17 October, 2011

Guest Post: Tips for a Successful Kids' Party


I have a super special treat for you today, y'all.  Lauren Bonk, (yes, that Lauren Bonk) is on hand to give us a little heads up on planning a stress-free kids' party. 

As we do more and more of them, I have become more acutely aware of how much I don't know about kids (You mean, they can't have mimosas?!  Like, ever?!).  I kid, I kid...sort of (seriously, no mimosas?!)

And, because I totally sure I'm not the only fab, pre-baby gal out there with the questions, I thought we all might benefit from the knowledge of one of Goldiluxe's most favorite Mamas. 

Take it away, Lauren!

Oh, and P.S., would you look at that face?!  Crazy lovely, right?!  Well, if you like what you see here, I suggest you get your fab little behinds over to her equally lovely blog.  It's pretty great, y'all.

I'll be honest, the words 'kids' and 'parties,' when spoken in the same sentence, almost immediately give me a migraine.

My son, Charlie, is getting bigger, though, and that means it's going to be harder for me to be such a mommy-hermit. He's going to start caring if other people celebrate his birthday or not, and he's going to start caring if he gets invited by someone else.

Kids need to interact with each other...who'd have thought?

So this is where I admit that I haven't actually had to tow Charlie to another child's birthday party yet...and at first, I thought that may pose a problem when Erin asked me to write about parties involving gaggles of ankle-biters. (These, of course, are my words...not Erin's :)

Now, I may not be a kid-party expert, but I'd like to say that I'm becoming quite experienced in the actual having-a-kid department...and I've learned a few social cues from Charlie that I plan to use when planning future birthday parties.

A toy is usually boring until someone else wants it.

Here's my main suggestion: If you're going to present toys to play with, make sure they're plentiful and alike. Let me use the example of sand-toys here. When I bring buckets and shovels to the park, Charlie could not care less about them until some other kids start playing with them. He then uses his super-speedy-toy-swiping skills to steal his favorite bucket right from the cute little hands of an 11 month old with a planet-sized flower balancing on her headband.

She cries. Charlie looks triumphant. I give him a time out.

All of this could have been avoided if I had brought 4 identical buckets. The same applies for your party. Have a few choices of toys and games, but make sure there are plenty of identical toys for everyone to play with.

Plan for contained chaos.

This is a gathering made up of children. They are bursting with energy and at the mercy of their emotions. This party will not be perfect. It will, however, help to find an area that has plenty of room, but also comes with effective methods of containment.

If you're going to the trouble to put together a kid-friendly party, chances are you'll go the extra mile to find an appropriate space.

A big, empty room (like a rented library room, church fellowship hall, or big basement) that you can fill with toys, tables, and games will be perfect. Kids like to run around and chase each other...parents are usually cool with watching them. Make sure you can close a door or put up a gate so that moms and dads can easily keep eyes on their kids.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret:

Big, safe room + toys + kids = Glorious sit-and-chat-and-watch time for parents.

Plan for crazy hippies.

I'm not trying to be offensive here...I'm the crazy hippie you've got to watch out for. We chose not to give Charlie any processed sugar for a really long time. We still don't give him a whole lot. For his 1st birthday, we found a great recipe for a naturally sweetened carrot cake. It was pretty tasty, even for everyone else.

The result of this is that Charlie would much prefer a bowl of yogurt and cheerios over (are you ready for this?) a Krispy Kreme donut. For real. He took one bite of a heavenly sugar ring a couple days ago and immediately lost interest.

This last Easter, my wonderful sister-in-law brought graham cracker bunnies and natural fruit roll-ups to put in the plastic eggs that Charlie found. I was so grateful that Charlie was able to sit and eat his spoils with the rest of his cousins...I totally owe her one.

What I'm trying to say is that people will appreciate it if you provide a few different snack options. Apple slices and flavored yogurt as well as big, fabulous slices of cake will help to keep everyone happy.

That's not so much a social cue as a parental preference...but hey, I think it's important.

I know these tips won't solve all your child-party problems, but hopefully they'll solve enough to provide a fairly stress-free experience.

What about you guys? Do you have any great kid-party tips?

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