Child’s Birthday Party: To DIY or Not to DIY

Kids’ Vintage-Inspired Gumball Birthday Party, HGTV

I am fresh off the birthday party planning crazy-train, and I ask myself…could I have handled this more simply? Recently my oldest had a cute little birthday party in the food court at the Mall. Sounds like a smart and simple plan, right? And, so much cheaper than paying one large per-head sum to a jumping bouncing gym place that charges you a fortune for an ugly cake and pizza that will be eaten in a small, primary-colored party room, while a 19 year old attempts to facilitate fun and games in an orderly fashion. No…not for me. But this party-in-a-box-just-show-up-and-let-them-do-everything concept is beginning to sound very appealing to me. That is, if my need to control every detail would cease to exist.

I start thinking about my girls’ birthday parties at least 4-5 months before they are set to occur.   I mull over whether or not we’ll have an outdoor party or an indoor party, a DIY party or a party-in-a-box at a kids’ place. Will we invite all of their classmates, or just a few friends? What kind of theme should we have this year? Where should we have it? Is there any chance my husband is ready to have a home party, complete with kids all over the house and frosting in the grout? Negative.

So back to the question of where should we have it? Twice we have gambled with the weather, and hosted parties outdoors. In both cases we were blessed with decent weather, but as my daughter’s birthday is in the spring in Texas, you never know if it will be freezing, blazing hot or if a tornado might blow through. (And my unfortunate between-the-brows wrinkles got much deeper while worrying about it.) I’ll spare you the complete play-by-play of my party planning thought process, because it is ridiculous.   Ri-dic-u-lous. I would be so embarrassed if anyone knew just how much I obsess over every detail, the budget, the invitations, the favors…   And what’s funny is the final product is far from perfect or Pinterest-worthy, and I never even execute half of what I plan in my head. But you can be sure that with all of its imperfections, our party was VERY thoughtfully planned and shopped for and stressed out over…and let’s just leave it at that.

This year, as the calendar rolled around to a couple of months before my daughter’s birthday, my baby…turning six this year…had only 2 requests. She wanted a Disney Sofia the First theme, and she wanted to have it at the Carousel at the mall. So there’s the location, and out goes the list in my head of possible places to host the party. And that’s what we did. I thought a mall party would save us a lot of money since this year we seemed to have a pretty long guest list. In the end, however, when you factor in balloons, favors, tabletop necessities, 2 carousel rides for each guest, pizza for kids and parents, treats, drinks, decorations, photo invitations, etc etc ETC, I spent as much, if not more, than I would have at a one-stop-shop party place. But, had I not chosen a DIY party, I couldn’t have customized every detail for my daughter, and THAT is completely worth it to me. Worth every exhausting moment.

And this is where I must acknowledge that some Moms are not so easily exhausted by complex affairs as I am. You don’t sweat the small stuff, and you don’t need to have control of every detail. You can delegate it. I admire your freedom, and I need to work on that! But for those of us who insist on obsessing over the party for months and over-complicating certain aspects of it, I must say that really, it is very fun to plan every detail with your child in mind. What will they be excited to see at the party?   What will make the party fun for her friends? What kind of unique party favor can we give?

I think the kid party trend is moving toward DIY homemade parties again, just as it was when I was a kid. Sure, I had a couple of parties at Chuck E Cheese (right of passage), but most of the time, parties were at home. Mom made a cake, and we played pin the tail on the donkey. My Mom is very creative and went all out for our home parties (I had some great ones!), but she didn’t have the ability to view thousands of “pins” for new ideas. Lately, Pinterest, and it’s deeply dedicated audience of craft-oriented Moms (or in my case, wannabe craft-oriented) is influencing the birthday party scene dramatically. They already have. Go to Pinterest and search for “Frozen party” and the results speak for themselves. Or, simply search for “DIY birthday party ideas” and you will OD on images of adorable homemade cupcakes, banners, favors. You will pin 1,000 of them, and execute only 5 of them, but…it was fun window shopping while watching Friends reruns, wasn’t it?

Check back with me next year, and let’s see if I have decided to go “party-in-a-box” or if I’m ready for my next belt in DIY kids’ party planning. After all, I’m still only wishing I could make a party as fancy as the extravagant “Frozen” party my daughter attended recently (Pinterest exploded at that house, and it was AWESOME).

I leave you with these words of encouragement as you board the party planning crazy-train: Please don’t fall victim to what I lovingly refer to as “Pinterest Pressure.” You do NOT – I repeat – do NOT have to be a perfect Pinterest Mom.   Kids LOVE parties, anytime, anywhere, with homemade cupcakes or fancy bakery ones, in their backyard, the mall or at a jumping bouncing gym place in a primary-colored birthday party room.   They love them all. It is usually we Moms who obsess over the theme and the details. The kids just want to have a party with cake and presents and friends, right?

Below are 4 creative party planning ideas that I found around the web. to inspire your next kids’ party. (I could post more, but I know you don’t have time to read more than a few!)


Image from BuzzFeed DIY, 32 Unexpected
Things To Do With Balloons
32 Unexpected Things To Do With Balloons  I particularly like #1, 14 and 29.
Birthday cake popcorn!  I wouldn’t do this instead of a cake, as the picture suggests, but rather as a party treat.  One look at this recipe and you will want to try it right now!
Rainbow Birthday Party   It’s unlikely that your kids will let you veer away from a character-themed party, but these rainbows just make me happy.  Love, love, love.
Crayon Mold Favors  These stars are so cute!  Don’t throw away the random crayons that came home in your child’s pencil box at the end of the school year!  Find a cute mold and make these for party favors.  The parents of your young party guests will appreciate these over the typical dollar store junk…

3 Replies to “Child’s Birthday Party: To DIY or Not to DIY”

  1. Yes, I overly complicated aspects of my daughter's first birthday. We only invited family but that didn't stop me from staying up all hours hand making felt sheep on a sewing machine I hadn't used in years, hand painting signs, and making a cake that looked like a sheep. My sweet husband picked a sheep theme. I ran with it.

  2. I Love This! I think that you and I may be kindred spirits. I could have written this myself. I overthink, over plan, and over complicate every step of the planning process. I have boards on Pinterest for my kids next couple birthdays. I usually hope to do huge, expensive, time consuming projects and end up going with a simpler, cheaper version, or completely forgoing the project all together. I really enjoyed this post! Cheers!

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