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And Breathe – stress-free party planning

And Breathe…..Stress free party planning

Let’s face it, it’s a great feeling when the party is finally over, all those last minute adrenalin-fuelled moments of panic meant it all fell into place and you can finally sit back, feet up and not think about whether, say, Jessica has replied, and if not, will she still turn up at the very last minute like she did last year smiling and expectant, and you have to raid your carefully organised party bags for bits and pieces to give her so she doesn’t go home empty handed.

But, especially when organising children’s parties, the thought of next year is unlikely to go away completely, despite all the distractions of daily life.  Not least because most kids like to mull over the many and varied possibilities for their next birthday, changing their minds on a regular basis.  Swimming party, anyone?  Cupcake baking?  Cupcake baking in a limo?

So, what are the best ways to make it as smooth easy, and stress-free as planning a party for 30 ten year old boys possibly can be?

Let’s assume most of us won’t be employing a Party Planner a la Jennifer Lopez, but will be doing it all with the help of friends and family, and, of course, the birthday boy or girl themselves.  Lucy Sheridan, Life Coach and CEO of Proof Coaching www.proofcoaching.com suggests you ‘start with the end in mind – but not with your guests leaving!’  So give some thought about kind of party you wish to create. ‘Measure your preparations against that and you’re not working blind’ Lucy says.  That’s great advice.  Basically, it’s all in the planning.

Here are some more hot tips to make it as stress-free process as possible:

  • Keep a list In other words, be organised.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But, let’s face it, we’ve all done it from time to time, left things until the last minute.  It’s so easily done, we all have busy lives.  But, if you have a list you know exactly what there is to do, and if you are super-organised, when you should do it too. So, you might have a ‘to do’ list – send out invitations, book venue and entertainer.  And a shopping list – party bags, party bag fillers, food, drinks, tablecloths, balloons, all those party essentials.
  • Choose a theme (and stick to it) Well, encourage your child to do so.  Who hasn’t groaned at the decision to switch from Disney Princesses to a Barbie theme at the 11th hour?  So, just as you are about to ‘proceed to checkout’ with your pre-filled party bags and other supplies (link to party things) you have to empty your basket and start all over again.  So have all those discussions early on.
  • Get your invitations out early and chase those who haven’t RSVP’d – in the nicest possible way, of course.  Try and be sensitive about invitations – if you’re not inviting the whole class, but just a select few of your child’s close friends, maybe try not to hand invitations out at school.  It’s never too early to learn the essentials of party etiquette!
  • Keep it simple especially where party food is concerned.  You know what it’s like – you put on a veritable feast of homemade goodies and the kids eat a giant bowlful of crisps and nothing else.  Buy food boxes (link to party things website), one per child and fill them with a sandwich, a drink, a piece of fruit, some veggies and a sweet and savoury treat.  Check with your guests that there aren’t any allergies, and if there are, the ‘box per child’ will enable you to tailor the food accordingly.
  • Try to enjoy the planning process Easier said than done, maybe, but you can have fun involving the kids, unless of course the party is a complete surprise.  So, if your son is pirate mad, it can be great fun doing stuff together – creating a treasure map, burying trinkets of treasure in the garden, and creating a sheet of coded clues for each guest, with carefully singed edges (done with adult supervision, obviously!).
  • Accept help You call up your child’s entertainer of choice, and they’re fully booked until 2016.  Typical.  And then you remember Maisie’s Dad’s turn as Coco the Clown at a party last summer, and he did a grand job – there’s nothing he likes more than to don his water-squirting bow-tie, out-sized boots and make balloon animals for hours.  So, go on, give him a call!
  • Set yourself a budget – and keep a record of what you’ve spent as you go along.  It’s so easy to get carried away when party planning, buying little things here and there.  If you set yourself an upper cost limit, and stick to it, it will help throughout the planning process.  It will determine, for a children’s party, the number of guests your child can invite – work out a cost per head, for say, 15 children, and work within that.

And Enjoy!  After all, you won’t need to go through the process again for almost another year….

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