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First time hosting a birthday party, advice?


Moonhawk
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My daughter is turning 8.  Actually, today.  But the party will be later this month because no one was around thru the holidays to give invites to. This is our first birthday party that we will ever be doing.  I didn't like birthday parties as a kid (having or going).  We've gone to birthday parties for our kids' friends, but they have all been at jump party places, so I have no model.

 

Budget: $200 max, which rules out going to a place like a gym or pizza party place. Also, those are all 40+ minutes away, so not optimal to get people to go.  (One possible exception to this is a Peter Piper Pizza about 1/2 hr away, but I want to look at other options before going this route, it's not the cleanest place, though the kids did like the games there.)

 

So, we are planning for a park party, 2:30-5pm. Weather through the 19th looks good, so if I plan on the 15th (earliest weekend day we have open) then there is no chance of rain. The only other day open is the 29th. 

 

We are planning on a jumping castle (~$100).  This leaves $100 for food and decorations and gift bags.

 

Okay, so here are some questions that I am facing:

 

1) is scheduling for the 15th (when I give out invites this Friday the 6th) not enough notice? Should I schedule for the 29th instead, despite perhaps too much notice, chance of people forgetting, and no knowing a weather report?

 

2) if the party is 2:30-5, do I need to provide snack foods or something more?  Will chips, salsa, fruit tray, veggie tray, drinks + dessert suffice, or do I need to get a sub sandwich/pizza?

 

3) the park has a play area, a big grassy area, and we'll have the jumping castle.  Do I need to plan/provide games? How many/what do you suggest?

 

4) we essentially have $100 left in the budget.  What do I spend it on? Food and gift bags only, and forget decorating the ramada? Something else party-ish, like a popcorn machine rental? Am I forgetting something that I need to be providing for a party? (I have to find out the park rules for a piñata, there are trees but kind of old, idk if we are allowed to hang things on it)

 

5) where would you go to get your gift bag supplies, and what is typical to spend per kid? 

 

6) what have I forgotten?!?!?! 

 

7) should I just bring a lot of sanitary wipes and go to the Pizza place? after typing all this out, I feel overwhelmed already. :\  Should I give my daughter the option? 

 

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Don't over think.

 

You have plenty of food planned. With the park and bouncy house additional games aren't necessary but could be nice if the kids are wound up. Simple games like tag will be fine.

 

That should be enough notice.

 

You have plenty of food, kids won't be expecting a meal at that time.

 

 

I don't think you need anything else but piñata and decorations are fun. Let you daughter plan that part.

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1) is scheduling for the 15th (when I give out invites this Friday the 6th) not enough notice? Should I schedule for the 29th instead, despite perhaps too much notice, chance of people forgetting, and no knowing a weather report?10 days is Plenty of notice.  Make sure you call/email a day ahead of time as a reminder, even for those who RSVP because you will want a clear head count. 

 

2) if the party is 2:30-5, do I need to provide snack foods or something more?  Will chips, salsa, fruit tray, veggie tray, drinks + dessert suffice, or do I need to get a sub sandwich/pizza? Yes, to snacks.  If you end it at 420 it will be very clear that there is not a meal.  So if you want to do 2.5 hours, I would do 2pm to 430pm and write on the invite that light snacks are provided.  If you do pizza, what I like to do.....I order it double cut, so the pieces are smaller....or order it uncut and cut it into squares.

 

3) the park has a play area, a big grassy area, and we'll have the jumping castle.  Do I need to plan/provide games? How many/what do you suggest? I would do one organized game. Pin the tail on the donkey is such a classic and works well for kids to do over and over again if they want. At that age at a park I would likely buy a pile of hula hoops and toss them in the grass for them to play with. If you end up with a group of younger kids, and easy game to busy the littles with at a park is Duck Duck Goose.  The cheap balsa wood planes are fun for that age. Write names on them and let them take them home. Buy half again how many you need, because some will break. Ribbon sticks are good for encouraging running around and again can go home with them. You can order them cheap on Oriental Trading or the dollar store.  Plan some large blankets for people to sit on. Opened up sleeping bags are great for the park as they insulate the ground a bit and are somewhat water proof if the ground is damp.  They are more of a pain to wash though, so take that into consideration. 

 

4) we essentially have $100 left in the budget.  What do I spend it on? Food and gift bags only, and forget decorating the ramada? Something else party-ish, like a popcorn machine rental? Am I forgetting something that I need to be providing for a party? (I have to find out the park rules for a piñata, there are trees but kind of old, idk if we are allowed to hang things on it) Decorate with at least balloons and something that says Happy Birthday (HB baloons are fine).  That tells other park visitors that it is a private party and not a public event. Nothing too fancy needed.  I like plastic table cloths to cover the wood tables. I use packing tape to wrap/secure the corners due to wind blowing them off.

 

5) where would you go to get your gift bag supplies, and what is typical to spend per kid? I don't do gift bags. I buy something like Rolos  and make custom labels that say something like "Thanks for coming to DDs 8th birthday celebration".  And pass them out at the end.  It is cheap (a dollar a piece) and takes less than an hour. If I don't make labels I wrap them in various shades of tissue paper, twist on the ends with ribbon ties (imagine taffy style wrapping).  Rolos work perfect and are an easy candy to ration out or share with other people at home. Gift bags or treats are handed out as the child leaves, not before!  I put them in a box and don't get them out until I am ready to use them. Other wise they get set down/mixed up etc. Then some kid is crying about losing a certain color item or that someone stole their xyz.  My kids would almost always throw gift bags away after the party.  They weren't really into plastic tops and rings that people tend to put inside. 

 

6) what have I forgotten?!?!?!   Is the bounce house place providing an adult to run it?  If not, have one adult SOLELY responsible for it.  You will need to limit the number of kids in at one time and make sure they remove shoes etc.   Take a first Aid kit.  Take a case of water and a sharpie for names on the bottles.  Write the name of each kid on a bottle ahead of time and put them on a table.  Water bottles are cheap at stores like Costco and this step saves a lot of time later.   If you like to be creative, make cute name labels for the water bottles too.  FYI: Don't plan on putting them on ice if you make labels.  

 

7) should I just bring a lot of sanitary wipes and go to the Pizza place? after typing all this out, I feel overwhelmed already. :\  Should I give my daughter the option?  Sometimes the stress of a party, makes it totally not worth it. LOL I do not enjoy my kids parties.  They are a lot of work, but they love them so I do it for them. 

 

ETA: with any organized games, try to pick something that not everyone has to do at once.  That way some kids can be in the bounce house and some can play the game, and then switch.  I do not do prizes for games, it is to much to keep track of at the party.  That is why I like things like Pin the Tail on the Donkey (I make my own and customize it to the theme but you don't have to),  It isn't time sensitive and the kids enjoy playing over and over.  Even the kids who aren't good at sports have a good chance at winning.  :-)


ETA: if you are in a park, make sure you are within easy distance to the bathroom.  If parents don't stay with the kids, then another adult will need to be in charge of bathroom runs.  Arrange this with the adult that they will be the official potty parent, so there is no confusion when a child starts to do the potty dance in the middle of the birthday song.

 

ETA: OK, I officially have to much to say on this topic. LOL  Either do a cake that you can cut into small pieces or do small cupcakes (not the giant fancy ones). Kids eat small portions and then run to play.  Plan for extras in case anyone wants another, but otherwise you will have tons of waste.  Skip icecream or do cheap ice cream bars and buy dry ice to keep them cold. Scooped Ice cream is a pain in the park because it takes one adult to take care of it.  Bars make it easy because you can set out a box at a time or leave them in a cooler and the kids can help themselves.  put the dry ice in its own box so kids cant touch it. 
 

Edited by Tap
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Oh and for gift bags some people go all out. I've done no gift bags (my favorite!), dollar store, party store, a fancy cookie, and one year for a Lego themed party I bought a big bucket of logos and each kid got a set of directions and the legos to make that piece (I printed them online). If you are doing a pinata the candy is plenty.

 

I decide based on the budget and how many kids but less than $5 per kid.

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You are brave. When our kids were little we limited parties to 1.5 hours because there were always kids who arrived early and then some who were late being picked up...we always ended up with at least 2 hours of kids and that that was the limit for me. 

 

Your park lets you have a bounce house? Ours wouldn't because of liability issues..which is super annoying because they have a sledding hill with trees at the bottom!  And ice skating on a frozen creek that's 50 feet wide. 

 

Tap has some awesome ideas!!

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I'm of the opinion that one needs food at a party, lots of food, so I myself would cancel the bounce house and either:
 

*go to the pizza place, or 

 

*stay with the park, with more food and activities.

 

Regarding the food, I do live in the deep south where food is expected pretty much anytime one has visitors, no matter the time, and certainly for a party, so there may be some regional bias there. But, wherever you are, kids who show up on time and jump for an hour will be hungry!  And I think you will have a lot of people showing up late, because they will be running errands and suddenly realizing they haven't had lunch, or leaving quite early, because they did have lunch but the kids are still hungry from all the activity. 

 

Park parties don't need a jump house to be successful. We did one with all the old-fashioned games like water balloon toss, egg race, tug of war, and so on. Simple and inexpensive, and the kids thought we were geniuses because 90% of them had never played those games before, lol. Do about 3 planned things like that and the rest of the time is easily consumed by eating, playing in the park, cake, and gifts. 

 

The pizza place is even easier, of course. The goodie bags can simply be game tokens in a bag, given to them at the beginning of the party. If there aren't too many kids, it's also nice to get one of those cheap 'fax style' photos of each of them with the birthday kid, that they can take home. At Chuck E Cheese, you sit on a certain ride and it will take the photo for fifty cents. 

 

If you're feeling overwhelmed already, I'd go with the pizza place. The kids will definitely have fun, and it's less worry for your 'first try.' 

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Oh, I almost forgot the most important piece of advice: before setting the date in stone, you should nail down one or two moms who will commit to going. This is definitely easier if you're friends with the moms, of course! If you aren't actual friends, I'd still call the ones I knew best, and whose parties my kid had attended. 

Edited by katilac
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Oh, I almost forgot the most important piece of advice: before setting the date in stone, you should nail down one or two moms who will commit to going. This is definitely easier if you're friends with the moms, of course! If you aren't actual friends, I'd still call the ones I knew best, and whose parties my kid had attended.

This--I always check the date with two other Moms to see if their child can make it. I think I have fears ignore one showing up--but with my system, we always have folks!

 

I think your party seems great. I do prefer 1 1/2 hours, bc you will be exhausted and folks can always hang out after watching their kids.

 

Do balloons. We give small beanies of a large lollipop instead of bags.

 

Have fun!

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Thanks everyone for your input!  Wow, so glad I asked for advice, some of you are regular pros at this!!

 

Re: bathrooms, uh oh.  The park does not have a bathroom.  My house is less than a football field away, but idk if I want to be escorting people back and forth.  I know my husband won't want to. But I'm not letting people in my house unattended. Hmm.

 

Re: Timing. Maybe I will cut it to 2 hours, but be lax on the start/end. The bounce house is reserved for 5 hours so I can have it set up 1 hr before, take down ~45 after, so that should be lax enough but a good reason not to stay all day. 

 

Bounce house: AHH to an adult and first aid.  Great idea, thanks!

 

Food: Hmm to regional expectations. I'll price pizzas and subs to see if maybe it would be better just to do this + chips + dessert.  Not as healthy, but I don't want people uncomfortably hungry. And jumping makes kids hungry, you are right.

 

Decorations: okay! thanks for the input, I will make sure to decorate so it is obvious we are a birthday party.

 

Cake suggestions: cupcakes, noted and will do. I hate cutting cake.

 

Date set: going with the 15th, did get 3 moms to commit already so it should be ok even if no one else comes. Thanks for thinking of this!!

 

Where: still looking at the pizza place as an alternative.  Going to call today, get their schedule, talk with DH, then maybe give daughter the option to choose, if the price difference isn't killer.  I think more people would come to the park because it is closer (especially neighbor friends), but the pizza place will be cheaper if we have less than 11 kids attend.  Right now I have 8 kids committed (including my own). My daughter wants to invite at least another 10 kids; I doubt all will come but know my luck isn't good enough to say that out loud :) 

 

 

 

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We did a park party for DD at age 4. No bounce house and everyone seemed to love it.  I taped up balloons to the trees and put plastic tablecloths on the tables. I had bubble blowing stuff there, homemade half-sandwiches in different types, and a Sam's Club cupcake cake.  Oh and water -- those small bottles of water for the kids and larger ones for the adults. It was PLENTY.  The kids played on the park equipment. I may have brought a few frisbees/balls to play with. Don't remember.

Edited by vonfirmath
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You could probably end the party earlier than 5 if you want. I think two hours is probably enough time to play, eat and open gifts if you're going to do that. We went to a party earlier this year where the birthday boy did not open gifts at the party.

 

You could provide a meal if you want within that budget, but that's totally up to you. When my son turned 8 this year we rented out the craft room at Michael's. They had two options and we chose the cheaper one, providing our own craft supplies. We picked up some Hot n Ready Little Caesars and bought drinks at a nearby store. We made a dessert. The place was not close to our house so I think I brought a cooler, too. Had some water bottles in there I think. Basically kept it pretty simple. I think your park idea is fine, but what you provide as far as food goes might affect the time you set the party (ie. if you decide to provide full meal and cake then maybe just do it closer to lunch so the parents can forego being in charge of one meal that day).

 

Goodie bags. Totally optional. I see very mixed views on this. I tried to do themed bags. Ds had a monster/zombie party so the bags were skeleton hands and the goodies were Monster High bookmarks and pencils, a spider toy, and some candy. We had zombie balloons and I don't remember if anyone took one home but if I didn't think to offer them I should have.

 

Anyway, I didn't spend a whole lot but I did have to plan in advance for certain items since I ordered online (like his balloons and gifts bags which didn't all come from Amazon or weren't all 2-day eligible).

 

Now if you don't want to do pizza (allergies, etc.) then I don't know what to suggest off the top of my head, but you could easily get away with snacks and/or just dessert if the party is between meals and not too long.

 

edited: provide food not good lol

Edited by heartlikealion
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I'm of the opinion that one needs food at a party, lots of food, so I myself would cancel the bounce house and either:

 

*go to the pizza place, or 

 

*stay with the park, with more food and activities.

 

Regarding the food, I do live in the deep south where food is expected pretty much anytime one has visitors, no matter the time, and certainly for a party, so there may be some regional bias there. But, wherever you are, kids who show up on time and jump for an hour will be hungry!  And I think you will have a lot of people showing up late, because they will be running errands and suddenly realizing they haven't had lunch, or leaving quite early, because they did have lunch but the kids are still hungry from all the activity. 

 

Park parties don't need a jump house to be successful. We did one with all the old-fashioned games like water balloon toss, egg race, tug of war, and so on. Simple and inexpensive, and the kids thought we were geniuses because 90% of them had never played those games before, lol. Do about 3 planned things like that and the rest of the time is easily consumed by eating, playing in the park, cake, and gifts. 

 

The pizza place is even easier, of course. The goodie bags can simply be game tokens in a bag, given to them at the beginning of the party. If there aren't too many kids, it's also nice to get one of those cheap 'fax style' photos of each of them with the birthday kid, that they can take home. At Chuck E Cheese, you sit on a certain ride and it will take the photo for fifty cents. 

 

If you're feeling overwhelmed already, I'd go with the pizza place. The kids will definitely have fun, and it's less worry for your 'first try.' 

 

Interesting. This has been a really sore spot for me. One year ds had a party and we asked MIL if we could host it at her home since we didn't have a big enough home. I had planned on just dessert, maybe snacks, but she insisted I was doing it *wrong* and we had to have a meal. Next thing I knew I lost all control of the party because it was at her home and it was mostly her family attending. When we hosted it at my parents' home they stayed out of it and as far as I recall Mom thought no meal was fine if done between meal times. Mom didn't grow up in the South and MIL has spent a lot longer here so that could be part of it. But then I look at some friends I know that live in the South and we attended at least one of their parties for their daughter. They didn't do a meal. They did snacks and dessert at the park. Different strokes for different folks lol

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Sounds like you have a solid plan.   If you want to get more use out of the bounce house you might let your close friends know you'd love to have them stay a little later. The moms can talk and the few kids left can play together.   

 

Have a great party!

 

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Great advice so far.  I just wanted to mention that you might want to put on the invite no drop offs.  With kids that young you probably don't want to have to be responsible for a lot of unsupervised kids, especially if you go with the park place.

 

I did have a couple of moms that were bad about just dumping their children (including siblings) and leaving without even confirming I knew their kids had arrived.  I had to start calling them directly before events and reminding them no drop offs.  (When the kids were older I was fine with drop offs as long as they checked in with me before leaving.).

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Great advice so far. I just wanted to mention that you might want to put on the invite no drop offs. With kids that young you probably don't want to have to be responsible for a lot of unsupervised kids, especially if you go with the park place.

 

I did have a couple of moms that were bad about just dumping their children (including siblings) and leaving without even confirming I knew their kids had arrived. I had to start calling them directly before events and reminding them no drop offs. (When the kids were older I was fine with drop offs as long as they checked in with me before leaving.).

Ok this is really interesting to me. When we first started doing parties we were shocked to realize that the parents (and siblings!) expected to stay. And be fed. Instead of feeding 8-10 little kids it was easily turned to 40-50 people. That stressed me out so much. And cost way way more. And we have never been able to do one at a location because of not knowing how many people we would actually be paying for.

 

I'm more of the mind of just drop your kid off and come back later :) but we do parties at our house. At a park and with a bounce house that would be much different.

 

The no bathroom thing might be a deal breaker for me to think this would work. Hopefully you have it figured out by now.

 

Good luck!

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Ok this is really interesting to me. When we first started doing parties we were shocked to realize that the parents (and siblings!) expected to stay. And be fed. Instead of feeding 8-10 little kids it was easily turned to 40-50 people. That stressed me out so much. And cost way way more. And we have never been able to do one at a location because of not knowing how many people we would actually be paying for.

 

I'm more of the mind of just drop your kid off and come back later :) but we do parties at our house. At a park and with a bounce house that would be much different.

 

The no bathroom thing might be a deal breaker for me to think this would work. Hopefully you have it figured out by now.

 

Good luck!

Makes sense but at a park, with no way to contain them, I absolutely do NOT want people just dropping off little kids, especially if they also just drop off siblings, too.  8 years old isn't so bad but when we had parties for 5/6 year olds there were a couple of parents that just dumped and ran.  I didn't even know the kids were there!  How can I keep up with kids that I don't even know have arrived? Also, when I am hosting a birthday party at a park for little kids, I want the parents to be responsible for their kids, not me.  I have too many things to juggle.  At our park (large, lots of blind spots) it is too easy for the kids to wander off or get injured and there is also the possibility of kidnapping (which has happened here, although not common in the grand scheme of things).  

 

At my home?  No problem.  Drop and leave.  Much easier.  :)

 

I guess if you had a very responsible DH and maybe another adult that was good at keeping track it might work, as long as the number of kids wasn't big...

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Man, this is a lot to think about for an 8 year old's birthday party!

 

I'm sure I went through the same thought processes and planning, but it's been so long that I've completely forgotten and/or blocked it out of my mind.

 

It was a beautiful time, but so much easier when your teenagers just want cash as a present, and they make their own plans as to how they want to celebrate (or not!).

 

Have fun!  :party:

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I would err on the side of caution and expect to feed the parents, but I would want to know in advance if they were letting siblings tag along. That would affect headcount for other things as well (like if I was doing goodie bags possibly).

 

We went to an event that was a pancake breakfast with Santa. Dh told me they would probably just feed the kids. It never occurred to me til he said that. Boy was I glad he warned me.

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Okay, I decided to go with the park.  I have a few issues still with this, but this is what I've decided, and will hopefully work.  The HOA isn't returning my call to reserve the park tho :/

 

So, the decisions thus far, and some issues still: 

 

1. Yeah, the no bathroom thing.  Cutting down the time to 2 hours will hopefully keep this down to a minimum problem.  Families that live in our neighborhood (50%) will know the park doesn't have the bathroom.  It's the others I'm worried about.  I will casually mention it I think in passing conversation to the moms I can.  My house can be used in emergency, but I won't advertise it.  The kids are mostly 8+, so hopefully they don't need to go every 5 minutes.  Right?  Or Wishful Thinking?

 

2. The jumping castle.  Yeah, I agree it isn't a necessity, but my daughter LOVES them.  If there is a jumping castle at a party/event/anything, she is the first one in and only comes out when told.  I wish I could skip, if only for budget and all the complications it brings, but for this particular kid I think it's worth it.

 

3. I am just saying siblings are welcome, and to just let me know.  I expect parents to stay, so I'll make sure there are enough snacks for them.

 

4. Speaking of food, decided to go with chips, veggies, and fruit.  Cupcakes for dessert. Water bottles. The party is going to be 2:30-4:30, so no one will expect real food, but there will be stuff there to snack on for both parents and kids. 

 

5.  Dumped kids, hmm.  Thanks for bringing this up. 

 

6.  NEW ISSUE: How many kids to invite? Right now, my daughter has 15 on her list.  I was happy with this number.  She is inviting everyone in the TKD class, which is good (I explained the whole you can't invite just 5 out of 7 people, etc).  But, what about her Girl Scout troop?  She only wants to invite 4 or 5 out of 15.  Is this okay, or do I need to invite everyone to avoid hurt feelings/singling out?  We won't see the troop to hand out physical invites until next Thursday (!), but I have emails for the parents, so I can email out the invites today for more notice.  So, technically the girls who aren't invited won't know unless someone brings it up on Thursday's meeting (well, 90% of the girls go to the same school, so they may talk about it there too). I know this is a new Hot Topic in regular schools, etc., and don't want to kill any good will.  On the other hand, inviting 25 kids (plus siblings, plus parents) seems insane, even if not everyone comes. 

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Sounds like a good plan and this IS your daughter's birthday party so if you can afford it and she absolutely loves it, get that bouncy thing!   :lol:

 

As for whether to invite all of the girl scouts from her troop, there is no easy answer there.  You shouldn't have to invite ALL members of every thing your child is involved in whenever your child has a birthday party and wants a few friends from each group to come.  On the flip side, I can guarantee that someone will mention something about the birthday part at a later date and other kids are going to find out they weren't invited.  It may cause hard feelings.  BTDT.  No advice but  :grouphug:  for having to make this type of decision.

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I wouldn't start inviting scouts now if you already have 15 invited. Because 15 actually means more. It's going to be 15 + parents and siblings.

 

Edited: I'm not sure I understand. She doesn't have to invite all scouts but has to invite all TKD students? Where did the number 15 come from, is that how many are in the class or is that including some scouts?

 

I would consider avoiding any face-to-face distribution of cards if there's a chance someone will witness it. Send it snail mail or email only maybe. Maybe just scan/create one invitation and send that.

Edited by heartlikealion
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I wouldn't start inviting scouts now if you already have 15 invited. Because 15 actually means more. It's going to be 15 + parents and siblings.

 

Edited: I'm not sure I understand. She doesn't have to invite all scouts but has to invite all TKD students? Where did the number 15 come from, is that how many are in the class or is that including some scouts?

 

I would consider avoiding any face-to-face distribution of cards if there's a chance someone will witness it. Send it snail mail or email only maybe. Maybe just scan/create one invitation and send that.

 

 

On her list of 15 people she wants to invite, she has included 5 girls from her troop. Her troop has a total of 15 girls.  My concern is that by excluding the rest, we are going to have hurt kids (and angry parents...) when they find out.  I won't be distributing to the troop girls in person, though, so I'm asking if I can get away with it.  I don't really want to invite an extra 10 kids (plus siblings, plus parents), but I also don't want her to commit social suicide with the troop since it is one of her main activities for getting out of the house. 

 

I DO think she needs to invite all of the kids from TKD.  Her class has 7 other kids total, she originally wrote 5 of them on the list. I think excluding 2 out of 7 is bad form, especially since these invites will be handed out in person (I have no other contact info). 

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Not inviting all the scouts is fine as long as she doesn't hand out invites in front of other kids and doesn't talk about her party in front of kids not invited. 

 

Don't want to be a downer but I think the no bathroom thing might be an issue. Kids drinking and kids jumping...kids are going to have to pee. Giving them a heads up will help, but I'd expect more than a couple to need to pee. 

 

So parents are expected to stay for a party for kids who are school age? Huh. It wasn't like that in our area when ours were that age. The stuff I learn here. 

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Not inviting all the scouts is fine as long as she doesn't hand out invites in front of other kids and doesn't talk about her party in front of kids not invited. 

 

Don't want to be a downer but I think the no bathroom thing might be an issue. Kids drinking and kids jumping...kids are going to have to pee. Giving them a heads up will help, but I'd expect more than a couple to need to pee. 

 

So parents are expected to stay for a party for kids who are school age? Huh. It wasn't like that in our area when ours were that age. The stuff I learn here. 

 

I don't know about normal expectations. I would just want more adults to linger if I was at a place like a park. At least, a park without a fence where kids might wander too far and I lose track. Ds is the same age as the OP's daughter. I would be okay with drop offs depending on how confident I felt about keeping tabs on everyone/hosting games, etc. They are not likely to leave the park, but maybe someone will get hurt or something else random will happen and I would want assistance. My worst nightmare in this park scenario would be me hosting a party with like 30 people and someone needs to go to the ER. Then dh takes the kid to the ER while I lead the other 29 back to my house because one has to pee? lol

 

If I don't know your child that well I certainly don't know their siblings. That's new kids to keep up with. So I would be a little overwhelmed. But given a decent parent/child ratio it might not be a problem.

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I don't know about normal expectations. I would just want more adults to linger if I was at a place like a park. At least, a park without a fence where kids might wander too far and I lose track. Ds is the same age as the OP's daughter. I would be okay with drop offs depending on how confident I felt about keeping tabs on everyone/hosting games, etc. They are not likely to leave the park, but maybe someone will get hurt or something else random will happen and I would want assistance. My worst nightmare in this park scenario would be me hosting a party with like 30 people and someone needs to go to the ER. Then dh takes the kid to the ER while I lead the other 29 back to my house because one has to pee? lol

 

If I don't know your child that well I certainly don't know their siblings. That's new kids to keep up with. So I would be a little overwhelmed. But given a decent parent/child ratio it might not be a problem.

 

I was surprised when my youngest dd was about 6 and she went to a friend's swim party and it was made clear that parents were NOT to stay. Yeah, I was kind of nervous about that but it turned out fine.   I wasn't saying parents staying was a bad thing, just that back in the day my kids probably wouldn't have been able to attend many parties if a parent had to stay. Saturday afternoons usually meant running kids to different soccer games, theater rehearsals, art class, etc.  We often dropped two kids at two different parties- man, I'm glad those years are behind me. 

 

My biggest worry with a party of 30 kids is keeping everyone happy. Even with ten kids squabbles break out and that kind of thing is what made me limit parties to 2 hours tops. 

 

OP, have a great party- I bet the bounce house will be loads of fun!

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DD stepped on a rusty nail sticking out of a board, which was hidden in some underbrush, while playing in a park at a birthday party for a 10 year old. Fortunately DH was there. One of the parents of the birthday child dropped them off at the ER, so DH wouldn't have to deal with parking, etc., leaving the other parent in charge back at the park. Stuff happens.

 

In addition to confirming the date with a couple of close friends before finalizing, I would recruit a few parents to stay, fully expecting at least half of the kids to be drop-offs, at that age. Designate someone to keep a list of cell numbers for parents who drop off.

 

I would decorate, but remember that many parks do not allow latex balloons. Mylar is ok. One of the more recent summer parties I attended was decorated with colorful fabric hung with strings.

 

I am surprised your park allows a bouncy house. Be prepared for random kids to show up.

 

edited for spelling

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by slackermom
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DD stepped on a rusty nail sticking out of a board, which was hidden in some underbrush, while playing in a park at a birthday party for a 10 year old. Fortunately DH was there. One of the parents of the birthday child dropped them off at the ER, so DH wouldn't have to deal with parking, etc., leaving the other parent in charge back at the park. Stuff happens.

 

In addition to confirming the date with a couple of close friends before finalizing, I would recruit a few parents to stay, fully expecting at least half of the kids to be drop-offs, at that age. Designate someone to keep a list of cell numbers for parents who drop off.

 

I would decorate, but remember that many parks do not allow latex balloons. Mylar is ok. One of the more recent summer parties I attended was decorated with colorful fabric hung with strings.

 

I am surprised your park allows a bouncy house. Be prepared for random kids to show up.

 

edited for spelling

 

Wow, exactly the kind of things I think about. Only as the host I'd be scared to send the child with a parent that wasn't hosting as I may not know if the injured child's parents know this other parent blah blah. I'm sure there was a phone call made, though if numbers were available. Totally agree on having the cell numbers handy!

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Not inviting all the scouts is fine as long as she doesn't hand out invites in front of other kids and doesn't talk about her party in front of kids not invited. 

 

Don't want to be a downer but I think the no bathroom thing might be an issue. Kids drinking and kids jumping...kids are going to have to pee. Giving them a heads up will help, but I'd expect more than a couple to need to pee. 

 

So parents are expected to stay for a party for kids who are school age? Huh. It wasn't like that in our area when ours were that age. The stuff I learn here. 

 

Agreed. I won't use our Neighborhood park for parties because of no bathroom.

 

Even for Easter Egg hunts it can be a problem.

 

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We throw a ton of kid parties. A ton. I love kid parties. Like, we regularly host the parties for other kids at our house, too. We generally end up with 25 or so kids, plus that many parents. It's a lot of fun. We do non-meal times and serve cake, ice cream and snacks and drinks. Much like you decided.

 

You've gotten loads of great advice, so I haven't jumped in till now. The fatal flaw here is the bathroom. I really think you need a solid plan for escorting kids to your house to use the bathroom. Do you have an adult friend or relative who you'd trust to do the bathroom runs? I would strategize it now, and plan for it. They will absolutely need to use it!

 

Other than that, sounds like a blast!

 

And I don't think you need to invite the entire troop, either. :)

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On her list of 15 people she wants to invite, she has included 5 girls from her troop. Her troop has a total of 15 girls.  My concern is that by excluding the rest, we are going to have hurt kids (and angry parents...) when they find out.  I won't be distributing to the troop girls in person, though, so I'm asking if I can get away with it.  I don't really want to invite an extra 10 kids (plus siblings, plus parents), but I also don't want her to commit social suicide with the troop since it is one of her main activities for getting out of the house. 

 

I DO think she needs to invite all of the kids from TKD.  Her class has 7 other kids total, she originally wrote 5 of them on the list. I think excluding 2 out of 7 is bad form, especially since these invites will be handed out in person (I have no other contact info). 

This sounds fine to me. I outright tell my kids, "fewer than half, or everyone." So by that arbitrary rule you are good not inviting the girl scout troop as a whole. I know it's a very made up rule, but so far it's worked for us.

 

The bathroom is a HUGE issue... kids will ARRIVE needing to use the bathroom even if they know there's not one there. 

 

Although honestly, a lot of kids will just go behind a bush, it doesn't seem like you should encourage it.

Edited by tm919
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My worst nightmare in this park scenario would be me hosting a party with like 30 people and someone needs to go to the ER. Then dh takes the kid to the ER while I lead the other 29 back to my house because one has to pee? lol

 

 

 LOL This does sound bad.  We will have 3 grandparents on hand plus an uncle, so we will have some extra bodies if there is an emergency.  And my MIL is a doctor, so we have someone that knows how to effectively use a first aid kit. :)

 

In addition to confirming the date with a couple of close friends before finalizing, I would recruit a few parents to stay, fully expecting at least half of the kids to be drop-offs, at that age. Designate someone to keep a list of cell numbers for parents who drop off.

 

I would decorate, but remember that many parks do not allow latex balloons. Mylar is ok. One of the more recent summer parties I attended was decorated with colorful fabric hung with strings.

 

I am surprised your park allows a bouncy house. Be prepared for random kids to show up.

 

Good idea about the cellphone list! Will definitely make sure that happens.

 

HMMM to the latex balloons, I hadn't thought of that and they didn't mention it.  But, better to ask than not.

 

The good thing about this park (you already know the no-bathroom-bad part) is that it is essentially a private park if you reserve the ramada: there is a jungle gym thing and a large grass thing, but it is hardly used because the "big park" is down the street. So, random kids may show up, but most of the parking will be taken by our guests, and it is kind of out of the way for people to just crash the party.  At the other park, we would have been a bit more public.

 

You've gotten loads of great advice, so I haven't jumped in till now. The fatal flaw here is the bathroom. I really think you need a solid plan for escorting kids to your house to use the bathroom. Do you have an adult friend or relative who you'd trust to do the bathroom runs? I would strategize it now, and plan for it. They will absolutely need to use it!

 

Other than that, sounds like a blast!

 

And I don't think you need to invite the entire troop, either. :)

 

So here is the bathroom plan!: I will pay my husband $2 every time he needs to take someone to the bathroom.  If he needs to take more than 5 trips to our house, I will also bake him his own batch of chocolate-dipped biscotti.  If he has to go to the house more than 10 times in the 2 hours, he gets the next 2 weekends completely chore free.  He will probably be buying an extra pack of water bottles to hand out to the kids, lol.  Meanwhile I'm thinking of hiding the water bottles and only taking out if asked :)

Seriously, I'm not excited about this part, because half the reason of not hosting in my house is so I didn't have to really clean.  Now I'll still need to make sure it's straightened up. But, it is what it is.  The other park that is an option has the bathrooms on the other side, and the doors are locked so we'd have to let people into that too. And it doesn't have any equipment for kids to play on.  So, the Great Bathroom Migration of 2017 is set to take place. 

 

This sounds fine to me. I outright tell my kids, "fewer than half, or everyone." So by that arbitrary rule you are good not inviting the girl scout troop as a whole. I know it's a very made up rule, but so far it's worked for us.

 

The bathroom is a HUGE issue... kids will ARRIVE needing to use the bathroom even if they know there's not one there. 

 

Although honestly, a lot of kids will just go behind a bush, it doesn't seem like you should encourage it.

 

 

Yeah, the scraggly bushes around here won't cut it.  Since most of the kids that have RSVP'd at this point live about as close as we do to the park, hopefully they will go to the bathroom before they walk over.  Or their parents will take/send them to their house if they need it.  We'll see. 

 

I like your fewer than half or everyone rule.

 

What I'm doing for the girl scouts: I'm inviting the ones that she really wants to come tonight. I can always change my mind and send invites tomorrow to the rest of them, but I don't think it's necessary.  

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Does your property adjoin the park? Are you at all worried about sending your dh off the premises with a little girl to take her to the bathroom? I'm not at all suggesting that your dh would ever do anything wrong- but for his own safety I might not feel comfortable with him taking kids off alone. 

 

 

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Does your property adjoin the park? Are you at all worried about sending your dh off the premises with a little girl to take her to the bathroom? I'm not at all suggesting that your dh would ever do anything wrong- but for his own safety I might not feel comfortable with him taking kids off alone. 

 

He teaches, so this always on a radar for him.  He will take the kid and parent together. If the parent does dump the kid and the kid needs to go, it will be DH and MIL escorting (tho MIL doesn't know about this).  Regardless of it's a boy or girl, two adults always present.  Thanks for the concern though, this is definitely an issue that can't be ignored.

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The rule we have at church is two adults always in charge of kids, but not adults related to one another. I might just make an announcement that if kids need to use the restroom there will definitely be a group escorted at X:00 so the kids could plan for that rather than randomly asking throughout the party. Of course, when you gotta go, you gotta go lol. So I don't know if that would be any help!

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I don't think I saw this asked -- does your park have electricity for the bounce house?  

 

No, it doesn't, but the jump castle people will bring a generator that they will hook up for it (for an extra charge, of course).  I guess at the big city we are next to, parks no longer let jump castles use the electricity anyway, so they bring a generator along no matter what, assuming a better safe than sorry approach. 

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I'm not a fan of gift bags, but you could always stuff a piñata with candy. It would be a game (use a wiffle bat or something so it doesn't break too quickly). Hand out those thin plastic bags (think Halloween individual treat bags) for kids to pick up the candy, and that can double as the gift bag.

 

Have fun!

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I would just have the party at my house and invite fewer kids, but that's me. The park/bathroom situation would be a no way. Can you set up the castle in your yard?

No, our yard is pretty small, it wouldn't fit.

 

My house is not kid friendly.  I mean, it's ok for my kids, because they know the rules. But it's a small house and the last time I hosted girl scouts for a craft project I was...unhappy afterwards. So many things that to me that are obvious you don't do, they did. Even after being asked, then told, to stop.  And there were only 8 girls, including my own. Can't handle a party in here, at least a kid party.

 

And I'd have to clean the house, which obviously is a deal breaker, lol  jkjk :) 

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I'm not a fan of gift bags, but you could always stuff a piñata with candy. It would be a game (use a wiffle bat or something so it doesn't break too quickly). Hand out those thin plastic bags (think Halloween individual treat bags) for kids to pick up the candy, and that can double as the gift bag.

 

Have fun!

 

Yeah, I thought about that, I agree that'd be a good way to go. But, there's no place at the park I can hang one safely (did a check this afternoon). 

 

Not a fan of gift bags either.  Right now I'm gravitating towards either a pack of cards (like http://www.orientaltrading.com/pixel-mini-playing-cards-a2-13704546.fltr?source=shoppingcart)tied to a balloon or a mind teaser (like http://www.orientaltrading.com/mind-teaser-game-assortment-a2-5_536.fltr) with a balloon.  Or maybe bubbles. Or maybe bake extra cupcakes, wrap individually to put in a little treat bag. And a balloon.  Lol, at least I got the balloon part figured out.  

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Yeah, I thought about that, I agree that'd be a good way to go. But, there's no place at the park I can hang one safely (did a check this afternoon). 

 

Not a fan of gift bags either.  Right now I'm gravitating towards either a pack of cards (like http://www.orientaltrading.com/pixel-mini-playing-cards-a2-13704546.fltr?source=shoppingcart)tied to a balloon or a mind teaser (like http://www.orientaltrading.com/mind-teaser-game-assortment-a2-5_536.fltr) with a balloon.  Or maybe bubbles. Or maybe bake extra cupcakes, wrap individually to put in a little treat bag. And a balloon.  Lol, at least I got the balloon part figured out.  

You don't need to hang it.  We use a long piece of pipe or wooden dowel. An adult on each end to hold it. I prefer pull string versions over the other ones.

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Hello all again.  Thanks for your help so far!  We have 19 hours or so until the party :) 

 

I do have one last question for everyone:

So, what do you do when it rains at your park party?

 

The weather forecast was clear skies until maybe Wednesday or Thursday.  Now we are at 50% chance of rain, "scattered showers" are expected. Today it rained so this is probably accurate. 

 

We have a ramada, but with 19 kids RSVP'd, plus parents, we won't have enough room under it for the whole party.  5-10 minutes, sure, we can all stay underneath it, but not the whole party.  And I don't think it is going to rain the whole party.  But...just in case, what do you recommend for those down times?  Buy ponchos? just tell people to bring rain jackets? 

 

I don't know anyone with a tarp or tent or anything like that. 

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I have no sage advice beyond plan something you can do under the ramada or have a rain date. We do our outdoor parties at home and in a pinch I can move them in. But that's no help for you.

 

Crossing fingers for no rain and wishing you a fabulously wonderful party!

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Dance party during rain delays- bring some music like the chicken dance or other non-controversial music and have a dance party.  Also, right now the mannequin game is quite popular- not really a game, but you could have everyone be mannequins and take some pictures.  Laughing about that kind of thing will make rain delays easier.  Have you ever played that game where there is a prize wrapped in a bajillion layers of saran wrap, wrapping paper, etc? Kids sit in a circle and one person starts unwrapping as music plays. When it stops the player has to hand it to the person next to them and the music starts again as the next one unwraps layers. The person to get to the prize gets to keep it. A variation is to add tiny prizes all through it- think things like fun size packs of candy.  

 

Hope the rain stays away and you have a great party!

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