How to Host Happy House Birthday Parties for Littles

Birthdays are a big deal for our kids. If we successfully host a fun party for our kids, they obsessively talk about it for a year. Childhood memories, check. Here is how we do it:

Pick a theme, sooner than you think you would need to.

It is enjoyable to look at Etsy or Pinterest for birthday party ideas- if you have time to kill. It is not as much fun if you are on a deadline. When the babies are babies, you get complete command. You lose a little more creative control as they get older. Once your baby ages past four years old, you are at the mercy of the imagination of a neon-loving, glitter-obsessed kid who analyzes toy infomercials- the aesthetic control has vanished. I like to brainstorm my girls’ themes with them, and then narrow them down to two or three that I can work with. (Helpful hint: Do a search on Amazon for the theme… within two minutes, it will become clear if the theme is easily doable or not.)

Pick a date.

Save the date texts should be sent to the BFFs. Parties are more fun when the VIPs are in attendance!

Once the theme is determined, get to online shopping.

Amazon prime is great because the delivery is so quick. Etsy may take a little longer. Party packs of coordinating decor vary in price, so “heart” what you like before you commit to purchasing. Invest in a birthday sign or two. They can always be reused for future parties if you pick generic enough ones. If you craft on Mondays (or other days of the week), get busy. There is no limit to cute decor that you can contribute. Also, get the piñata (another helpful hint: in-store piñatas are cheaper and bigger than the ones sold online, in my experience.)

Pick out an invite.

I am a fan of printed invites, but I see the appeal of a pdf that can be printed or texted. Now that my five-year-old has classmates to invite, it is easier to administer the invitations via text. Etsy is a great place to look to for printable/ editable invites. Write out an invite list or dig up last year. Edit/ add as needed, depending on new friends, notorious no-shows, and ever-changing Covid numbers.

Select your entertainment factor.

Be it a bounce house, petting zoo, princess visit, train moment, balloon mastery, face painting- figure out what would best compliment your party and get to googling. These vendors book up, so you want to research options in advance.

Decide on a menu.

Ordering pizza? Cooking jambalaya? Ambitious and boiling crawfish? Make the decision so you know what to put on your grocery list. Should you make the cake or order it? Delegate side dishes that willing family members can make.

Order the birthday kid a birthday outfit.

Birthday cake smocks are always cute or search for an on-theme ensemble. Order in advance so the delivery is not a nail-biter.

The week of, do any prep work that you can.

Pick up the yard, make the treat bags, and start to tackle that balloon arch (skip the drama, and order the balloon pump.) Hang up some birthday signs, or anything else the kids will be unable to tear down. Make the cookies. The less you must do on the day of, the better.

Get your kids excited!!

House parties are a ton of work, but their enthusiasm can be quite the motivator. If there are any toddlers around, talk to them about it the most.

Day of, game on.

Cut up the fruit, fill up the ice chests with drinks, and hang up the balloon arch. Set up a ball pit for anyone with babies. Pick up your house to the best of your ability and hope no one goes into your daughter’s bedroom. Plug in an air freshener in the guest bathroom and restock the toilet paper. Assign a reliable family member (not your four-year-old) to remind you to serve the ice cream (Five years of house birthday parties, we have yet to remember to actually serve the single-serving ice cream cups.) Get the Bluetooth speaker going (low to medium volume). Start eating the queso.

Take pictures before people get there.

Hopefully, your party is a real-life good time, and you are too busy to take pictures during the event. So just pose your kids underneath the balloon arch before the mayhem commences.

Welcome your guests and hang out with the fun ones.

Hooray for your child getting a year older and cheers to you surviving/ thriving another year as a parent. Celebrate it!!

An hour in, do the cake— free the randoms who prefer to leave early.

Assign someone (or yourself) to cut the cake and pass out slices. Remember the ice cream! Then, open the presents. If you are fully committed, make a list, so you can send thank you cards. (I have personally relieved myself from that chore for the foreseeable future. #boundaries). Then, do the piñata. Try to not have children injured in the process. Make sure someone oversees the videography of the chaos.

Give out treat bags to departing guests.

Offer leftovers, should there be any. Profusely thank family and friends for coming and for their gifts.

Relax/ bask- it’s over.

Clean up as you can, it will probably take a few days to completely get your house back to normal. Grill your kids for their favorite memories. Cheers to yourself for giving your kids another great birthday.

If the party is a bust (hurricane-like weather, poor attendance, piñata injury, hateful house guests), take one posed picture with the birthday guest of honor with Etsy birthday fodder. At least you can document that you tried in their baby book and/or Instagram. Birthday parties, regardless of how they play out in real life, are proof that you do love your kids extra, on special days. Right?

Long list? I know. Aim to do half, and who cares if it is not perfect? It is ultimately about the kids and your effort does not go unnoticed… assuming that the effort is in the form of kid decor and/ or balloons.

If you decide to commit to house parties, here are some things to invest in:

Otherwise- just borrow the above list and pick a less work-intensive birthday venue next year.

Happy Birthday, Littles!!

Melissa Fleming lives in Prairieville, Louisiana with her husband, Blake, and their three beautiful daughters: Evelyn (4), Clara (2), and Chloe (1). She graduated from LA Tech with a B.A. in journalism and then earned her M.Ed. and Ph.D. in counselor education from UNO. She is the owner of MWF Counseling, LLC. In between seeing clients, chasing toddlers, and holding babies, she enjoys watching Real Housewives and drinking as much caffeinated tea as possible.

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