Children's birthday parties are supposed to ignite visions of laughter and fun with friends and family. When I was a kid, this meant I got to take a few friends to McDonalds or our local five pin bowling alley or on a scavenger hunt in my backyard (we hunted for loonies and got to spend them on treats at our neighbourhood corner store). I got to choose my favourite food for dinner and cap off the night with cake and a few modest presents. I would go to sleep feeling happy and loved, which is exactly how I want my own kids to feel on their birthday.
It would seem things have changed in recent years though. Now, as a parent myself, I've been a witness to how complicated the world of children's birthday parties has become. No birthday party is complete without a themed, over-the-top party with formal invites mandating matching outfits for everyone in attendance, an elaborate cake, and expensive activities (can someone explain to me why a three year old needs a bouncy castle, a themed craft station, an actor dressed as a princess singing Disney songs and a carnival style cotton candy machine all at the same party?).
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with all of these things, unless, of course, you're only doing them because you feel pressure to throw the perfect party. Keeping up with the Jones' is a real thing, you guys. And sometimes in the world of Pinterest and Instagram and Amazon Prime it is easy to get swept up in the glamour of it all and forget what is really important.
That said, the team at Great Pretenders has come up with a list of our favourite practical party planning tips that will save you time, keep you on-budget and allow you to focus your energy on your little one (it IS their day, after all!).
1. Use a Store-Bought Cake (or treat)
Buy a grocery store cake. Seriously. My local grocery store sells these really yummy three tier white cakes with buttercream frosting. They’re simple, which makes them the perfect blank slate to add a bit of flare. Buy some fancy candles (like these adorable Great Pretenders candles), add some sprinkles and place it on a pretty cake stand. Voila! As an alternative, we love the idea of having candles in individual treats like cupcakes or colourful macaron! No need to bust out the cutting knife so there is way less mess!
2. Don’t Over-Plan
One or two activities is more than enough, especially with young children. A simple craft, dress up time, an age-appropriate scavenger hunt around your pack yard or a simple, inclusive game is more than enough. Kids can be so unpredictable and often have their own agenda, so by keeping your timeline free you allow children the freedom to just be kids!
3. Keep it Simple
Pinterest and Instagram can be the most wonderful asset when party planning, offering so much inspiration at the click of a button. But, it can also make make it easy to get overwhelmed or confused. If you want to have a theme, choose one that can be easily replicated with readily available store-bought items or things you can repurpose from your home.
Better yet, pick all of your party decor needs up in one place... like the Great Pretenders party shop! We have a fun selection of Superhero and Unicorn themed party decor items that your little one will love!
4. Choose an Easy Activity That Serves Double Duty as a Party Favour!
If you're going to be inviting your little one's friends to the party, it is a good idea to have a few simple activities planned in advance. A bin of dress up clothes can keep kids entertained for a good chunk of time. You can throw in some Great Pretenders reversible Superhero masks (Under $3) or Fairy Princess Wands (Under $5) as a party favour they can use during the party!
Another activity we love that can double as a party favour is the masks or puppets from our Colour-Me Collection! Children can take time to colour their own superhero mask, butterfly mask or pretend-play puppet, and then play with them afterwards!
That's it! The most important thing is to remember that this is a day to celebrate your child. Be present for them. Spend time focusing on their excitement and the things that they want to do. Reminisce about the year that has passed and take a bunch of cheesy photos of the memories you're creating together.
We'd love to hear your favourite party-planning tips or hacks! Leave your go-to advice in the comments below!