As I sent out photos of Jibber’s birthday party to friends and relatives far away, I thought about how well everything went. I decided that my prior post was simply not complete enough and I should share with practical mommas everywhere. As a former event coordinator, I know that prior preparation and planning makes for a perfect party. What makes a party a success at age 2? Here is the short list…
Although the park we held our party in has all manner of playground equipment, we also supplemented with balls, sidewalk chalk, and the kid’s favorite– the parachute! Seriously, a parachute is a fairly inexpensive investment for large gatherings of children of all ages. Practicalmomma owns one thanks to her kid’s fitness classes, but recommends one for any parent. They can be purchased on Amazon or other online retailers for less than $30, and they should last you several seasons. Remember that organized activities for the under-4 set are likely to cause more stress for the parents than the enjoyment the children derive from them. Find activities that don’t require “rules,” but emphasize group play.
You really want to capture those precious moments on film, right? After all, they’ll only be this little once. Unfortunately, the parent with the camera is often the parent that doesn’t get to “participate” in the party. Trying to serve food, make parent introductions, and prevent injuries (no, you may not jump off of that!) is enough work. Don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be. Practicalmomma suggests asking a friend with a photography hobby to attend as a favor and take photos. Not only do you get great pics and can still be involved in the party, but afterwards, you can make the photos available online to the parents of party guests. If your friend has a website or even just a Flickr account, they can use this to promote their “business” and possibly generate some new clients.
Are we planning for a natural disaster? No, not exactly, but there are elements to contend with, particularly in outdoor venues. You thought of the food, the decorations, the invites… but there’s much more! Though many of your guests may have planned for these contingencies as well, it is better to be safe than sorry. Make the following available to your guests and make sure you bring plenty of it: bug spray, sunscreen, band-aids, tissues, and hand sanitizer (don’t gasp yet, keep reading…)
If you live in the Southeast, as practicalmomma does, you know that as soon as the weather turns nicer, the bugs come out in full-force. Biting gnats, mosquitoes, no-see-ums… ugh! More than an annoyance, getting eaten alive can end a party pretty quickly. Bring bug spray! Bio Guard, Badger Bug Balm, and Cutter all make natural and chemical-free insect repellents that practicalmomma has found highly effective and non-irritating. Sunscreen. We were blessed with plenty of shade, but remember how quickly children’s skin burns. Ensure that the screen is mineral-based, for little people… Practicalmomma knows of at least three great ones: Episencial, Badger, and California Baby. Band-aids: need I explain? Tissues. Runny noses and boogies, as well as general messes, are commonplace with this age group.. Avoid parental embarrassment (let’s face it, toddlers don’t care) by giving parents something to wipe the kids’ faces with. Practicalmomma knows you’re probably wondering about that last one I mentioned– hand sanitizer. Isn’t that kind of controversial? No, not entirely… practicalmomma stocks Clean Well spray sanitizer for certain situations and suggests you do the same. Clean Well’s ingredients read like a spice cabinet’s labels (i.e. no chemicals, triclosan, etc), yet still kill 99.9% of germs.
Practicalmomma says do away with the thank you cards. Although I know Miss Manners would probably be aghast at such a suggestion, they are not practical! They cost you money, your guests and friends read them once, and then they promptly deposit them in the recycling bin (surely none of them end up in the trash, right?). Alternative idea: Have a few photos of the birthday party printed, preferably one showcasing each guest, if possible. Write a short thank-you on the back of the photo (hopefully showing their child having a ball at your child’s party) and give to the parents when you next see them (thus eliminating the need for stamps and envelope paper waste). This is a more memorable token and will likely be kept and possibly displayed, rather than add to the landfill.