KT turned 7 yesterday, so it has been a week of celebrating, including a kids’ birthday party. She has been planning her birthday party since January, changing her mind constantly on theme and activities. To be honest, I didn’t listen too carefully to what she was saying because I know this about her–she often changes her mind, as kids that age do, because their world is changing: they finish one grade, go through their summer, and start school again with different friends, interests, and favorites. Also, let’s be totally honest here, I don’t love kids’ birthday parties. Last week’s party was a result of love for my daughter and a wish to give her what she wanted for her birthday, creating a positive memory she will have for a lifetime.

So, we came up with a theme after doing an Internet search for popular birthday party ideas and themes. We decided on a pet adoption party–no worries, I’m not totally crazy–the pets were not real. Whose parents would have sent their kids to a REAL pet adoption party? KT’s friends each adopted a small, adorable, brightly colored stuffed dog, which I found on Amazon here.

When you read the following tips below, remember, I try to be practical. I was trying to do this party on a budget. I don’t have a huge house, and I don’t love to throw birthday parties. (You’re wondering if the kids even got to have fun, aren’t you? 🙂 )

Here are the 4 tips:

  1.  Kids’ birthday party invitations are ridiculous. You receive 8 to 10 invitations in a pack, and they are small and expensive. So, this year, I ordered a set of 36 dog notecards for $9.99 and used Word to create what goes on the inside of the invitation. I copied that information four times on one page and printed it. Katie and I cut out the four squares of info per page and glued them in each notecard to create the invitation. In my opinion, these were cuter and easier to read than most party invitations, and of course, way cheaper than $4 to $5 for only 8 to 10 invitations.
  2. Who to invite? This is always a challenge with KT’s school friends. We have family friends with kids whom we definitely invite. But what about her school friends? Because I don’t have a huge house and because her birthday is in late October (so who knows what the weather will be), we have decided each year to invite only the girls from her class. It’s important to be inclusive, but you can’t invite so many kids that there will be no room for them to have fun, and you won’t be able to afford the treats!
  3. My friend gave me some of the best advice: “Basic stuff is what kids like most. Play. Pinatas. Balloons.” She also said, “The important thing is that KT has fun and enjoys her party.” This told me–get into the mindset of my child. I didn’t need fancy activities or decorations or even snacks. For activities, KT and I planned some cute things to do with the dogs: fill out an adoption certificate, which I printed free from some website; dog houses, which were paper bags that kids decorated with markers; and collars/leashes, which we made out of pipe cleaners. We did an obstacle course with the dogs, decorated a cookie (not dog themed at all), and played pass the hot doggie (potato) to “Who Let the Dogs Out?” It took about 10 minutes to come up with all of this, and the kids had fun–even though it was INSIDE (Did I mention the weather was awful that day?). We sang happy birthday, ate cake and treats, and  opened presents.  I tried to make the treats kid-friendly and not too sugary (besides the cookie, cake, and ice cream, of course): grapes, pretzels, cheese sticks, crackers, Gogurt.  After all of this, the two hours (which is PLENTY LONG) was almost up, so kids did a little balloon play until parents came.
  4. You must ask for help. As a single parent and only child with elderly parents, I had to ask for help. KT’s godmother and her daughters who usually help were going to be out of town, so I asked some of my best friends, who have kids, and my cousins to help me, and they did. I definitely could NOT have done the party without them. I had 5 adult helpers, with 3 that I had specific jobs for, and I needed this many, especially because…you guessed it…we could not be outside. I had some snacks and adult beverages for them and thanked them profusely during the party and after.

KT had an amazing time, and I’m happy that I could throw this party for her. It’s fun to see her classmates and little friends with her, and all in all, the party was a success. If you have tips that have worked for you, please let us know in the comments. Let’s help each other throw practical, fun parties for our kids!

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