The best birthday EVER! How to plan an awesome party stress free and on any budget
Addy Kearns of McClellanville and guests unwound for her birthday at her spa-themed party.
“She got to relax and got her toenails painted and had to put her feet in water and got a pedicure,” says her mom, Karen Kearns.
Kearns says her children, Addy, 7, and Coeburn, 5, have had themed-birthday parties for a couple of years. Coeburn’s favorite party was the Star Wars theme. He also had a big time at his Superhero party, where he and fellow caped-crusaders battled a devious masked villian and recovered his "stolen" presents.
Corrie Silvers, owner and event planner for Teacups and Trucks, says some popular birthday party themes she is seeing this year are Let’s Bake, A Day at the Spa and All About Trucks.
“Themes that are always in high demand are Pretty Princess and Superhero,” she says.
Josh Wagner, birthday party fun coordinator at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, says there are several popular themes that he plans.
“The Pirates and Knights and Princesses parties are certainly classic themes that have been popular since day one," he says. "Other than those, superheroes of all kinds, Star Wars and Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Many themed parties based around current television shows quickly die out once the shows are no (longer) aired, he says. A few of those current themes are ‘Dora the Explorer,’ ‘Dino Train,’ ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ and ‘Yo Gabba Gabba!’
The well-planned party
Silvers says parents should keep in mind a few tips when planning and hosting a themed birthday party on their own.
She says it is key to start planning early.
"The sooner you can nail down a theme, the easier it will be to buy things on sale and peruse clearance bins for the items that you need,” she says. “A good store to shop in is the Dollar Tree. They have great party items and also allow you to purchase online in bulk.”
Silvers also says it’s important to set a budget for the party because party supplies can add up quickly.
She says parents should consider co-hosting a party with a friend and split the costs.
“Let the children come up with a theme together that they both would enjoy and then parents can divide up the supply list and save lots of money,” she says.
Hosting a party between meal times is another money-saving tip, she says.
“If you plan your party around lunch and dinner, you will not have to feel obligated to provide a meal,” Silvers says. “You can provide a birthday cake and drinks and call it a day.”
There are other tips to keep in mind as well when hosting a themed birthday party.
“Table covers are essential and I would recommend outdoor activities and dining if possible,” Wagner says. “Other than that, balloons and music are essential and if you want to make life easier on yourself, cupcakes are the way to go if you want to save time and energy on cutting and passing out cake.”
The positives of party planning
“My favorite part of planning a themed birthday party is organizing and personalizing the unique themes that are requested. I enjoy creating their scavenger hunts from scratch and developing the back story for them to carry out,” he says. “For example, we had a spy themed party and the scavenger hunt was finding a different number at each location to stop the ‘missile launch sequence.’ ”
Silvers, who has one child, Isaiah, 5, enjoys watching children’s reactions at her parties.
“I love executing every detail from handmade and personalized decor to interactive and imaginative games and activities,” she says. “When a party is over and you know everyone had a great time, there is no better feeling.”
For parents who don’t have the time to host and plan a themed birthday party, Wagner has a piece of advice.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t say that the best way to host a party is to leave it to the professionals,” he says.
But if you’re planning your own party at home, Silvers says it’s important for parents to keep it simple.
“The last thing you want on your child’s special day is to be overly stressed out,” she says. “Remember why you are celebrating and enjoy that moment with your child. The kitchen full of dishes and wrapping paper piled up on the floor will still be there when the party’s over.”
Aya Khalil is a freelance journalist. sShe currently attends College of Charleston, pursuing a Master’s degree in education with a focus in teaching English as a second language. She can be contacted at www.ayakhalil.blogspot.com.