Archives for February 2011

How to Party: Birthday’s to REMEMBER

I’m a HUGE fan of birthdays. (Why celebrate for a day when you can celebrate for a month?) This doesn’t mean a big amount of money has to be spent on birthday parties each year.

We just celebrated the twins first birthday. Complete with food, decorations and prizes with 25 adults and 20 children we spent around $225 or just under $5 per guest.

I got the idea for a first letter themed party off the internet (where else!?!?) and loved how it turned out.

The theme ran through everything, including the shirts we made for them to wear, invites, decorations, the games we played and the little H and C cakes I made, complete with the best homemade baby icing you ever tasted (no sugar — just 2 parts cream cheese mixed to 1 part maple syrup and of course some coloring to make the cakes pretty.)

For our older kids now eight and ten, we tend to cycle between smaller parties with a few friends to bigger ones every few years. There are pluses and minuses to big parties, small parties, parties held at home and parties held outside the home (often at a rental place where alot of the work is done for you.)

With so many choices, let me walk you through our party planning process:

1) THEME: When picking a theme, be guided by a) your budget b) whether you want to have the party INSIDE or OUTSIDE your home and c) your child’s interests.

Smaller parties with one to three friends gives you a bigger budget per guest. Ideas: sleep overs, six flags, the movies, spa day, paint ball, sports games, music.

Big parties might be fun on big birthdays like turning five, ten or for baby’s first b-days. Ideas: Plan a themed party at home or rent a party room with a flat rate or low per guest fee. Ideas: Any number of bounce places you might have around town, favorite place your child likes to visit like the zoo, indoor or outdoor pool, a “kid-friendly” museum or other fun place in your city.

AN EASY way to pick a theme is to think, what is my child into lately? If they are one, it might be fun to build a party around a favorite board book. One mom I know had a party for her three year old built around “The Hungry Caterpillar”, complete with butterfly wing making craft, games to play while wearing ones new wings, foods from the book and a reading of the famous board book to end the “butterfly” party which she held outside in their garden. The ideas here are endless from “The Little Engine That Could” all the way to Harry Potter.

2- Invites
Have fun with this! To really drive home the THEME of your party, make them with your child. If you use the online resources that are available to us all, the options are endless (and most likely FREE.) For example, just by searching google my friend found this site that helps you make a custom concert ticket which would make a great rock ‘n roll party invitation. Another idea is to create your invite with Evite. They have hundreds of different themes/backgrounds that are super easy to customize. Once you’ve selected your invitation template and fill it out, you can either email it out or if your children are like mine and they want to be able to hold them in their lil hands, print them and pop them in the mail.

Get your little guests excited about the party by listing details. For example, instead of just “Swim Party” try “SWIM PARTY!!! The pool has a Laser Slide and a wave pool!” And being creative doesn’t cost anything more and adds alot of fun and excitement – EXAMPLE: for a swim party, tape each invite to beach ball from the Dollar Store to be left at each guest’s door.

3- Planning the Party
This part is easy when you have a strong theme working for you. Think food, games/small prizes and at least one crafty/creative activity which can ALSO double as the party favors/take home gift. Let your theme do the work!!! Little touches go a long way with kids. And again, remember, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Example: For a rock n Roll party, the kids can make guitars out of paper, cardboard and some colored chalks which they then get on “stage” with and lip sink to their favorite songs. For almost any themed party, a scavenger hunt can be organized with the list of items to be found created around the party’s theme and hidden around the house for party goers to find, etc.

4- Thank You Notes


I think it’s important for kids to learn to write thank you notes after receiving birthday gifts starting at a very young age. By age 2 they can just doodle on them. By age 4 you can write or type a basic thank you note to which they can sign their name to each. And as they get older, by around six or seven, they can begin to write a short note on each. Example: “I love the truck you gave me.”

Including a photo of the kids at the party is always a nice touch.

I have a zillion more tips but have to draw the line somewhere or this post will go on for PAGES! Plus, I’d rather hear from you. Tell me, what was the best party you’ve ever thrown with your kids? What made it special? Do you have any tips to share on how you make celebrating birthdays special in your home?

How to Tell… is your life happy or interesting?

I was having a fascinating discussion at BlissDom with Esther and Brené about Penelope’s post on happy versus interesting. Penelope’s conclusion is that “people need to choose between an interesting life and a happy life.”

And it got me to thinking… are these two concepts really diametrically opposed — at two ends of a spectrum?

I think I’m pretty happy. And I think I have a pretty interesting life. I’m almost certain that most people who know me would agree with BOTH those statements. What do you think, Zen Mommy? (Is it because I used the word “pretty” three times?)

Is it that your life can’t be interesting and happy in the exact same moment? Okay, so when I was interestingly transplanting my existence from one side of the world to the other at age 13, was I unhappy? No. I was happy. Or when I uninterestingly choose to do NOTHING and not leave my room for four days in a row, am I unhappy? No, I’m really good with that too.

Am I for real?!

Honestly, part of my definition of happiness includes interesting. According to Gallup’s Strengths Finder, I have Input, Learner and Maximizer in my Strengths profile, which means that not only do I want to continuously learn and improve but that I focus on stimulating personal and group excellence. Penelope links happy with complacency. I link happy with interesting… #interesting

So just from my poll of one… that being my own personal experience, I have to call shenanigans on her conclusion. You? Must YOU choose between happy and interesting? Or can you be both?

p.s. According to Penelope, I’m suspiciously well-balanced. :)

How to Measure a Year? Love

Here are our 525,600 minutes of life since the twins were born… condensed down to four. It’s true. What you remember from a year are the simple moments of everyday life filled with l-o-v-e.

And if you’ve NEVER heard the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent, enjoy this youtube.

On the next birthday that happens in your home, think back on the year and the moments that stand out for you. I’ll bet ‘ja they’re full of it (love I mean…)!!!

I’d love to hear about how you celebrate birthday’s in your home. If you have any cute pictures from your little one’s first birthday, upload them to our Gallery page. Just send them from your computer or phone to person55while(@)photos(.)flickr(.)com with the email subject line as your picture’s title.

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Suzanne Tucker, publisher of MyMommyManual.com and co-creator of YogaParenting, an online course helping parents create more joy and less stress in parenting.