OK, friends, here's the last in my trio of birthday simplification blog posts! Today I want to address some new general thoughts I had on simplifying birthday parties, continuing the theme of last year's minimalist birthday parties post (where I address motivation, timing, gifts, decoration, and task management). Here are 7 ways to simplify birthday parties; even the small tweaks help enormously!
1. Keep food super simple. I am prone to over-preparing when it comes to food but this year I kept it super simple: pizza, drink pouches and water, and grapes. Not even kidding, I was going to make a fruit salad and then I realized making a fruit salad would involve a last minute grocery run I didn't want to make. Instead, I already had tons of grapes in the fridge and figured hey, no utensils necessary = a small but awesome win!
2. Keep the guest list manageable. Certainly, Laurel could have (and wanted to) invite many more friends but I asked her to keep it small. Six friends joined us for the party and it was plenty festive. We've talked a lot about the idea that the less people, the more involved the party can be. I suspect next year she will want a sleepover party, in which case, the guest list will probably be 2-3 kids.
3. Keep the party outside. Obviously, the ability to do this is weather dependent. We had an indoor plan but managed to keep the kids out in the backyard for the entire party thanks to the trio of activities. It was so awesome to not have the house get trashed!
4. Make activity = party favor. I wrote about tchotchke-free party favors yesterday. Seriously, THE BEST. Make sure you read the comments on that post; even more brilliant ideas from fellow readers.
5. Say no. If your kid is older, they will probably have expansion ideas. It's perfectly fine to say no. Whenever Laurel came to me with additional ideas, my response was, "If you can make that happen, go for it, but I just can't take on more to-do's right now." She was totally fine with it. And then I didn't feel resentful since I stood up for my time.
6. Continually edit your to-do list. This year's party was so awesomely easy, thanks to my continual to-do list editing. Last year I wrote about prioritizing items due to fun level and this year I found that every time I had a new idea (vs. #5 above) I evaluated whether it was truly necessary and pretty much all of the time it wasn't. For example, the party was still totally festive and fun, even though I struck helium balloons off my list.
7. Enlist your kids to help. I'm a big proponent of incorporating kids into everyday tasks and the same goes for special occasions. Violet helped mix the rainbow frosting colors and Laurel helped make the cupcakes, tidy the house the day of the party, and fill the candy cups for the cupcake decorating activity. Both girls helped mix the chalk paints.
Do you have other ideas for simplifying birthday parties? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below! I was so happy to hear this week from a reader that they found great happiness in adopting the playground party idea Asha and I shared in Minimalist Parenting. So fantastic!