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How to Throw a No-Stress Kids Birthday Party


Johnny turned eight last week! I knew that I needed to keep his birthday party simple because there is a lot going on this month in our house. He and I did some brainstorming, and we came up with a zero-stress kids birthday party that was a big hit with my son, his sisters, and Johnny’s friends! Here is what we did:

How to Throw a No-Stress Kids Birthday Party

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Keep the Guest List Small

I throw my kids birthday parties as a way of helping them build relationships with kids they especially like and as opportunities for them to work on social graces. Birthday parties give kids the opportunity to play host, and to express gratitude for their friends. Small parties provide the most opportunities for genuine relationship building, and they keep the pressure low so that both parents and children can enjoy the event.

Hold the Party at Home

A successful home party should feel a lot like a glorified play date – relaxed, with some fun activities, and also with down time for the kids to play however they like. Here in California, park birthday parties are also popular choices. They have a very relaxed feel, but do not offer as much opportunity for kids to practice playing host. An added benefit of having the party at home is that, if a parent is late to pick up at the end you are already home, so the child waiting to be picked up simply enjoys a slightly extended play date.

Keep the Agenda Simple

Simple is best for birthday parties, I find! Here is the agenda from Johnny’s eighth birthday party:

  • Make Qixels. The kids loved the Fuse Blaster and the Turbo Dryer, and since we did this activity first their creations were dry by the time it was time to go home.
  • Make Soap. I used this glycerine soap that you melt in the microwave. We then added food coloring before pouring it into these molds (I wish I would have thought to also pull out these LEGO molds. These Star Wars molds would also be a hit!). Some kids stuck one of these erasers in the middle. This soap sets very quickly, so it is easy to pop it out and take it home.
  • Decorate Cupcakes. This is one of the activities we include at most of my kids’ birthday parties. The kids LOVE decorating their own cupcakes, and it saves me the time of decorating a cake.
  • Eat Cupcakes. This actually got combined with the decorating portion of the activity, particularly since nine-year-old Emma taught the kids to mash the cupcakes into their whipped cream frosting instead of using the whipped cream frosting to decorate the cupcakes.
  • Open Presents. This gets skipped at a lot of local birthday parties, but I like the tradition. It teaches the birthday child to express gratitude and appreciation, and I know that my kids LOVE seeing their friends react to the gifts they give.
  • Play LEGO. Johnny and his friends all enjoy legos right now, so this was an easy end-of-party activity. Magna-Tiles and DUPLO bricks have also been a hit in the past – including at parties for older kids.

The soap and Qixels crafts doubled as the “goody bags” the kids took home at the end of the party.

What are your top tips for throwing a no-stress kids birthday party?

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

6 thoughts on “How to Throw a No-Stress Kids Birthday Party”

  1. You did A LOT of activities during his birthday! I think that is the key to a good party; keep the kids busy! I like the variety of crafts and play too!

    How was soap making? I’ve always wanted to try that but it looks hard to me!

  2. Such great ideas! And I love your emphasis on having the birthday party as an opportunity to practice social graces.

  3. These are GREAT tips! For me, I try to think of foods that can be prepared ahead of time so that everything is ready the day of the party. If I have to do a lot of cooking the day of, I usually get more stressed out.

  4. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    Great ideas for an easy birthday party. So far we’ve done ours elsewhere – perhaps next year?

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