Thanks friends for the lovely words about Zeb's party! I have had a couple of "How do you do it?" comments, so I thought I might share 'how I do it', with some tips and things that I've learnt in my limited years of non-professional party planning!
2. As my kids get older they get to choose the theme and give ideas for what they'd like. I usually give them a few ideas to choose from, otherwise you will possibly get a princess/pirate party every year! Or, if your kids are like mine, they might insist on a 'rock' party (no, not a 'rock n roll' party, a pebble/stone/boulder party)! That one would've stretched my imagination a little too far!
3. I write up my ideas and make invitations about a month ahead of the party. That way I can pick up/ make bits and pieces when I'm in the shop/ mood, instead of having to do a 'big' shop or lots of crafting in the last week.
4. There is an 'over-the-top' line which I try not to cross. I do this by allowing a few aspects of the party to shine and leaving the other things very simple or pared back. I usually limit my decorating to the one room/area that the food table is in. I have one (if any) organised games or activities. I have on only light background music. I don't make a big deal about gift opening time. I don't want the kids/guests to be overstimulated, or cranky, or on a low after a party.
5. I do always go crazy with the food. But I'm like that in non-party life too! Good and fun food brings people together. Which brings me to...
6. Money. Invitations, decorating, costumes etc always cost very little for me as I like to make these myself, on the cheap. Food makes up 90% of our party budget. But our party budget probably makes up 75% of our birthday budget. Yes, on the years that the kids have a party (every second year), we just buy them a small birthday gift. The party, the people and the celebration is the main gift to our kids. I'd say we probably end up spending less than most people do on their children's birthdays.
7. I always need help. For Zeb's birthday, my sister Clare created his first year movie, my sister Lauren helped with baking and creating the cake, my brother Brett took photos (which I never have time for at parties), and my Mum and Dad babysat for me. Thankyou, thank you, thank you to my family for this!
8. My final and most important tip is that the party is for the children! I do what I can for the party, but never at the expense of my kids moods. If I am trying to decorate a cake, and Zeb is hanging off my legs wanting a cuddle, I stop and cuddle. If India is tired and upset, I won't go out and run the errands I had planned to. This usually means that some things you wanted to do, don't get done. But of course the kids don't care about that, they just want a fun and memorable day.
And so do I!