Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Do's and Don'ts of Birthdays and Parties

My oldest son just turned 7 and since we are watching every cent going out I tried to be as creative as possible when coming up with the birthday of a life time (until next year). 

Do: Make Them Feel Important Without Spending Money
Waffles with chocolate syrup for breakfast are ok on a special day like this! (I love using a pizza cutter to slice waffles and pancakes for the little guys, especially Lincoln who is still learning to feed himself with a fork)

Measuring on the wall of fame, we only write on it once a year now to make it exciting. Dylan grew about 3.25 inches in one year!

This momma gets tired quicker than ever being 30+ weeks pregnant and chasing after a rowdy toddler so I didn't do the fanciest cakes (remember the volcano cake from birthday 4 or the mint chocolate chip cupcakes from last year) but I did find some cute stickers that have been in the house for years, put a matching one on both sides of a flat tooth pick and voila, cupcakes to compete with the best of them. Plus there were extras so he gave one to his teacher, one to his teacher from last year, and even the principal. Brownie points for this mom.

 In our town you can get anyone's birthday printed in the free newspaper by submitting a two line email, you just have to remember to do it in time. Dylan couldn't believe he got to see his name in print and thought it was pretty rockin'.

Do: Find Gifts That Will Be Loved and Not Thrown Away
When you do spend your money on something, whether it be a gift or party decor, make sure that it is something that will be loved and not thrown out in a few days or hours. I found the DVD Real Steel on sale at Fred Meyer the other day and since he wanted that to be the theme of his party I knew he would keep that one on his playlist for a while. So far he has watched it 5 times I believe. Other gifts from us he loved and will continue to use or play with are football pants (he likes to dress up like a professional player), man type shampoo/body wash (I think it makes him feel more grown up), a ball catching game I got on sale at Good Will and an Under Armor shirt. That one killed me because I couldn't find it on sale anywhere but I got free shipping and he really wanted it so I think it was worth it.

Do: Plan Ahead for a Party
If you are having the party in your home you have time to plan everything out you want it and can control the environment a little more. It would have been easier to rent out Bounce Central but this year it wasn't in the cards. I made several lists in order to get everything done, a shopping list, a cleaning list, a to do list and a list of treasure hunt clues. Planning ahead also insures that at least one or two kids will come that didn't rsvp and you will be prepared.

Do: Shop Your Closets and The Dollar Store (here it is the Dollar Tree)
I reused decorator tips to frost the cupcakes, I made the cake and cup cakes from scratch, I used paper plates and painter's tape to make the name banner, you get where I'm going with this. Why buy new when you have so much stuff already sitting there. I spent less than $10 for the plates, disposable silverware, decorations, table cloth and balloons. It took a lot of effort on my part but I think it came out great. (No, I did not get pictures of me being hugely pregnant trying to climb all over the table or when I blew up 25 balloons and almost peed my pants)

Entryway, ribbon from old package

Do: Make a Simple Sheet Cake,
For his party I knew the kids would be eating dinner here and probably snacking too so they really wouldn't eat much cake. I threw together a simple sheet cake, printed up an image from Real Steel, messed around with some icing and again voila. I thought it looked cheapy but Dylan thought it was great, and we had half of the cake left for the next day.

And now for the Don'ts
DON'T: Throw a giant birthday party in your home when you are 7+ months pregnant, sleeping poorly and fighting off a cold. It will be a lot harder than you think.
DON'T: Have the party on a Friday night. The kids will be tired from school yet hyped up from the excitement. Dylan's bed time on a normal school night is 7pm and planning on keeping the boys there until 7:30 meant most of them got tired quickly but still wanted to party.
DON'T: Invite every boy from his class plus another one from another class. You don't know how many will actually come this year just because last year's party was pretty small. Pick several that you know and stick with that. If it is kept quiet feelings will not be hurt. 9 hyper boys leads us to the next don't
DON'T: Expect 6 and 7 year-olds (and one 5 year old) to be able to entertain themselves. There will be injuries, there will be tears, there will be spilled caffeine-free pop on your rug. Make sure they have structured games and activities planned, maybe even write a time line of your ideas. These boys were happiest when doing the treasure hunt, picking out their candy one by one in a circle, playing doggie doggie where's your bone or sitting at the table. When I let them play out back or have free reign of the play room that's when things got out of hand.

 DON'T: Don't forget to take quality pictures. I like the group action shots but in my head I was going to take a picture of Dylan with each boy to send with the thank-yous. Didn't happen between trying to keep peace without going crazy.
 DON'T: Just don't. Don't have balloons at your party unless you don't mind constant hitting, hair rubbing, kicking and other silly boy games. It's just asking for it.
DON'T: Add extra volume to an already loud party. I thought the karaoke machine would be fun. It was fun... for a minute. They got a kick out of hearing themselves but it added a whole different level of noise to an already noisy party.
DON'T: Don't forget what age group you are having over. These kids are in first grade and although Dylan practically seems like a little man to me, some of these kids haven't been to many parties and without the rules of school or without their parents around they are still young and need guidance.
If you look real close you can see Lincoln sitting in front of the wood stove, he had a blast at the party!

 DON'T: Don't be hard on yourself. After the party and the tears and the cleaning and everything I felt like maybe I failed. I shouldn't have even tried. Shane said we aren't throwing another party in our house again (although he does still have two more boys growing up to have parties so yeah right!). Even the little boy who stayed for a sleep over decided to get picked up at 10pm. Total flop, or so I thought. The next day Dylan told me it was his best birthday party ever and after school yesterday he said the boys were still talking about it. In his mind it was amazing and I guess that's what matters. Can you see the smile on his face in the picture below?
Before the slumber party came to an early end.


  1. You......are an awesome mommy. Thanks for the great blog post. I almost felt like I was there in person.


    (sorry, I can't log in to my Google account here at work.)

  2. Great job Shannon. You are a very special person, I hope you know that!!

  3. You did a great job Shani! I'm proud of your creativity and stamina. You made Dylan happy so it was a great success:)Love you Momma

  4. Good tips! Kids don't need a lot of expensive stuff to feel special, do they?

    I have 5 kids, and we haven't done a birthday party yet, other than a family one. I remember sharing birthday parties with my sister, however, we were girls, not bouncy rambunctious boys.