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How to survive planning a child’s birthday party

Planning a child’s birthday party should be fun and easy, right? It is, after all the, time to celebrate another year of a kid’s life with 10 to 20 screaming mini friends while trying to balance allergies and make sure your child’s dreams come true. Alright, perhaps not so easy, but with a plan in place, and with the help of this survival birthday how-to guide, children’s birthday party planning will be a breeze.

Though birthday planning can be overwhelming, it will become easier once you simplify it and start at step one: location, location, location. Where are you having your ultimate kid’s party? There are many options ranging from the movie theatre to a gymnastics centre or a more classic home party at your house. It can be more difficult to plan a winter party because the outdoors obviously won’t work, but here are a few indoor birthday party ideas for winter babies:

  • Indoor Trampoline party
  • Beading studio for jewelry party
  • Art studio for pottery making
  • Indoor playground
  • Gymnastics centre
  • Rock Climbing
  • Baking yummy treats party
  • Homemade Pizza Party
  • Craft and Arts party

If you are on a budget and can’t afford the $250 plus fees at these expensive venues, opt for a party at home or a room in the local community centre to save on costs. Through the City of Toronto for example, there is an option to rent a room for an arts or baking party, or to rent out the gym for a more sports-themed extravaganza.  For my daughter, we decided to do an arts-themed party at the community centre because we are short on space for a group of children at the house.

After the location and time are booked, it is time to decide how many kids to invite. This is a difficult decision because it is hard to think about disappointing kids that aren’t invited. On the other hand though, if too many kids are invited the costs will go through the roof and planning it will become very time-consuming. Most parties would include about 10-15 kids, because not all the invitees will be able to attend due to other weekend recreational activities. Make sure to include a note in the invitations about letting the host parents know about allergies when people RSVP.

Budgeting for various party expenses is imperative to ensure that overspending doesn’t occur. Use an excel sheet or google doc to keep track of expenses and to organize what is left to be done prior to the party. Try to get friends and family to help out instead of paying venue staff. People love kids’ birthday parties because, frankly, children are hilarious and cute when they are excited. By getting family and friends to help on the big day, it will make things go smoothly and then the parents have some adult companions to enjoy the festivities with.

Last but not least, have fun! There will be points of stress and it is nerve-racking thinking about how your child’s birthday party adds up compared to their classmates’ parties, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that your child is smiling and happy.

What are your survival tips for planning a child’s birthday party? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

40 is the new 40

This article was previously published on January 4, 2012.

I’m on the cusp of my 40th birthday and I’m excited. Not that anybody believes me when I say it. In fact, every time I gleefully sing: “I’m turning 40, I’m turning 40! Hooray I’m going to be old!” at anyone within earshot lately (silly I know, but please note I never claimed not to be) and I gear up to start my happiness dance, someone always chimes in with…

“Well not to worry, you look so young. No one would ever guess you’re anywhere near to 40.”

or

“Old? Forty is the new 20/30? You’re sooo not old.”

Generally, I ignore such comments and just carry on singing. Moreover, the seemingly knee jerk response to console me every time I mention that I’m about to hit the BIG Four-O, only serves to make me want to declare it even more loudly to more people.

You see, I don’t ever want to get to a place where I’m mourning the fact that I’m getting older. I’ve always thought it best to accept what I can and cannot change in life. So, from time to time I may allow myself to bitch and moan about my weight, my finances, and/or the men I choose to date. But even though my knees have started to creak, the bouts of lower back pain I occasionally have to deal with now last a little longer, and certain parts of my body simply aren’t as perky as they used to be, I never complain about getting older.

I figured out a long time ago that I could choose to focus on the down or upside of the aging process, and being an optimist, I chose the upside. And just what is the upside of getting old? Well, I’d say evolving into someone who is more self-aware, being increasingly comfortable in my own skin, and learning to be true to myself in all circumstances (even stressful ones). In essence, with each passing year I am becoming a better and more grounded human being: a person my more nubile, 20-year old self would hardly recognize, much less claim to be.

That’s why, in spite of all the well-intentioned folk who attempt to ‘make me feel better’ about my pending birthday by telling me just how young  I look (according to them, because what does 40 look like anyway?) or am in spirit, I refuse to shy away from telling people my age, or celebrating the fact that with each passing year I learn more about myself and the world around me.

Yes, in just a few short days I’ll be turning 40. But I won’t be the 40-something striving to be 20 or 30 with a decade or two of experience. Nope, not me. Instead I plan to revel in the JOY of actually being 40 – nothing more, nothing less. My 40 is simply going to be the new 40 and as hard as it may be for some to believe, that’s a-ok with me.

Follow B.A. Dobson on Twitter at @BA_Dobson.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Is the Happy Hotdog Man the perfect this-makes-me-gag gift?

When you give someone a gift, it’s important to remember that they will look for the meaning behind it. I think making associations is a good thing to do, and a good way to get ideas for the perfect gift.  For example, a blender is a great gift for someone who loves to make smoothies, an iPod is perfect for someone who loves music, and a gift basket full of body lotion is a great way to tell someone that you forgot about their birthday until four hours ago.

You know the feeling: you give the person their gift, they give you yours and suddenly you realize that gag gift from late night TV isn’t as funny as you thought it was. Maybe they got you something deeply personal or romantic, and you got them some “hilarious” infomercial product, like The Happy Hot Dog Man.

Is everyone familiar with The Happy Hot Dog Man? If not, I’ve included the video below for your viewing pleasure. The Happy Hot Dog Man solves one particular problem: how can we get kids to eat more hot dogs? Go ahead, treat yourself.

Isn’t that amazing?  I thought I already owned a Happy Hot Dog Man, but in my house we call it a knife.

I’ve also never been to a party where “bringing ordinary hot dogs to life” has been an activity.  The little girl was just gushing about how you can cut them like girls and boys and decorate them, and I know you were thinking the same thing as me: she really needs to get some better toys.

Gift giving is like an art form on its own, and it is a very tricky one to master. Go for the thoughtful, creative gifts over the late night infomercials, no matter how tempting they are after the fourth glass of wine. Am I right? Anybody? Whatever.