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FAMILY   -   FAMILY FEATURES
Kids' Birthday Parties
Entertaining at Home
June, 2007 - Issue #32
You might not remember what you ate for breakfast yesterday, but chances are that you recall at least one or two special birthday parties from your childhood. Help your kids make the same great memories by hosting their next birthday party at home. It's easier than you think; read on for expert tips on planning for the festive day.

Fun Themes

"'Spa Girlz' is absolutely our most popular theme," says Donna Collins of Party Wishes. "Every girl, from 8 to 16, loves to be pampered. They make their own body lotion and lip gloss, get facials, play games like 'Musical Polish' and lots more. The Pirate Party is the most popular with boys, but girls love that one, too," she continues. Other themes include Bugs, Fairies, Mermaids and Stuffed Bears.

The Big Chill Owner Lori Parkinson has hosted numerous parties. Her favorite, though, revolves around going to camp. "If the child's name is Madison, I call it 'Camp Madison,'" she says. "Decor consists of picnic baskets, blankets, tents, lanterns, flannel shirts, camp boots, fishing poles... And I serve snacks like trail mix, popcorn, gold fish crackers and pretzels. For the meal we do a barbeque outside, complete with 'camp' hotdogs and corn on the cob. Kids love having a camp scavenger hunt and eating s'mores for dessert," she informs. "Keep the theme running throughout, from the invitation to what guests see as soon as they walk through the door or pull up to the house. Attention to detail makes all the difference."

"Make sure your theme is age appropriate," states Denise Kane of Babe's Dessert Bar. "The best theme parties are when all in attendance participate. Some fun options are Mardi Gras, crazy costumes, decade-specific parties like the '60s, '70s, '80s or '90s, the child's favorite sport or board game... anything goes!"

Going Beyond Plain Cake

What's a party without a sweet finish? While signing "Happy Birthday" is mandatory, serving a traditional cake is not. Maybe your child would love Maggie of Maggie Moo's Ice Cream & Treatery to attend the party, play games and serve yummy ice cream cake. Maggie Moo's Owner Sophia Powell says that, "everyone loves our ice cream cake; they can be decorated with a Disney character theme, for example. Parents can also select a variety ice cream cups as an option."

And for those who seek to impress, a dessert bar is a great option. "I encourage my clients to select several different individual-sized pastries or confections to appease even the pickiest palate. It's beautiful, fun and delicious," says Denise Kane of Babe's Dessert Bar. Besides cakes, the company also delivers totally unique options like stuffed strawberries.

The Key to Kids' Birthdays

Don't...

invite the whole class; eight to 15 guests is more than enough. Have your child get the home addresses of their close friends and mail invitations two to four weeks before the party.

feel obligated to serve a large meal or buffet. Host the party from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and provide juice, a few snack choices and cake.

purchase a ridiculous amount of decorations, costumes and props you'll only use once. Local companies exist that will rent you the items and even set it up for you.

Do...

realize that this is an opportunity to make memories for every child involved. Keep the party small and increase the chances of making it special for everyone there. Small groups force more frequent, higher-quality interaction.

consider hosting a sleepover for older kids. Proceed with the planned party, then serve dinner.

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Donna Collins is the owner of Party Wishes. An event planner for over 20 years, she has hosted over 100 Party Wishes birthday parties, including the popular Spa Girlz themed party.
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