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How To Plan A Home Birthday Party By Ralph (the Great) Metzler


Having worked as a full-time children's entertainer for the last 11 years and performed at over 1,000 birthday parties in people's homes, I have seen it all. From intimate events to extravagant affairs, birthday parties can be lots of fun for everyone. But if you have never planned one, where do you start?

Funny you should ask. Here are some ideas that will help make your party special without breaking the bank. If you follow a few guidelines it will be a piece of cake.

DATE & TIME

The first thing you need to decide on is a date and time. Most people want to have their birthday party on a weekend afternoon. This is a good time for a party, but many times it interferes with other activities such as soccer games, family outings, other birthday parties, etc. Also, the best entertainers usually fill their weekend schedules first. If you want to have the party on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, plan as far in advance as you can.

Saturday mornings are becoming more popular because that time interferes with fewer activities, and when the party is over, the rest of the day is free. Weekdays, however, are becoming the most popular party days. Weekday parties are not only a great way to break up the week, but also leave your weekends free for other activities.

Plan a few dates that you would like to have the party. Check your child's activity schedule to be sure it doesn't interfere with the party. Also make sure most of your child's friends can make it to the party. Call the entertainer you want at the party and check their schedule and decide on a date and time (see Entertainment below).

PARTY LENGTH

The typical birthday party lasts two hours. If you plan on fifteen minutes at the beginning of the party for late arrivals and 40-45 minutes for birthday cake and opening presents, that leaves a full hour you must fill with other activities and entertainment. If your party is three hours long, you will need to fill two hours.

DECIDE ON A THEME

You don't need a theme, but it will often help make planning easier. If your daughter's favorite things at the moment are Dalmatians, theme the party around them. If your son's passion is Harry Potter, you have your theme. Others use baseball, soccer, football, ballet, dinosaurs, Cinderella, etc.

Many people will theme their parties around the entertainment they have planned. For example, a magician will be performing so the theme is MAGIC, a clown is coming to the party so a CLOWN theme is planned, etc.

As far as themes go, don't worry that absolutely everything at the party must fit the theme. A few decorations are fine, a cake is great, but there is no need to stress-out because you can't find an entertainer that does a Star Wars show to fit your theme. Remember that a party should be fun for everyone, including the planner.

DECORATIONS

When it comes to decorating, all you need to find are Dalmatian party items. You don't need to have everything "Dalmatian" either. A few major items are fine; the rest of the decorations can be black and white to match the Dalmatian's colors.

There are several party stores around that carry many different themes, call and ask if they have items that will fit your theme. You can also visit a website like www.birthdayexpress.com that will supply everything you need for your party theme delivered to your door. And remember you don't need to go overboard. A few strategically placed decorations are often better than every square foot covered in color.

INVITATIONS

This is a place where your theme should begin. Dalmatian invitations will let everyone know the theme before they even get to the party. It is also a subtle suggestion of gift ideas for those who don't have any idea what to get. Make sure you get the invitations out a minimum of two weeks before the party to give parents time to plan.

FOOD

If the party is scheduled during or close to lunch or dinner, serving food is essential. During a party the children are usually having so much fun with each other that serving a "normal" meal is not only unnecessary, but also unneeded. The children want to get back to the party activities as soon as possible; so pizza, pigs in a blanket, or sandwiches and chips are usually perfect.

CAKE

Here is an area where you have lots of options. You can have a cake decorated and shaped to go with your theme, or a traditional cake just using the theme colors. You can have cake and ice cream or an ice cream cake. This is an area where your creativity can really come out. I have been to almost 1,000 birthday parties and I have seen some amazing cakes.

I once saw a Star Wars cake with a sculpture of R2D2 made of white chocolate on top. There was the "Magic" cake shaped like a rabbit coming out of a top hat. Then there was the cake that looked like a construction site complete with dump trucks and bulldozers. There was even a ca

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