Rachael Ray.) Since it’s for kids, skip the cayenne and add dry mustard and some season salt.  I also use a cheddar and jack combo, because it’s tasty.  And on top? I put little fried onions!!!  It’s risky… But it’s delicious.  One more tip?  Serve some beer and wine.  If the adults are happy, the kids will stay longer which means YOUR kid will have a blast.

CHEAP THRILLS: I’m obsessed with Target’s dollar aisle. It’s amazing what you’ll find here to help you be creative. I got packs of dinosaur cards for a buck each, and added them to the gift bags. I also bought a bunch of 99 cent spray bottles, because I knew the party would fall on a hot day. After dinner, we filled them with water, passed them out to the kids and BAM, a game was born.

GET A BOUNCY: I ordered mine from Party On Rentals. For about $80 to $100, a bouncy keeps young tykes entertained for hours. Usually, they pick it up the same night, but I always find that a little sad.  So I pay about $40 more to keep it overnight, and we get a personal bouncy party the morning after.  Save money somewhere else and do it!  The expression on their face as they bounce while you drink your coffee is priceless.

USE PAPER WHEN IT COUNTS: Send an evite instead of a paper invitation. It saves paper and stamps, plus you get immediate responses direct to your email. But DO SEND ACTUAL THANK YOU CARDS through the mail. I believe in this custom. A real, live thank-you card is so much more personal than an emailed one. You can be less personal with your invitations, but really take the time to thank your guests. Oh, and do it the night of or the day after the party. It feels so good to get done, and they’ll be much more heartfelt if you write them while you’re still in the afterglow of the festivities. This will be a great tradition to pass on when your three-year-old is a six-year-old!

If you have any tips of your own, I’d love to hear them!

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Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!
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