The 10 Commandments of Birthday Parties

By Carol Band

1. Make the child feel special. A crown, a decorated bedroom door or a banner hanging outside the house all do the trick. Mom Laura Heffernon found an old wooden chair, painted it gold, glued on plastic gemstones and it has become “the birthday throne,” where the child sits for his or her birthday week.

2. Let the invitations reflect the excitement of the party.

3. Put a new twist on old games by adding a thematic or wacky element: Limbo under a pirate flag, pass the princess crowns instead of hot potato.

4. Have fun. If it isn’t the social event of the season, so what? Relax. Nothing kills fun faster than a parent who is obviously stressed out.

5. Plan, plan, plan. Make sure you know how to play every game and that you have everything that you need readily accessible at party time. Have a written schedule outlining the activities in increments of 10 or 15 minutes.

6. Go with the flow. If a game is going well, don’t end it just because you’ve got another activity planned.

7. Let your child have the final word. Streamer colors, theme, chocolate or vanilla. Remember, it’s not your birthday.

8. Enlist help. If parents ask if they can stay, welcome them with open arms. Provide a simple snack. For older children, hire a teenage helper or bribe a friend to stay and pour juice, help mop up spills and monitor games or man the video camera.

9. Plan more activities than you need.

10. Remember the Three S’s: Keep it simple, safe and short.