Ideas for a party

martha steward

When I was little, my mum made sure my birthday parties ended up in ‘days to remember’. Although they were never overly organized and they never cost a whole lot of money, they were always great as they were primarily aimed at me and my friends (instead of my parents and their friends)!
I remember a homemade cake (helping my mum make the cake was already half of the fun), the obvious presents, and an afternoon spent in the garden with a small group of friends, playing simple games like ‘musical chairs’, ‘drop the handkerchief’ or ‘donkey’s tail’ — old fashioned games with little prizes as a reward for the proud winners! The grand finale would be a dinner just for kids, and it was always my choice of menu (I usually chose lasagne)!
I was talking to Emilie the other day, and her daughter’s third birthday is approaching rapidly (well, it’s in December but her daughter is already talking about nothing else). She was asking me for ‘third birthday tips’, or birthday tips in general.
Now, I prefer to have my kids’ birthday parties in my own house and prepare my own food and cake, but if your house is too small or you’re afraid of the mess (because a mess there will be, you can count on that!), it might be a safer bet to rent out a place, or to take the kids to an activity center of some sort. There are loads of great choices around these days!

For home birthday parties (for smaller kids), here are my tips:

  • Let your child choose the theme of the cake. My daughter chose to have a bright pink princess cake for her third birthday last May.
  • Let your child wear a special party outfit that he/she will be super proud of (in my daughter’s case an over-the-top pink princess dress).
  • Borrow (Ikea) children’s tables and chairs from friends, and dress up a whole cute table just for the kids and their friends. It’s such fun to do this, and it makes the whole thing really special for the kids! For inspiration see the picture: cute kids’ party deco ideas by Martha Stewart.
  • Have plenty of sippy cups around (preferably one for each child) to minimize the mess, and try to choose hard and healthy snacks to put on the table (I once tried hummous and I’m still finding it everywhere).
  • A Dutch custom is to decorate the room (or garden) with garlands, decorate the chair of the birthday boy/girl with paper flowers and their age, and buy/make a special birthday crown for the ‘party-pig’ (I blogged about this before).
  • Balloons are a must. Party hats too.
  • Put smaller toys away; just keep the big toys out. Set up a play house or hut, with dolls, plates, a kitchen, blankets for beds etc. Always a hit, both for boys and girls. Cardboard works fine, it just needs to survive for a couple of hours!
  • Keep certain rooms of the house closed, to keep the mess contained.
  • Have some sort of easy dinner in the house for the parents (I don’t know about your friends, but mine always ‘stay’, so you’ll have to feed them dinner)! Quiches or soups are great because you can prepare them beforehand.

Do you have good tips for birthdays?

xxx Esther

6 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Emilie | October 30, 2008 | Reply

I love this, it is going to be my birthday party template!!

2. Courtney | October 30, 2008 | Reply

You always throw the cutest birthday parties!! I just love how it can be so wonderful and yet so simple too. No fancy entertainer, no big ‘funding’, nothing too fancy — but still perfect!!
It’s no wonder we (your guests) always want to stay!!!

3. Libby | October 30, 2008 | Reply

Love the idea of birthdays at home!
My mother once served chocolate milk in wine glasses with purple bows on them for my birthday lunch. We also had a hat contest and each birthday guest came in a hat. We had prizes for “Oh so Springy” “Tres Chic” etc. I think I was in 2nd grade.
V. fun

4. Shawn | October 31, 2008 | Reply

When I was a kid, my parents got a movie screen and projector and we had a movie party where we all got to see a real movie. We made popcorn and it was a real experience. I also recommend a piñata stuffed with little toys or sweets. They have the ones with pull strings which are a little safer than the ones you have to hit with a stick.

5. Ivanna at | October 31, 2008 | Reply

Your tips are great! Another tip I have is to do as much of the decrating/cooking the night before. It will take away a lot of the stress and make the party enjoyable for everyone.

6. Ria | October 20, 2015 | Reply

This is great! Will definitely be using these tips for my girl’s 4th birthday. Thanks.