I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I started planning my daughter’s 6-year-old birthday party at least three months in advance.
She wanted a gymnastics party, so I made the required trip to the local gymnastics center to reserve the spot and date. Then I spent at least an hour searching online invitation sites until I found the perfect gymnastics-themed online invitation (Paperless Post’s Gymnastic Rings – Blossom design – see the invite look in the image below). I waited as long as I could before hitting the send button, and sent the invitation out about eight weeks in advance.
Later that same day, my daughter broke her arm doing a cartwheel. The gymnastics party was off, and we had to secure a doctor’s note to get a refund from the local park district.
The good news: We were able to get our money back. And the nice folks at Paperless Post customer service (who I reached out to) helped me change the invitation design for free to one more fitting for the new party theme and venue: an injury-friendly dance party at our home. (See the final invite look in the image below).
But above all, this whole experience taught me a good birthday party-planning lesson that is one of the three tips making up today’s hint.
Tip #1: Don’t plan too far ahead. Arm breaking is a fluke occurrence that could happen anytime, even on the day before a planned gymnastics party. Yet kids’ tastes can be fickle, so even if my daughter hadn’t broken her arm, who knows if she would have wanted a gymnastics party – or even liked gymnastics – a month or so out from her birthday. The same thing can be said of themes too; I often hear parent hosts complaining about how their kids tried to change planned party themes numerous times (say, Shopkins in the place of My Little Pony).
The takeaway: Before you spend time and money months in advance to reserve that perfect venue, design the ideal invitation or find themed-party supplies, hold off a bit, so you’re not shelling out for a party your child won’t appreciate.
So what’s a good planning timeline? Martha Stewart’s site recommends planning kids’ birthday parties six weeks in advance and sending the invites three weeks before the event date. (I’m a big fan of using online invitation services for my children’s birthday parties. I like how they collect the RSVPs for me in one place, and enable me to easily message guests). Other sites like Better Homes & Gardens recommend similar planning schedules.
Tip #2: Go for party supplies that last for more than one party. Instead of buying supplies that all fit a party’s theme, consider single-color supplies you can use down the road at other parties you host. Single-color options for everything from plates and napkins to utensils to goody bags are often less expensive than their themed counterparts.
Tip #3: Consider a joint birthday party. My kids have gone to a number of parties recently celebrating the birthday of more than one child. In most cases, the children were unrelated, but were in the same class at school, had many of the same friends and had birthdays close together. The two sets of parents figured that instead of having two separate events days or weeks apart, they’d do the party together and save planning time and money by dividing and conquering tasks and splitting costs.
In other cases, the joint parties were for siblings whose birthdays fell close enough together for parents to save money by throwing one party instead of two. In all cases, each child did get his or her own cake or cupcake with candles to blow out. They also each got their own gifts (Even if my child doesn’t know all the guests of honor, I always bring a gift for each birthday boy or girl. In other words, I err on the side of over gifting).
Do you agree with these tips? Why or why not? What birthday party planning tips would you add to this list?
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Paperless Post. While I was compensated to write a post about Paperless Post, all opinions are my own.