By Krista Ehret
We just celebrated my daughter's second birthday and it's definitely true how quickly they grow up. It's also crazy how quickly these parties seem to roll around each year. While planning her first birthday party was a very memorable and fun milestone, the second one was definitely toned down a bit. Hello bakery cupcakes versus made from scratch everything! Eyeballing you, grocery store chicken tenders versus my husband sweating over a grill for two hours. Whether you identify more with Martha Stewart or Amelia Bedelia, here are some ideas and themes that will help you get a head start for your kiddo's next birthday.
One and Two: Let's face it, the first two parties are basically for the parents, especially the first one. It's a blast to plan from start to finish and most of us have a Pinterest board designated specifically to this event. Guess what? That's ok! Enjoy your freedom while it's available. Once the little ones have big opinions, your preference of floral centerpieces and elaborate balloon displays are null and void. So, pick a theme or an elegant color palette and run with it. Common themes feature word play on “one” and “two.” Cute examples are “She's One-derful,” “Some Bunny is Turning One” “Time Two Party,” and “Oh Twodooles” (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed). You could also draw inspiration from their favorite book or song. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Peter Rabbit, Cat and the Hat, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Baby Shark all have lots of cute décor options.
Three to Six: This is arguably the most marketed-to demographic when it comes to party themes. Get ready for everything from the cake to the table cloth to be decked out in their favorite movie or TV show characters. If you're one of the lucky ones and your kiddo isn't demanding that Paw-Patrol party pack, there are lots of fun options for this age range. Tea parties, camping themed, carnival, all things sports and water parties are a few great options. You definitely need something to keep them entertained: jump houses, mobile petting zoos, slip and slides, etc. If a yard full of sugared-up kids isn't your idea of a good time, book an event space or party location. At many places, you show up with the guests, the gifts and the cake and the rest is all taken care of in-house. The cost is often worth the convenience.
Seven and Up: I feel that this is the age where parties start to favor quality over quantity. Unless it's a biggie like a sweet sixteen, offer options to the birthday boy/girl. Would you rather have a really nice gift, or a party? Would you rather take two friends to a movie and dinner, or have four friends spend the night? Activities with friends will often be preferred in lieu of a big party. Going to an amusement park, some cash to shop at the mall and have lunch with friends or taking one friend on a family vacation may appeal to your tween. Giving them an option lets them feel in control and, with parameters provided by you, will hopefully keep everyone happy. If the party must go on, ideas like pool parties, luaus, movie nights, sleepovers or game nights will be crowd pleasers.
At any age, it's fun to be celebrated once a year. Keep the stress levels low and the excitement high by compromising with the guest of honor to achieve an event that everyone will enjoy.