10 Tips for Throwing a Kid's Birthday Party Adults Will Love (PHOTOS)

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  • 1. Ditch the licensed characters.

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    Many kids go nuts for the characters from their favorite movies or shows. But a party plastered with those likenesses not only alienates adults -- but also reads like a cookie-cutter affair interchangeable from one kid in the neighborhood to the next. “Nothing screams kids' party louder than the friendly faces from Nick Jr.,” Granger-Twomey says. “If your 3-year-old is obsessed with a certain explorer, think about how you would create a party for Dora.”

  • 2. Choose but don't overuse the details.

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    A theme for a kid’s birthday party doesn’t have to mean one idea repeated in every detail ad nauseam. “Understatement is key to sophistication,” Granger-Twomey says. “Choose a focused color palette that evokes the look, and accent it with grown-up patterns.” 

  • 3. Broaden the guest list.

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    While having young kids often means growing a community of families in similar stages of life, consider that a party can be much more fun when it includes a diverse range of guests. “Don't be afraid to celebrate your kids with your kid-free friends,” Granger-Twomey says. “Be sure to include ‘and family’ [on the invitation] when inviting your kid’s schoolmates. This way it's clear that parents and siblings are welcome, and parents aren't left to scramble for childcare [for] their other children.”

  • 4. Serve adult-friendly fare.

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    "What would you serve the adults if they came without their children?" Granger-Twomey encourages hosts to ask themselves. "Think past the pizza, cupcakes, and juice boxes." 

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  • 5. Serve a kid-friendly option too!

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    "If you're worried that the littles won't chow down on your Greek feast," says Granger-Tworney, "be sure to have a simple kid-pleasing option.”

  • 6. Serve booze, too!

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    And sure, no one under the age of 21 will be drinking on your watch -- but why should grown-ups have to miss out on the chance to relax and indulge? “Please, please, please serve alcohol!” Granger-Twomey says. “Beers and a champagne cocktail will please the whole adult crowd.” 

  • 7. Hire entertainment for the kids.

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    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    If the budget allows, consider an entertainer — one who’s actually good — to occupy the kids … and allow the parents a bit of hands-free time to enjoy the fete themselves with their friends. “I've always known that a good entertainer takes a party next level, but recently I learned the value first hand: At my daughters' last birthday party, the top-notch magician kept 15 four-year-olds engaged for over an hour! I looked around to see all of the parents of those kiddos enjoying either a drink or a plate of food or both. Priceless!” Unfortunately, of course, quality entertainers do actually come with a price. But it might be worth it to rearrange your budget to make it work.

  • 8. Think outside the (big) box for favors.

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    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    When parents have school-aged kids, they may find every weekend seemingly occupied with a kid’s birthday party -- and that often means collecting endless trinkets as party favors. Sure, kids enjoy them -- but they’re a burden of clutter on parents, and they’re quickly forgotten anyway. “While cute erasers are fun, the plastic trinkets seem to multiply. Consider an experience such as [a gift certificate for] $5 to a local ice cream shop for a scoop, art supplies, or honey sticks for a forest- or bear-themed party,” Granger-Twomey suggests. “Recently we created custom artwork and had posters printed for under $2 a pop. They were a hit!”

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  • 9. Consider an evening affair.

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    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    Of course, kids have early bedtimes, and that’s why their parties are traditionally around the lunch hour. That makes sense, but a birthday is a special occasion, and an evening bash can set it apart for all the guests. “While this can be a scandalous choice for guests accustomed to only having kids parties between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., there's something more magical in the evening,” Granger-Twomey says. “Inevitably you'll have a few concerned about cake so close to bedtime, so why not eat cake first?”

  • 10. Be Brave

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    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    Summing up her attitude about kids’ parties overall, Granger-Twomey says: “Be brave [enough] to go against the kid mold. Remember that your kids will love any party that you throw them!”

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