August is a very busy month around here; within six weeks there are seven birthdays in our immediate family. We have to budget for this time of year like we do for Christmas! It is also a lot of fun, though, because everyone has such different tastes that each celebration is very different unique. In an effort to get back to regular content here I would like to walk you through my creative process during the party planning phase.
The first thing you have to decide for any party, other than the date of your event, is the theme. For my son’s birthday in April we had a very specific them. Being a six year old boy he decided quite firmly on a Lego Batman party; regular Batman would not do. The nice folks at Lego cancelled that line of toys several years ago, making this initially seem sort of tricky but it turned out to be a lot of fun.
I enjoy every aspect of planning a party(except perhaps the cleaning house before guests arrive bit) so this is a fun time for me. I will spend weeks thinking about what can and cannot work, and what my budget is and how to achieve a great event within it. One of the more formal aspects of a party, the invitation can also be a very expenive one. There are whole businesses based on printing custom invitations. Luckily, in our current computer age it is now pretty simple to achieve a professional look at home. It is less expensive to buy stationary and print it on your computer than to have some one else do it, and surprisingly simple. Unfortunately for our Lego Batman party no suitable stationary existed.
That’s okay, though. The internet is chock full of all sorts of things, including pictures of pretty much every character in the Lego Batman game. A few minutes brainstorming on the wording, a cut and paste here and there and we had a lovely invitation. They were printed in color on cardstock at Kinkos for a very reasonable price. The best part? Our son and his friends were delighted! My only tip for doing taking this completely from scratch route is to make sure that you have envelopes to match the size of your invitation.
Our other nod to having a Lego Batman party was to use the same cute Lego character images to creat a Lego Batman Bingo game, based on Loteria, a Mexican game of chance, much like Bingo. Loteria uses images instead of numbers and a deck of cards instead of ping pong balls. This worked out great for a party aimed at kids age six and under, most of whom cannot read yet but have no problem identifying Batman, Robin, Riddler and crew. Lego pieces made the perfect game counters. We used a bag of store bought Batman party favors as prizes for the winner of each game played. Each game went very quickly and everyone won several times, which encouraged the kids to keep playing. It was a lot of fun, and a party activity that I would highly reccomend for all ages
Cake and decorations are a must at any party, of course. Like invitations, decorations can be one of the hidden costs of any party. You can save money here by sticking with simple solid colored paper goods instead of buying the more expensive ones that might match your theme. I chose yellow and black plates, a solid yellow tablecloth, yellow and black balloons to be cheap (we blew them up) and then “splurged” on Batman napkins to help tie it all together. Another hidden party cost, for kids at least, are the party favors. For this party we bought an age appropriate Batman comic book for each guest and also provided bags of cookie that I had made. Everyone was thrilled with their goodies, we gave very little plastic junk away and promoted reading! Win-win.
So there you have it: the theme makes the party. A theme can be incredibly elaborate or as simple as just picking what colors you want to use. I’d say this Batman party was somewhere on the scale closer to simple than elaborate, though I’ll admit to going all out on the cookies. I was playing to my strengths there, and just having fun…which could be a handy bit of advice, too.
Over the next month watch for more ideas, as well as recipes for cupcakes, cakes and cookies, as we pull together a Mickey and Minnie Mouse birthday party for a three year old, and a Super Mario party for someone who’s a good bit older!