birthday

Party Ideas for a Toddler’s Birthday

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I often receive phone calls from parents of young toddlers wanting to book a character for their child’s 2nd or 3rd birthday. When hiring a character, that can be a bit tricky due to the young age group involved. This is why Jennifer and I introduced our Magical Music Tour a couple of years ago. Children love music, so we designed our program with our performer singing and leading the children in music and movement. Even if children are too young to follow the simple directions on their own, parents are always on hand to help and encourage them. We have chosen to sing popular favorites and old nursery rhymes such as Old MacDonald, I’m a Little Tea pot, The Itsy Bitsy Spider to name just a few.

As parents, you have many different options though for this age.  Below is a list of frequently asked questions.

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Where’s the best place to have a toddler’s birthday?

This really comes down to preference.  If you have the space, your house or a park is generally an easy place to have your child’s party for this age group. You can either hire a character company to come in and help or hire a local petting zoo to come over as children love animals. Parks are so convenient because of the play structures; cleanup is minimal and permits are quite inexpensive.

If your home or local park is not an option, there are many alternatives for you such as children’s museums, zoos, recreation centers, gymnastics schools, etc.  When my kids were little, one of the places I enjoyed most in having a party was a children’s museum. A discovery museum or indoor playground is the ideal spot that offers young crawlers, early walkers and toddlers a multi sensory experience as they explore different things. They are packed with tactile activities to engage their minds.

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Children’s Museums:

Below is a list of some of the children’s museums in the Northern California

Bay Area Discovery Museum
557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 339-3900

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 298-5437

Exploratorium
180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 298-5437

Sacramento Children’s Museum
2701 Prospect Park
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
916-638-7225

 

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Zoos:

Babies and toddlers are drawn to animals!  Researcher say that as young babies begin looking around their world, they are automatically attracted to things that move, are brightly colored, and are easy to see. They are fascinated by things that make interesting noises, are capable of interacting with them and are unpredictable in what they do and how they behave.

 

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What’s the best time to have a toddler’s birthday?

Most children at this age still take an afternoon nap, so take that into consideration when scheduling your party.  Children this age can go from excitement to anger in a matter of seconds. Therefore, you want children celebrating while they’re at their best, so you probably want to pick a morning or late afternoon, and keep it short and sweet — an hour or two is the most time that I would recommend.

Do I serve food at a toddler’s party?

For such a young age group, I don’t personally believe in serving food because children at that age are all eating differently. I personally believe in keeping it simple. You can serve healthy snacks though such as bite-sized fruit or muffins.

Do I hire a Mascot character?:

We don’t deal with mascot characters, but I do get a ton of requests for Elmo.  You know your child best.  In my opinion, toddlers tend to be easily spooked by costumed characters.

 

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Alternate entertainment?  

Unless there are older children at the party that you want to entertain, do not bother to higher a face painter or balloon twister.  Balloons present a choking hazard to small children and the popping noise startles them.  Children do love bubbles though!

By |September 20th, 2014|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips|0 Comments

Hosting a Faerie Party (ages 6-8)

 

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Do you believe in faeries?  My children and I certainly do!  With Halloween quickly approaching, my youngest daughter and best friend have already decided they plan on being faeries this year.   When both of my girls were younger, they opted for a faerie theme birthday when they were about 6 years old. There is nothing more magical than hosting a faerie party.  This theme is so easy that one can go crazy decorating and planning.

Getting Started:

Since faeries are found in nature, the best place to host this theme is outdoors if possible.  You want to try to find the prettiest spot in the garden or park area.  Faeries also love all things beautiful, so think pretty, dainty and magical.

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Decor:

You can use almost anything for this theme, but you have to decide if you want to go in a more childlike or adult direction.  When decorating for this theme, I prefer to use plenty of fresh flowers to decorate with, but you’ll probably also add in faux and paper.   Tulle and ribbon is also a must.

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Tables:

Use whatever you have for this theme. Tables can be round or rectangular.  I prefer decorating tables in soft colors of purples and greens that drape all the way down to the floor.  Fabrics that have a matte sheen to them are really pretty.  You can also use lace trimmed linen if that is the look you prefer.  Always use fresh flowers on the table and you can decorate chairs using tulle, ribbon and flowers.  You can use either your own tea cups on the table or purchase pretty decorative paper ware.

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Storytime Corner:

Since there is so much history to share about faeries, I always recommend bringing in a faerie character to story tell.  If you decide not to do that, make a story time corner where the children can look and read some faerie books. It’s also fun to include some faerie props if you like.  Ex.  A mason jar with glowing faeries, a faerie door or wand. You can hang a tulle canopy from a tree with some blankets books and pillows on the floor.

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Craft Ideas:

You can do anything from potting fresh flowers in a small pail (Target, Michaels), to making faerie wands, or head garlands to decorating faerie houses.

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Activities/Games:  

If you decide to forgo hiring a themed character, you can provide some simple activities such as whimsical face painting, a faerie hunt, and faerie games for the children to do.

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Lunch/Snacks:

It’s always nice serving lunch with this theme and fun snacks.  Simple tea sandwiches work best with fresh fruit,  vegetables and dips. You can also be more creative by serving something like breadstick snails as an appetizer.

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Favor Bags:

Favor bags always look fabulous when decorated with butterflies, flowers or ribbon

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Music:  

Faeries love to dance to soft music.  Give each child  rainbow scarves or streamers to dance around with.

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Faerie Character:

A Faerie character will lead your party for you and add to the magic of the day.

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Cupcakes/Cake:

Whether you decide on serving cupcakes or cake, simple embellishments are easy to add.

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Sugary Treats:

For the parent who wants a little something extra for the children to take home.

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These are just some of the simple things you can do to make your event more magical!

By |September 18th, 2014|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips|0 Comments

Food for Thought on Planning Your Child’s Birthday

 

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I am a planner by nature; it’s just part of my DNA. And in the 10 years that I have been working in this industry, I have interacted with different types of clients:

* The laid back client who gives you full reign to do whatever you think best.

* The involved client who is also a planner and plans on participating in their child’s party.

* The nervous client who is overwhelmed at the idea of having to entertain their child and his or her friends and needs much guidance is the planning process.

As an event planner, the greatest advice I can give for planning your child’s party is to have a game plan and to be well organized. Please plan ahead and don’t procrastinate. One of the first thing you will need to decide is on a theme.   This can be easy or not if your child is indecisive. Next will be to choose a location and date. If your children have winter birthdays like mine, it’s safe to say that you will most likely be indoors depending upon geographic location of course. As for dates, remember to check school activity schedules as well as holidays. I can’t tell you how many times I have to remind parents of certain holidays or a party needs to be rescheduled because of a soccer game.

castle1When planning a birthday party, there are different types of parties.

1. The Venue Party: This is one of the most easiest birthdays you can go throw your child. This takes place at a specific theme location and is designed to make things easy for you. Ex. Jump house locations, bowling alleys, ice rinks, etc. All you really need to do is show up and write a check.

2. Event planner party: This type of party can require a little bit of effort on your part. Depending on the company’s package and pricing, you can hire someone to do as much or as little as needed. A full service event planner can do everything from printing out invitations, making favors, bringing costumes, tables, chairs, crafts, provide catering ,you name it.

mary poppins_snow white3. Hiring a costume performer: This is what The Cinderella Co and similar companies do. Hiring a performer is a very simple, economical and creative way of having a party for your child without a large expense. It’s designed to alleviate a parent’s stress of not having to come up with planned activities to host their child’s friends.

4. Throw your own party: This is for the client who loves to plan and involves the most effort; it can be the least affordable as well as the most affordable depending on the level the parent takes it to.

No matter what route you take, early planning is the best. After selecting a theme and location, figure out how large or small you want the party to be. As both a parent and event planner, my ideal guest count is 12 or less. The reason being is that you and your children will get so much more out of a smaller party. A lot of times parents feel obligated in having to invite their child’s entire class. I am here to say that you do not have to and no one should make you feel like you need to. With class sizes today, that’s at least 20 kids and often times does not include neighbors or relatives. I don’t know about you, but that is a lot of children to have to entertain. One of the politically correct ways around this, is by having a gender party.

Photos: I had to learn the hard way with this one. When my oldest was four, I had invited her class of 25 and although I had lots of friends to help me the day of, I was still running around making sure that everyone was happy that I really had no time to enjoy watching her. Don’t miss out on your child’s party because you’re worrying about guests and their parents.   Depending on what your budget is, you can either hire a photographer or have a friend take photos for you. Just don’t miss out on the moment.

Time limit: This is dependent on what type of party you are having. For family parties, time limits usually run longer. When inviting friends, my advice is to stick with a 2-3 hour max.

Back up Plan: Unless you are hosting a party at theme location, it’s wise to have an emergency back up plan. The reason being is because life happens and we are thrown unexpected curve balls all the time. For ex. outdoor parties and weather. Here in California, parents need to be aware of the heat index and sun exposure during the summer. During winter, parents are faced with cold temperature and rain. There is nothing worse than planning an outdoor party for 20 plus children, to learn that it’s going to rain the day of or be really hot out. This is why I always recommend keeping numbers to a manageable amount. If hiring a character company, be aware that performers do get sick or unexpected events can occur. If this happens, a back up plan will save you (next week’s blog).

Lunch: It is important to figure out if you want to serve lunch or not. If you are, keep in mind that young children don’t eat a whole lot, and it’s best to keep things simple by offering kid friendly foods. You also need to figure out if you plan on serving the parents as well. Most parents will stay for younger aged kids.

Siblings: Can you accommodate the siblings of your party guests.

Invitations, Products & Decor: I buy almost everything online. One of my favorite invitation companies is Itty Bitty. With favors, you can purchase some fabulous hand-made items off of Etsy and for decor ideas there is Pinterest.

I hope that this will help your party planning a bit more stress free. Just remember to keep a checklist and stay organized.

Written by Terri / Published by Jennifer

By |August 25th, 2014|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips|0 Comments