Yup, I am one of those moms. I have an obsessive need to throw a swanky birthday party for my kiddos, yes even their first birthdays. I have only 3 birthday parties under my belt, but I think this latest one, Holly's 3rd Birthday, was a big hit!
The trick to throwing a great party is planning ahead! Usually this is NOT a skill I have, but when it's party time, I plan for months! Pinterest boards for days I tell you! When I plan a party, I focus on 4 categories; decor, food (the cake, a drink & snacks), activities, & party favours. In this post I will break down Holly's 3rd Birthday party & what I planned for it. I always try to include local & handmade businesses in my party planning where possible, & I'll share them with you in this post too.
Before you can start anything, you have to decide a theme. This was the first year Holly was old enough to have a part in choosing, which made it extra fun! She loves the Toy Story movies, especially Jessie the Cowgirl, so Toy Story was our theme!
1.) Decor: Once you have a theme, start pinning decor ideas to get your vibe going! For me, balloons are essential. I am lucky to have a local company called Glitter & Glue Party Boxes that does the best balloon arches & garlands ever.
They even come & set up the balloons for you so you don't have to worry about that part. Next, you obviously need a name banner (or 2...).
I had one for over our snack & cake table made by Mama's Got a Glue Gun that was so spot on for our theme. But I also had a Happy Birthday banner for where the kids would be hanging out during the party. This one was made by Glitter Paper Scissors who I have used many times for many different signs, cake toppers & banners. Speaking of cake toppers, this year I almost forgot! Luckily, a local maker whipped one up for me in less than 24 hours! I found Scintilla Co. through a local handmade Facebook page & she made me the perfect topper to pick up THAT DAY , after she worked no less!
Apart from a few balloon bunches I put up myself, that is all I had for decor, & that was perfect.
2.) Food: I like to keep the snacks & cake coordinating with the theme & then it sort of works as decor on its own too.
The cake is always my table centre piece. OK, yes, this is an area I sort of cheat in because that's my jam, but the cake doesn't have to be fancy to work as a centre piece. This is where Holly helped again too. I spent time with her going through Pinterest looking at Toy Story themed cakes until she found one she wanted (keeping in mind she is only 3...I didn't ask her until the week of the party, haha) & we settled on a Jessie-inspired cake. As for the snacks, I have learned over the years that make-ahead items or little-to-no prep items are necessary or I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off the day of ( full confession, I still was a bit this year, but still better than the year before). Chips. Who doesn't like chips? There are so many different kinds it's pretty easy to work it into your theme & they are zero prep. Something sweet to snack on that's not cake, I actually ordered a dozen beautiful decorated sugar cookies to amp up the theme from Ella's Cookie Jar, & then just one healthy thing like fruit or veggies to pretend you aren't a terrible parent & to appease the anti-sugar parents...which I am not.
Here's my full menu:
3.) Activities: It goes without saying that you have to plan something for the kids to do at the party. Of course I give them lots of free play time, but free play leads to crazy, wild children, so I like to start with some form of activity before the chaos.
I was fortunate enough to win a draw for a character visit from a local company called Heather's Pretty Parties. This company is the best! You can hire characters to come to events & entertain & there are so many options available.
For our party, we had a 1 hour visit from 2 characters, Jessie the Cowgirl (of course),
& Bo Peep. They read to the kids, taught them a dance, played some games, sang with them, & they did a craft with the kids! We also had a party assistant add on that came & did face paint on all of the kids. It was so much fun to be able to just chat with the other parents & watch the kids have fun rather than be busy the whole party.
After the characters left, we served the cake & set the kiddos free outside to play in the water (by some miracle it was warm enough for water play in September).
4.) Party Favours: Yes, I know these aren't for everyone, but if you like to give a little thank you, this is a good way to do it. I put together a list in a previous blog post of Party Favours That Don't Suck, & you can find that here. Basically. just don't be the parents that sends home fall apart, loud &/or sticky toys & you are gold!
That's all you need to do to throw an awesome party!
PS - Don't worry about having a long party. Having to plan hours & hours of fun for the kids is unnecessary, a few hours is more than enough, especially for smaller kids like Holly. Our party was from 1pm - 4pm (after lunch & before supper) so you only have to serve snacks, no real food ;)