Survival Tips for DIY Birthday Party

By Laurie Evans

Planning a DIY birthday party can become a nightmare when you’ve got young children.

What’s the theme? How many guests? What should I feed them? The questions are endless.

Here are our suggestions for keeping the party simple but still full of fun.

Limit the Guests
Inviting all 35 members of your child’s kindergarten class is not a wise move. You may end up with a houseful of kids you’ve never met and everybody will be overwhelmed.

The rule of thumb is one guest for each year of your child’s age. A 5-year-old will enjoy 5 guests much more than 35, and you’ll have a much smaller headache at the end of the party.

Call the Guests
Most people think RSVP is French for “No Need to Call the Host.” If you need a solid head count, start making calls.

Make a Budget
And stick to it! Young kids are no more impressed by over-the-top, custom-made decorations, invitations and cakes than they are by homemade ones.

Goody Bags
Don’t go there. Just don’t. My kid does not need more dollar store toys that are going to end up jamming up my vacuum cleaner sometime next week. Instead, let the kids make a craft at the party and take that home.

Go Old School
Pin the Tail on the Donkey (or Zebra or Spiderman or Dora) is just as much fun today as it was when we were kids. Seriously, any game that involves a blindfold is going to be a mega-hit. Relay races, egg and spoon races, tag and sardines are classics for a reason. Kids love them.

Keep It Short and Sweet
Limit your party to no more than two hours. That’s plenty of time to make a craft, play some games, open the gifts and feed them cake. You are under no obligation to provide an entire day of fun.

Cake Comes Last
Do not start the party out with sugar! Wait until the very end, feed them cake, then send them home to drive their own parents crazy.

Enlist a Photographer
A spouse, older child or friend can chronicle the special day in photos while you are busy running the party.