Three Ways to Simplify a Birthday Party


Happy Birthday! Do you remember when a kid’s birthday party used to consist of cake, opening presents, playing in the backyard, and hot dogs? I do, but in the last few years, they’ve morphed into events that rival weddings. Somehow every year you’re expected to host an event that entertains the children, impresses the parents, and completely wears you out. Doesn’t it seem like someone is missing in that equation? Oh yeah . . . the birthday baby.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a well planned event and those cute little details. I could scan Pinterest all day finding a million ways to perfect the Bubbles and Balloons party we’ll be hosting soon . . . and I probably will. But, I do believe in balance, and in that spirit, I give you three tips to help you simplify your next birthday party:

Save the Paper

. . . and your money. I love receiving an adorable birthday invitation in the mail, but I don’t send them. A long time ago, I decided it’s the one thing I could cut out of the party prep. I choose to send e-vites instead because they’re free, they won’t end up in someone’s wastebasket, and when the other parents are driving to the party, they can look up the details on their phone. I know they’ll remember the latter and not have to look at the paper invitation that, oh yeah, they already threw away in the trash.

Cater to the Kids

For my daughter’s first birthday party I caught myself trying to create two menus: One for the kids and one for their parents. Menus are difficult — especially if you’re trying to match a theme, make everything a certain color, accommodate allergies, and/or choose dishes that will hold up in the heat. Then I remembered: This is a children’s party! First and foremost, I want my kid to like everything we serve, and, second, I want her little friends to like it. The parents aren’t my priority. That may sound harsh. I know we all want to host events that everyone will enjoy, but at the end of the day, the party is for the kids. You can totally invite the parents over some other time and serve them your goat cheese and honey crostinis.

Embrace the Basic Theme

We almost threw a Daniel Tiger birthday party this year, and I will admit that I was formulating plans to make a life-size trolley photo backdrop. I mean . . . it would have been cool, and the moms probably would have been super impressed, but how long would that have taken me? How much money would it have taken away from a present I could have bought for my daughter instead? Would she even have enjoyed it? Maybe for a minute — or two, who knows — it would have freaked her out. Thank goodness, she suddenly lost interest in Daniel, and we decided to go with bubbles and balloons. I’ll decorate with a ton of balloons because every time she sees one, she yells “B-loons!” and we’ll fill the backyard with bubble wands and machines because her smile is the biggest when she’s chasing bubbles. She’ll love it, and that’s literally all that matters.

How do you simplify your children’s birthday parties? What are your best party tips?

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Hayley was born in Fort Worth and raised in the small, nearby town of Bridgeport. She married her husband, Derric, in 2009 and before settling back in Fort Worth, they made stops in Washington D.C., Dallas, and San Antonio. Isabelle Story arrived in 2014, and Hayley is lucky enough to spend her days at home with her precious girl . . . although they’re rarely actually at home as Isabelle likes to see and be seen. Apart from her family, books are Hayley’s passion. She is an avid reader and her lifelong dream is to write a novel. If she isn’t chasing Isabelle or stuck in a book, you can find her exploring this city she adores, trying new restaurants with Derric, doling out reading recommendations, running at a local park (in bad form), at Kyle Field watching her beloved Aggies, or making irresponsible decisions at a local Half Price Books.


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