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Like parenting isn't hard enough, we have somehow raised the bar of our children's birthday parties to the point where an innocent party becomes a major stress attack. Have no fear I say, it's all self-imposed stress that is about to get the boot if you know what's good for you! So read on and let me tell you what I think.
I have two children five and six. I have a few years of birthday parties under my belt and I feel confident that I can speak about children's parties at this point. My disclaimer is that I believe that as children grow and mature their needs, interests, and desires change so this topic of children's birthday parties is a moving target.
Having said that, if your child is seven or younger, what I'm about to say will hopefully give you a permission slip to keep it sweet and simple for as long as you can.
So here it goes: My top 5 tips on birthday parties for kiddies...
1. The gift of experience is heads and tails more memorable to a child than the cutest, most adorable party favors. I have found that when all is said and done kids just want to play! Whether it's a trip to the fire station, the zoo, a great park even a Farmers Market - it's all about having fun. You may knock yourself out decorating, shopping, cooking - but to a child, it will go unnoticed. That's when you have to ask yourself who is this party really for?
2. The most anticipated, coveted and desired thing for a child on their birthday is the birthday 'Cake'!!!
I used to have my kids cakes made by my all-time favorite cake maker - they were gorgeous! Until one day my three year old said "mommy I want a rainbow cake and I want you to make it!" So now I'm a baker, and can I tell you something - that cake meant so much to him...it was a big ah-ha moment for me. Now I only make my own birthday cakes. They are far from perfect, but they are made with love.
3. Keep it short and small. Kids don't have the capacity for tremendous amounts of stimulation like we do. They get tired and cranky quickly and start acting out when they get overwhelmed. Keep the party under two hours and invite just a handful of their favorite friends. You will give them a sense of familiarity and confidence that they can handle themselves in social situations that will payoff in the long run.
4. Open gifts after the party is over. Now this might seem outrageous but I'm telling you if your child opens all their gifts at the same time they will barely remember what they've gotten the next day. Not only that, but more than likely something gets broken, lost or damaged with all the little ones running around. In our house we dole out the gifts one at a time over the week so each gift gets its deserved full attention and appreciation.
5. Ignore criticism. If there is anyone who dares to judge or criticize you for not going 'all out' for your little one's birthday - just remember this....you love your child so much that you are choosing to focus on only the things that will make him/her happy.
This is not a contest or a competition - it is about celebrating the day this beautiful soul was born and the gift they are in your life. By creating a party where they feel loved and happy you are tending to the precious needs of your child. For everyone else - Let 'em eat cake!
Liza Utter is an award winning celebrity restaurateur and beloved host. Her unique gift for making people feel welcome and bringing life to any party has earned her an expert reputation as being one of America’s most sought after hosts. For more tips on entertaining, visit http://www.LizaAmericasHost.com or follow her at http://Twitter.com/LizaUtter.