Every child loves to celebrate their birthday. Who wouldn’t? It’s a day all about them! No matter the venue, the theme, the gifts, or the attendees, your child will have a ball being washed in love on their own special day. But at a certain point you, as the parent, can sometimes get a little tired of the same birthday hum-drum year after year.
Every year you pick a cake, you pick a place, you send out the invites, you buy the gifts and party favors, and it all just starts to feel the same (especially when you just came from Jenny’s birthday last weekend, Cameron’s the weekend before… you get the picture). Periodically even that most special of days for your child needs a little innovation injection to make it fun and exciting again (for them AND for you).
Here are a couple of easy ways to make your child’s birthday party special again.
Start the party early with a morning of surprises
The party will be special (obviously), but you can increase the anticipation and thrill by showering your child with special surprises throughout the day, starting as soon as they wake up.
Write a special birthday note for them on the bathroom mirror in the morning, or hang a colorful birthday sign on their bedroom door. Have a birthday t-shirt or “it’s my birthday” button ready for them to wear for the day. Older kids might also appreciate getting to wear something new (a bracelet or new shoes perhaps). Make something fun and out-of-the-ordinary for breakfast, like chocolate chip pancakes, and acknowledge the occasion with a birthday candle on top! You can even designate a special birthday chair decorated with streamers for your child to sit in at breakfast.
There are lots of ways to kick-off the day that will make the whole birthday extra special.
Pick a theme and run with it
It may feel a little cheesy, but especially when your kids are young, the theme of their party can really carry the whole event and make it truly memorable. Will your child remember that they had an epic birthday party at a waterpark, or will they remember that they had a “Mermaids and Pirates, Treasure Hunt Adventure” party at the waterpark? (Hopefully both, but absolutely the latter!). So don’t be afraid to pick a theme and run with it.
Think early on about what your child’s party theme might be, and try to find one that’s meaningful for them. If there’s a particular show, movie or book that they adore, center the theme around that. Or if they’re prone to all things cars, all things princesses or all things science, create a party theme that caters to that interest.
And then (and here’s the really important part) make sure the theme permeates all aspects of the party. For your “Mermaid and Pirate Treasure Hunt,” make pretty purple and effervescent teal, which you can learn more about here, underwater decorations or desert island decorations, a treasure trove cake, and sunken treasure party favors.
Don’t feel like you have to break the bank: there are plenty of ways to make your own decorations with things you have lying around the house – you just have to think creatively about it. But do make sure that if you’ve picked a theme for this party, it’s FELT throughout.
Kids need a core activity: what will yours be?
As an adult, a great party can be all about the mingling, the food, the music, and the great conversation. But for kids, there needs to be a bit more structure: you need to pick a central activity that will keep your child and his or her guests engaged and enthralled (for at least a few hours). “Mermaid and Pirate” party at the waterpark is fun, but what’s more fun is if you plan out an actual treasure hunt for the kids to engage in throughout the park.
Give each child a map of the park: at different points on the map they’ll find signage that might spell out a code word, and when they bring you back that code word, they’ll get to find the treasure you have waiting for them. Of course, they can have fun splashing around the park too, but by creating a goal or a mission you give your child and his guests direction and structure that will keep them busy (plus an amazing birthday memory).
Let little surprises make a big impact
Maybe your child’s birthday party this year needs to be low-key (as parents we all have those years where budget or timeline don’t align for that big-budget birthday, and that’s perfectly okay). Your child’s birthday can still be incredibly special if you make a point of sprinkling in little surprises throughout their day that will keep them on their toes and continue reminding them of your love.
If your child goes to school on the day of their birthday, slip a small present into their lunchbox. When they get home, plan a birthday dinner for them that’s only their favorite foods (even if that mean mac-n-cheese, potato chips, and ice cream). Invite one or two friends over and have a living room camping party with blanket forts and sleeping bags. Your child’s day can absolutely be magical without a ton of presents or a massive party if you make a point of keeping it surprising and whimsical.
With little surprises throughout the day, a theme that you hold to, and a central “activity,” your child’s birthday can absolutely be one for the books, and you can re-ignite your enthusiasm for party planning! Brainstorm early, really let your creativity soar, but most of all, have fun with it: you’re making memories that truly will last a lifetime.