Let me start by saying that as most of you probably already know, in mommy world, kids’ birthdays are a pretty big deal.  On any given day of the year, if you check our chalkboard, somebody has a birthday (and a party) coming up in the not so distant future.  This is a good thing, it’s fun for the kids, it’s something the whole family can do together and we always have a good time.

As moms, we want to do something special for the birthday girl or boy, which usually includes a fun celebration with friends and family and of course yummy cake!  I have hosted four birthday parties for my children so far and I have to say that planning a child’s birthday party has its challenges and can be stressful.  While all of my parties should be considered a success (from what I hear), I have learned a few things along the way that I thought I would share and hopefully, somebody will have some suggestions for me as my oldest daughter’s third birthday is fast approaching (January) and Winter birthday parties can be more challenging. I have been to parties in January when the temperature was a balmy 60 degrees but unfortunately, you can’t plan on that.

We had our first birthday party at our house in January 2010.  Aside from inviting way too many people to fit comfortably under our roof and ordering way too much cake, the party went well, but I have vague memories of being a bit frazzled during the party.  My husband and I were flustered trying to make sure everyone found a seat and had somebody to talk to and there is no way I could have managed to pull it off without help from all of the wonderful ladies in my life.  Looking back, I was stressed but everyone else seemed to have a decent time.

We outsourced our second party and that was much easier.  With a toddler and a newborn, I wasn’t up for having a party at our house so we celebrated at the Little Gym in Avon and they did a nice job.  We went simple, buying a cake from Big Y (which had the wrong name!).  We brought the cake and supplies and the Little Gym staff pretty much took care of everything else.  The kids burned some energy and we had a few family members and close friends back to our house for pizza afterwards.  This party was easy but I like to be a little more creative when I feel up to it.

Most recently, we hosted two parties for my youngest daughter who just turned one!  We had a party for friends with kids at Flamig Farm, which was truly a great time.  We rented the party room, served popcorn and cake and had some good old-fashioned barnyard fun including a hayride!  I would highly recommend having a party at the farm.  We then had a  family party at our house the following week which went much smoother than our first house party because our house (and my husband and I) were able to handle the smaller crowd.  Having two parties did require additional planning but it was nice to separate the groups and it gave us more time to spend with everyone.  I splurged and ordered cupcakes from my dream cupcake  for the family party, which were cute and delicious but a bit on the pricy side.

In hindsight, I’ve learned that the first step to planning a successful birthday party is to set a budget or if you are like me, it can spiral out of control quite rapidly.  Between cake, decorations, favors, etc., it is not hard to go overboard.  Prioritize and  try to choose only what you need.  There are tons of ways to reduce costs.  For example, consider baking the cake yourself or at least price them out.  We bought a fabulous cake from Cakes Unlimited in Torrington for the farm party for a reasonable price.   If you are serving food, prepare some of the food yourself and don’t be afraid to ask close friends and relatives to make something.  Also, some of the cutest favors that I have seen have been handmade so  make your own favors if you can.  You could even ask a friend or two to help and make it a social event. 

In the end, it doesn’t much matter because although I will soon forget any stress that I felt while planning these parties and I will forget how much we spent, I will never forget how cute my kids looked!

Does anybody else get stressed out over birthdays? 

Any suggestions for my daughter’s third birthday party?  I would love some ideas.