LoveToKnow Kids turned to kids' birthday party expert, Laura Torres, for the latest party planning tips.
About Laura Torres
As the mother of six children, Laura has planned many parties. In addition to being a party planning expert, Laura Torres is also the author of several best-selling books for preteens and young adults. Nicknamed the "Queen of Tween," Laura worked as an editor at both American Girl magazine and Klutz press. Some of Laura's books include:
- Crossing Montana
- November Ever After
- Beads: A Book of Ideas and Instructions
- Ten-Minute Crafts for Preschoolers
- Friendship Bracelets
For a more complete list of Laura's books, visit her site.
Craft Party Kits
After repeatedly hearing that customers were using the books as a basis for birthday parties, Laura decided to combine the two loves. "The relief on some of the mom's faces that there was something easy and fun to craft in a group that their kids loved, really got me thinking that I could be helpful in party planning," she explains. She now sells complete craft-based party kits at wholeparties.com. With themes like Pirate Party, Best Friends Forever, and Pizza Party for Nine, the kits come complete with:
"They're parties that your friends will wonder how you were so creative and brilliant, yet everything's right there for you," she explains. "All you have to provide is the perishable items."
Kids' Birthday Party Basics
LTK: What is the biggest mistake parents make in kids' birthday party planning?
LT: Inviting too many kids. It's really not necessary to invite the entire first-grade to a birthday party. Also, planning something too complicated, or not planning enough to do. There's a happy medium that works perfectly.
LTK: What is the most important aspect of party planning?
LT: Staying flexible if things don't go according to plan. The kids might not want to do anything but play with the balloons and eat cake. That's OK. You can skip the elaborate game if the kids are having fun.
LTK: If a parent has a tight party budget, in what area should she focus her spending?
LT: On a craft, because it does double-duty. It provides an activity and then doubles as a really great take-home party favor. It also adds an extra dimension to your party theme if you choose the craft carefully. Just add some balloons, games that don't require things that you don't already have around the house, and cupcakes made from a mix.
LTK: What types of entertainment do you recommend for kids' birthday parties?
LT: I'm not into hiring entertainment at all. Kids don't need it, and it's an unnecessary expense. The exception would be if you went to a party and saw an entertainer that was over-the-top great and is in your budget. Sometimes the best entertainment was free. The fire station across the street where I used to live used to do free birthday tours for kids and they got plastic fire hats at the end and got to try on the equipment. What's better than that?
LTK: What are the most popular themes for toddler and preschool parties?
LT: Dinosaurs, princess, animals, pirate and whatever media character is popular at the moment.
LTK: What do you recommend for school-age kids?
LT: Craft-based parties, but make sure the crafts are age-appropriate and recognize that some kids are going to want to spend a lot of time on the craft and some are just going to slap it together and want to run around, so plan for both.
LTK: Since you are the "Queen of Tween," what recommendations do you make for preteen parties?
LT: A sleepover is always exciting at this age, but limit it to four or five girls, or boys, at the most. Anything bigger, and you'll likely have some drama. Plan a regular party for the evening after dinner. Providing dinner as well as the party is unnecessary, and an unnecessary expense if you're on a budget, unless you want to do some take-and-bake pizzas or have some delivered. Then provide age-appropriate movies with some light snacks, and then impose a lights-out time, or else get some earplugs and offer a quiet sleeping room for kids who want to actually sleep.
LTK: Is there anything else you would like to add?
LT: Don't let a kid's birthday party stress you out. Just plan ahead, and then roll with it and have fun yourself!