- Sophie &Friends
<p>Sometimes combining parties can be a great idea. Sophie shares some suggestions to have your themes work together.</p>
I’ve said it many times before, but I’m going to say it again: kids go to too many birthday parties! I’ve met parents who have spent their entire weekends carting their children from one affair to another. I ran into one parent who bemoaned the fact that in one day she had a 10:00 drop off for her youngest, an 11:00 drop off for her oldest, a 12:00 pick up for the youngest, followed by a 1:30 drop off for her middle twins, a 3:00 pick up for her oldest, and then finally a 3:30 pick up for her twins... I asked her if she would like me to lend her a chauffeur cap.
There’s a local school that has a pretty interesting solution: the combined monthly party. Each parent is given a schedule of birthdays for each month of the year that the kids are in school and then it’s up to the parents to make a choice: do a party with less than 3 kids or combine parties with the kids that share the same birthday month and invite the whole class.
I did this recently for two boys and a girl all sharing the month of February, and it was a huge success. It worked on a lot of levels: the parents were able to split the cost of the party three ways, making it very economical, the parents were able to hang out and connect because they all came (siblings as well as party kids attended, so the family didn’t need to be split up), and the party kids, although given their equal respect and due, were able to enjoy the party without being in the heat of the spotlight.
If you decide this situation might work for you, then here are a few things to consider.
1. Choose a venue that is large enough for everyone or make the decision to limit the guest list to classmates, birthday kid siblings, and birthday family. Decide with the other families ahead of time how many “extra” people they can invite. Make sure everyone feels equally represented.
2. If you are going to do presents, make sure to designate a box or table with a big sign for each child. I prefer the box method only because it is “out of sight, out of mind” and children won’t be able to compare size and number of presents. You may want to choose a “no presets” policy, or if you wish, you can have folks contribute to one nice gift for each child. Just make sure it’s noted on the invitation.
3. Split up duties according to skill sets. If you’ve got a parent who loves decorating, then put them in charge of that, while another can be in charge of food and drink, entertainment, games, etc. Play to each person’s strengths.
4. Host parents should confirm a budget that is comfortable for everyone and then divvy up the budget accordingly. If a parent wishes to add an additional item (like a performer) at their own cost, then that is up to them; however, the budget and what it will cover should be decided ahead of time.
5. Decide ahead of time whether there will be one cake or multiple cakes, and how you wish to sing “Happy Birthday.” You need to make sure that the kids weigh in on this decision, as there’s nothing worse than not having your birthday moment if you want it. Even if you do one cake, you may want to sing “Happy Birthday” for each child alone, and let them blow out their own set of candles (just sing, relight, sing, relight, sing...) Set it up ahead of time as to how you will sing, whether it’s alphabetically, by date of birthday, or whatever... Make sure to do this before the party, not right before you are going to sing! Another option is one big cake, and a cupcake with candles for each child.
6. Choose a theme that works for all the kids. This can be tricky depending upon the kids, but there are some ways to integrate many themes into one party. Stations throughout the party spaces are a great way to incorporate many different themes. Here are some suggestions for parties that work for mixed groups...
Birthday Town USA
Set up different “shops” -- if one kid is into cars, set up a little garage; if one kid is into Legos, set up a “construction” site; if one kid is into beauty, set up a nail salon; if one kid is into fashion, set up a dress up area...
Magical Medieval Kingdom
This can incorporate knights, kings, princesses, queens, and magical creatures, which should give you something for everyone, be it jousting, or taking care of the royal bunny!
Games of chance played for tickets is a one of those time-honored themes that just can’t go wrong. Throw in a prize station where kids can buy their own goodies, and a few old-fashioned group games and you’ve got yourself a party.
It’s All About Me and Thee Party
Choose one special thing about each birthday kid and create a station just for them. It could be an art corner, a karate corner, a cooking corner, whatever. You could even go so far as to name each activity corner after each kid.
All Around the World (or Country)
Set up stations that represent the nationality and backgrounds of each birthday kid. Give each guest a little passport and have them make their way through all the stations, getting stamps along the way.
Keep the sports silly, light, and simple and mix in things that work for every kid’s style. If you have a kid who loves dress up, then mix in the dress up relay game, if you’ve got kids who love soccer, then play soccer, but play with a giant beach ball instead of a regulation ball. Do real Olympic sports, with silly equipment, like baseball with a pool noodle and beach ball, or shot putt with a water balloon. Focus on making things fun and silly as opposed to serious.
Pirates and Princesses
Believe it or not this is a great combination! Great for kids that love to dress up: gals have the option of being pirate princesses if they want, and boys can choose to go regal or rogue. Play pin the crown on the Jolly Roger for a fun activity/game!
Got boys that like to rock out and girls that dig fairies, then put the two together for a Rockin’ Fairies party. There’s nothing more fun than watching a group of fairies rock out with blow up guitars. The focus can be on the music, the dancing, or creating your rockin’ fairy persona. Set up a wild hair station where kids can try everything from mohawks to daisy chains.
The most important thing to remember when you are planning a group party is make sure that everyone is involved so that no one feels they are doing too much. If you are lucky, this experience could be a really fun one for you and your family, and could end up creating a new relationship. Just remember, keep it light, keep it fun, and remember, it’s about celebrating the kids!