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10 Ways to Simplify Kids' Birthday Parties for Once & for All

Big Kid Judy Dutton Mar 10, 2015

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Kids' birthday parties have spiraled completely out of control! Between compiling the goodie bags and hiring the clowns, it's no wonder parents age 10 years for every party they agree to throw for their precious little ones.

Well, enough of all that! It's time to turn the tide and make kids' parties easy again. Here are a few ways to curb the chaos without sacrificing on the fun front.

How do you simplify kids' birthday parties?

 

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1Serve Cupcakes Instead of Cake

"For some reason, this simple advice
 makes a huge difference," says Helen Holden, founder of birthday planning site Counting Candles. "When you have cake, it needs to be cut, kids get 
upset if their piece is too big or too small or if they get a side piece or
 a center piece." But since cupcakes are all the same, problem solved! Plus, there's no need for plates, forks, and all that business.

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2Have Kids Create Their Own Goodie Bags

Many moms dread the double-whammy prospect of planning a fun party activity AND filling goodie bags … so why not combine the two? "The best way to simplify kids parties is to combine things, like have one of the activities become a party favor as well," says 


event planner Alicia Smith. "For instance, for one of our parties, the kids painted t-shirts that they could take home." Or set up a station where kids can create their own necklaces, picture frames, or superhero capes. Stuff their creation in a bag and you've killed two birds with one stone.

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3Curb the Number of Guests

"Parents shouldn't need to feel they need to invite every child in the kid's class, school, or neighborhood," says event planner Greg Jenkins. We know it's awkward if certain kids find out they were left out, but if it's really small (like just your child's five closest friends), there's less of a reason for those not invited to take it personally. As long as the reason behind your delineation is clear, hurt feelings can be avoided. For instance, "consider inviting either all boys or all girls," says Jenkins. "This is a good way to reduce the guest list, without 'ruffling feathers' of those who were not invited."

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4Cut Down on Decorations

Streamers AND balloons AND banners AND hats AND favors? Overkill. "Some people think the more the merrier but
 sometimes all you need is a cohesive color scheme of two colors," says Holden. "Even just 
tablecloths and a couple balloons are fine; the theme will shine through 
in the plate ware and the activities. You don't need tons of streamers and 
banners. You can also confine the decorations to the dessert table with a 
nice solid hanging tablecloth as the backdrop.
"

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5Space Your Party Between Meals

Since serving up a full lunch, brunch, or dinner is a huge investment of time and resources, plan your party squarely between them (like from 10 a.m. to noon, or 2 to 4 p.m.) to save yourself the hassle, suggests parenting expert Brenda Priddy from Schooling a Monkey.

More from The Stir: 10 Wackiest Demands Parents Have Made of Birthday Party Guests

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6Keep The Food Easy

If you do decide to feed your guests a full meal, make it easy on yourselves. "Instead of trying to create cuisine in party theme shapes, just call your local pizza place and have them deliver pizzas, or serve hot dogs with potato chips," says Jenkins. Remember, this is a kid's party -- they don't care about fancy fare!

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7Have Kids Prepare Their Own Food

Rather than slave over preparing a ton of food and sweets, put the kids to work by having them create their own pizzas or decorate their own cupcakes, suggests Holden. This also doubles as an activity, so you've just occupied their time with some entertainment to boot!

More from The Stir: 5 Kids' Birthday Party Food Etiquette Questions -- Answered!

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8Hold the Party at a Park or Playground

If the weather is nice, bringing your party outdoors saves you hassles on a number of fronts: 1) your kids won't need an activity since they can just climb the monkey bars or swing on swings, and 2) "it is not as critical to have the exact head count as when
 you hold the party at a venue that charges by the head," says Holden. "[Outdoor play parties reduce] the
 stress of chasing guests down who haven't RSVP'd." If you're afraid the kids will be bored, bring some sports equipment like Frisbees and footballs, or rent a bouncy house for instant entertainment.

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9Show a Movie

If you're going for simple party entertainment, forget about hiring clowns, magicians, or puppeteers. Instead, just pop in a DVD. "It will take up at least an hour of time and keep the kids entertained," says Ryan Schoenleber from Party Cheap. This works particularly well if you've picked a popular movie theme for your party -- you can show, say, Finding Nemo for a beach theme, Frozen or any Disney option for your little princesses. You get the idea!

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10Hire a Sitter

Sounds weird cause you're home, but it can truly be a sanity saver to have an extra pair of hands to assist in entertaining the kids, serving up food, and doing general damage control, says therapist and party planner Jane Johnson. Consider it money well spent!

More from The Stir: 7 Kid Birthday Party Etiquette Rules -- For Parents

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