Thursday, August 28, 2008

Birthday Party Blues???: Food and Gifts

Congratulations!  You're almost there.  Your guests are coming, the home is decorated, and goodie bags are filled.  You're child is dressed, you have fresh film, and the video camera is charged.  But wait, what are you going to feed this gang?


Traditionally, parties held between 11am-2pm and 5-7pm would mean that you would be feeding your guests a meal.  Either lunch or dinner depending on the time of day.  This means an additional cost and burden on you as the hostess.  Some moms thrive on this.  I don't.  However, you if you do plan a party for this time, you should expect to provide more than cake and ice cream for your guests.  In that case, these are just a few useful suggestions:
  • Host a barbeque- Enjoy the great outdoors with hamburgers, hot dogs, and some fixings.  This way you can still mingle with your guests and they visit outside, keeping you from being stuck in the kitchen during the party.
  • Have a mock fondue party- A dipping party of sorts, provide a variety of veggies, chips, and crackers as well as several dips and spreads.
  • Have a tea party- Display an assortment of tea sandwiches, scones, muffins and spreads for your guests to enjoy as they mingle.
If you choose to avoid meal time, you may opt to provide just the basics: cake, ice cream, beverages, and 1-2 finger foods.  A party like this would hosted during that mid-morning or mid afternoon time before 11 am or between 2-5pm.  This may be a bit tricky with the younger crowd taking afternoon naps, but it doable.  Just keep in mind that shorter parties are better for this age group anyways.

In our family, we usually host the kids' parties between 3-5pm and serve the following:
  • homemade cake and/or cupcakes
  • water
  • punch
  • tortilla chips and 7-layer dip
  • veggie tray with dip
  • and possibly a 7-up salad
The kids get a little something in their tummies before the sugar and it helps keep them from becoming too cranky.  As we all know, hunger and sleepiness are the two major meltdown triggers to any celebration.  So I would absolutely encourage you to provide a small snack like these to keep your guests content until the main cake event.

Fun Gifts for Children Ages 1-5

Gifts is a sticky situation.  I hate to dictate what other people buy my child, but somethings are just so annoying to have around.  And unnecessary.  I tend toward simple, educational, active toys and gifts.  And tend away from items that need batteries.  Ok, well, there are a few of those on my list.  Not too many hopefully...

  • A craft assortment- Hit the dollar store and fill a gift bag full of pom poms, pipe cleaners, stamps and stamp pads, markers, sidewalk chalk, crayons, googlie eyes,  stickers, construction paper, etc.  This will provide the parent with some fun stuff to keep their child busy and active.
  • A favorite childhood book- Purchase your favorite childhood book for the birthday boy or girl.  Look for unusual stories and concepts, potentially concepts that are foreign to the area in which you live or the experiences of the child. 
  • Blocks and Puzzles- Again, these provide the opportunity for lots of creative thinking and problem solving. 
  • Little People- I love these as they provide plenty of opportunity for imaginative thinking and play.
  • Outside toys- Things like wagons and sprinklers are a great hit and something that will absolutely be used.
  • Leap Frog Fridge Phonics- This is a great one in our house.  We find it's a wonderful toy for learning the ABC's.
  • Tunnels and Playhouses- These collapse so they are good for small spaces and continue to support imagination.
Again just keep them active, keep them growing.  At this age, everything is a learning experience; however, some toys will better support this than others.  So just take some time to think through your choices and make sure it's not going to be just another toy that fills up the toy box.

Congratulations!  You have just hosted a wonderful birthday party.  Your guests were dazzled by your calm cool manner in entertaining the kids and all had a wonderful time.  I hope these tips each week have given you some wonderful advice and helped you get ready for a fun filled day.  Have a good time!


Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet said...

Great ideas! :D Thank you for sharing!

Audra Krell said...

I'm loving the mock fondue party idea, every kid of all ages, even adults, loves to dip. Great series you've posted here.

CC said...

I'll have to read the rest of your ideas. My daughter's party is in 2 weeks. We always play 10am parties so that we don't have to feed people. But we do have to provide coffee for the adults! ;)

For this party (for the 1st time) we asked guests NOT to bring gifts, just a book for a book exchange.

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