Planning parties is fun but it’s a big effort. The first party I ever threw was for Ella’s first birthday and I spent months (I know, I know) thinking of ideas, googling inspiration, and agonizing over every detail. With every event I’ve put together since then, I’ve really tried to turn this passion into a skill. There is a specific way I like to throw a party, almost like a party philosophy I’ve developed during the past three years. There are the logistical needs, like a guest list and a menu, and then there are the more personalized elements that really make it a curated experience. It takes a lot of work and love and since I’m in the middle of planning Ella’s 4th birthday, here’s my guide to throwing a TCK Birthday Party.
I always start by making three lists: things to do, things to get, and things to make.
Make guest list
Pick a date
Plan a menu and dessert
Create a theme
- This is the most fun part. I think it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want or feel comfortable doing. One hack is to use items from your child’s nursery/room decor. Another is just to pick an animal and a color scheme. I did all three for Ella’s first birthday. It’s fun with Ella now because I can ask her what she wants and we can come up with things together.
Plan party activity
- I’ll be honest. I hate this part! I don’t know what kids like to do or what will flow seamlessly during a party. I’ve been lucky that what I’ve planned in the past has worked out but this is the most stressful thing for me, for sure. I think crafts are always the safest bet.
Materials for activity
- My great stress and love is how I’m going to decorate the party. I image the layout and where everyone will be and decorate in spots that will be noticed without being in the way. And of course, everything must be in service of the theme and celebrating the birthday girl/boy.
- Birthday parties are great for putting things together that are too whimsical and impractical for every day decor. The food table can be the perfect display for all your grander ideas.
- I always have pictures of my kids displayed at their parties because you really get a sense of how they’ve grown and you’re celebrating another year with them. And they’re the best because they are personal, you can display them in so many different creative ways, and you keep them forever.
- I have almost zero artistic talent but I think making some things by hand is not only cost effective, but it adds something special to the party. By nature, it will be unique and imperfect which is exactly what motherhood is like.
- I always do what I call a “showstopper.” It’s the party’s centerpiece, the largest display of the theme and where your guests’ eyes should be drawn (besides the birthday boy/girl of course!) You can let your creativity shine through here, doing something completely unique to you and your little one.
So really for a TCK party, my essentials are the unique, creative elements. Photographs, a beautiful table, a showstopper, and something handmade. I really think that personal touches make a party. They’re not a trend or something expected; they’re unique to you and your family. I think those details will stay with your guests–putting a lot of planning into a party can make it feel stiff or forced so when you use your imagination and personalize as many details as possible, you’re left with just the love you feel for your child. The look of the party is important, sure, but above all it’s meant to be a fun family celebration.
I love planning birthday parties because they combine whimsy and sentiment. The effort and love you put into these first events will be a wonderful thread throughout your child’s celebrations. I hadn’t planned on doing a party for Ella this year but I was a little touched that she wanted one. Her third birthday party must have been a happy memory for her and that’s really how I know I’ve done what I set out to do each time. These parties are my love letters to Ella and Jack, those two little people who make everyday a celebration.