Party Planning 101

Tomorrow we are having a birthday party for our son and as of this very moment we have 55 RSVPs...that is just counting one per invite...there may be more. I am a little stressed. Not so much because of the number, but because of the forecast. It is supposed to rain during the party. Now I am worrying about the number. ALL of those kids shooting Nerf inside? I am less excited about that. Oh well, we will be making memories...and getting hit by Nerf.

So many Darts

So many Darts

Today I am giving you my TOP TEN LIST for Party Planning 101. Sure there are more than these, but this will get you started off great. 

Pick Your Theme-Remember on Monday we talked about the importance of a theme? Choose something so you can have some framework on what to do, how to decorate, etc.

For this birthday party my son picked Nerf. That is the theme that I based everything upon. 

Make Your List-I am the Queen of Lists (it is a formal title...duh), now I am also the Queen of Not Following Lists (a lesser known royalty). Most of my lists go into my phone so I always have them, but when I get serious I break out the cardstock and the Sharpie and start writing my punch list. I make lists for the guests, the menu, the decorations, the things we have to do around the house, etc. 

I am starting the serious list today.

Pick the Time- This is important. Unless you want to have a big meal with everyone, then pick a time in between meals...that will help save money too. And the duration of the party is also important. Most people do two hours for kids parties...not me, not anymore...I do an hour and a half. It is perfection...you wouldn't think those 30 minutes would make a difference, but yet they do. Of course it depends on the age of the kids, but sometimes it is hard to entertain kids for two hours straight.

So the Nerf party is from 3:30 pm-5:00 pm...in between meals and less than two hours.

Send the Invite-The invite depends on the demographics and the size. Typically I use Paperless Post it is an online invitation and card service. You can choose free or low cost invites. But if you are having a small party do some paper invites...you can do all sorts of sweet and unique ones. Or if you are having people that aren't technology savvy then do paper invites. I send the invite at least a month in advance.

We did Paperless Post for the Nerf party. 

Plan Your Meal-If you didn't listen to me then let's plan a big meal. If you DID listen to me (then you are my favorite)  I will share what snacks to have. This is just a list of the easiest and/or cheapest party foods.

Big Meals: Pasta, Bruschetta Bar, Hot Dogs, Pizza, Burgers, Funeral Sandwiches, Baked Potato Bar, Tacos, Sandwiches, BBQ, Homemade Salad Bar, or Appetizers (a ton to make a meal). 

Snacks: Veggie Tray or at the very least a bunch of carrots, Ranch Dip (If you can get Uncle Dan's get that and just mix it with sour cream...the yummiest), fresh fruit (don't get grapes...they taste great but you can't trust kids with them...you don't need to do the Heimlich), Pirate's Booty, Crackers and Cheese, Pepperoni, Meatballs, Popcorn.

Also, you can always have "theme food." Shape the food like your theme or have food to go along with the theme..a veggie Yoda for a Star Wars party and cornbread for a cowboy birthday. 

Tomorrow we are having just snacks for the party: carrots and ranch dip, fresh fruit, chips (I mean, it is a party), lemonade, water, and cake...lots of cake. We are also having a sleepover...that is when we are having dinner...appetizers (so many appetizers), veggies, and fruit. 

Paper Goods or the Real Deal-If I have a large party I do paper goods. If I have a smaller gathering then I use the real deal...plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. You can also mix and match the real and the disposables. I get my paper goods at Target, IKEA, Walmart, and the Dollar Tree.**** You also should invest in some platters and some serving utensils and everyone needs a cake stand (or four). If you have right gear it makes throwing a party soooo much easier. The best places for those are HomeGoods, IKEA, Ross, Target, and Crate and Barrel. 

For the Nerf party we are doing the paper route. I purchased the papergoods in the colors of Nerf...blue, orange, and yellow. 

****Okay, I get it the horrible things that Walmart does. I grew up in Arkansas the birthplace of Walmart, so I do go there sometimes. It is in my DNA. They do have hella deals. And the same thing for the Dollar Tree I love/hate the Dollar Tree...they have so much amazing stuff for a $1! But what are the environmental and social implications of those deals? I know, I feel bad. I do. Seriously I always think about what if a horrible disaster happened when I was in a Walmart or Dollar Tree and how much shame I would feel if that is where my loved ones would find my dead body. So I try to do good in the world, I try to shop local, we grow our own food...I do what I can for the world to balance out my retail sins. I am trying people.****

Decor-Make your own decor like paper chains or tissue paper tassel banners. I typically don't crazy about decor all over...I just focus on a few statement pieces. I love pendants and banners. Make them or buy them. Cheap and easy is my style. ;) Oh, and I don't typically do balloons indoors unless there is enough for each kid. It is too sad to see kids fighting over the decorations. I do put balloons on the mailbox to help guide people to our home. Once again this is how you get to use your theme. For our daughter's Zoboomafoo party we had an artificial Christmas tree up and decorated it with these knitted snakes I made for the party, they also doubled as a party favor. 

For the Nerf party, we will have a giant balloon and streamers, we are also having a ton of pendants throughout the front room, and maybe a few targets here and there. There are no party favors at this particular party. 

Activities-So first and foremost make sure you plan a game/activity based on your theme. Check this link for some ideas and then adjust them to go with your theme. 

The activity for this party will be shooting people with Nerf darts. Novel, huh? We have a million (that may be an exaggeration) safety glasses. 

Wardrobe-It is so nerdy, but I also get everyone in my family an outfit to highlight the theme for each of the kid's birthday parties. Maybe it is a costume or coordinating outfits, or tee shirts highlighting the theme. A LOT of our parties have included full on costumes.

This party we are wearing black or camo so we can shoot people. Oh, and our son got this great shirt that talks about him being an awesome 9 year old. 

Implement-The days before and the day of the party I am a nut job. I am mainly freaking nuts because so much of the house looks like we were victims of a home invasion...we weren't.  The best thing to do for this day is to take a deep breath and don't stress (as best you can). This is also a great time to make a detailed list of the countdown of the day...this will help keep you on track!

I am cleaning all day, shipping kids off to clean some more, and whatever else I need to do!

Hope this helps get you off and running for Party Planning! Please say a prayer as we embark on the crazy birthday party zone!