With Honor's 7th birthday rapidly approaching we were admittedly a little stumped as to what to do for her party, especially with her (ever increasing) guest list. This prompted me to look back over the years to what parties we've held. Luckily for us she's a summer baby so at the beginning we could get away with pizza in the park but as she's got bigger so has the budget.
Here's some party tips and ideas (for rain or shine) at a variety of $$$ points:
1. THE BIRTHDAY CAKE
Seriously isn't it all about the cake? I cannot remember half the parties I had as a kid, but I can remember the cake. Perfectly imperfect home-made ones really are the best. My favourite is from my 3rd birthday, a chocolate cake house covered in smarties and my mum had spelt my name out in silver balls (and squashed in the last letters as she'd run out of room!). If you're no baker honestly a cake packet will do and then get creative with cake toppers, etsy do some great ones.
Being English I never realised pizza at parties was a thing - in England we have cucumber sandwiches (seriously) and jelly (jello) and ice cream - but I quickly realised that every kids party we attended everyone ordered pizza. And it's genius! Quick, cheap and easy, all those little tummies are filled with a simple cheese and tomato pie and job done!
3. STICK TO 2 HOURS
2 hours goes amazingly fast (hurrah!) but it's exactly enough time for the kids to go crazy and exhaust themselves.
Sadly no one sends paper invites any more but Paperless post is a wonderful replacement- it also sends out a reminder email and chases people who are slow to rsvp.
5. A MAGICIAN
This is what we landed on for Honor's 7th birthday and she is SO excited. We found 'Magic Evan' (a school teacher in his non magical life) on Yelp.com. He is providing the goodie bags - which personally sold me immediately- and Honor will be his assistant which has made her year. We will be hosting at our apartment and it's a drop-off party. I'll let you know how it goes!
6. FACE PAINTING
Face painting is appreciated, pretty much by every age group (including some adults/star wars lovers :) )and can be added to a park party (as we did one year) to spice things up. Check their gallery first for their artistic range and double check that they can do you child's favourite character before booking.
7. POOL PARTY
In Brooklyn, no one has a pool :) so we all head to the pop-up pool down in DUMBO. Last year Honor's BFF Dash had a Hawaiian themed party with lei's and tropical mocktails. It was AWESOME. A paddling pool in the back garden is also a fantastic substitute.
8. THE MOVIES
Movie ideas can start from taking a small group of his or her closet friends (try roping in a couple of friendly parents to join if the number gets too high) for pop corn and candy and an age-appropriate movie. To turning your back garden into a theater. Grab pillows and sleeping bags. This option is better for older kids as obviously you have to wait until it gets dark!
9. PARTY WITH GAMES
This is seriously what I grew up with as a little girl. Pass the parcel - children sit in a circle passing a toy wrapped in layers of wrapping paper. When the music stops the child unwraps a layer (tuck a piece of candy or a small toy between layers). Make sure you rig the music so that every child unwraps a piece and totally stage the winner. Maybe the younger sibling (who will be feeling left out that it's not their birthday!) Sleeping lions is another excellent one with kids lying on the floor pretending to be asleep, if you move you're out! It took me years to work out that my parents just wanted us to all be quiet! Musical chairs and musical statues are also super.
10. A THEME
Honor recently went to an older friends' Taylor Swift party as (yes you've guessed it) Taylor Swift. But you can also do a simple dance party and encourage kids to dress up in everything from their favourite party dress to 70s disco - turn the lights off and set up a mirror ball and play music related games. Use soundtracks to the latest Disney movies for bonus points. Play slowed songs as the party ends to chill the kids out.
We looked into doing this for Honor but her guest list was too long(!), plus some of the kids are too young. I think 6+ is probably a good age level and stick to a small group, that way it doesn't take too long for each child to take their turn, you don't want bored kids, trust me. Check with the lanes for hidden costs such as food, one place we looked at wanted $25 a head!!
As a child of the 80s rollerskating was the ultimate party theme and the 80s weren't wrong! Great for ages 4+ (Honor had her 5th birthday at a rollerskating rink). Check they have mini zimmer frames, on wheels, for the kids so all ability levels can participate.
13. THANK YOU NOTES
In an ideal world, where you have all the time in the world - and a child that does as they're told. You would have beautifully hand written notes sent out to each parent. But this is not clearly the case and every parent understands this. A personalized email is perfect or I actually like to send a personalized text with an image of Honor playing with the gift. Paperless post also has a fab 'Thank you' virtual notes section. If you do have the time, then I throughly recommend these personalized cards also from Paperless post. Honor and Imogen both have a set and they're super helpful/ ready to send cards, especially for Grandparents.