Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January and February Birthdays

I have a son with a January birthday, so I know how challenging it is to create a memorable birthday party when it falls so close to the holiday season.  It's a bummer for kids when we combine holiday and birthday gifts unless they are teenagers. Then, they are usually fine with it because the price of the gifts seems to have grown exponentially (more than 2X).

So, for young children, what's a parent to do?  Themed parties are always alot of fun, and kids birthday parties built around a theme can be entertaining and set it apart from the crowd.  Here are five birthday party planning tips for young children:

Choosing a theme - Choose a theme that ties into your child's interests and that captures the interests of children at that age.  For young children, animal, train, tea party, and themes which engage kids seem to work well.  Design the cake, decorations and activities around your chosen theme.

Keep it structured, but not rigid - Young children often lack the maturity to bring their manners to others' homes or get overexcited with the fun of a party.  So, plan your party around structured activities, but don't be so rigid that you can't be flexible based on the kids' reactions to the activities.  If something isn't going well, abandon it and move on.  If something is going very well, allow a little more time and eliminate another activity from the planned list so the party stays fun and spontaneous.  It'll be more relaxing for you and you'll be less likely to have kids running wild throughout your house!

Substitute treats for sweets - Give kids something to remember by allowing them to create a craft to take home in their goody bag instead of sugary candy.  Support a healthy lifestyle and good behavior by foregoing all that sugar.  Crafts, toys and activities that enhance fine motor skills carry an extra benefit.

Watch for kids who struggle - A birthday party is not fun for a child who can't figure out how to fit in, who is uncomfortable with an activity, or doesn't have the developmental skills to participate at the same level as other kids.  Young children develop at very different rate, and there seem to be more kids with learning differences, so enlist relatives or friends to ensure the birthday party is successful for all kids.  Pay particular attention to children who may not be able to draw or cut well, who may need help interacting socially, are shy, or are bothered by loud noise.

Stay positive - Invariably, there will be kids who misbehave or need redirection to appropriate activities.  Be positive and help them re-engage positively with other kids at the party by facilitating the right behaviors and interactions.  Praise those using good manners and including others.

Inexpensive craft kits we like for birthday parties at JumpStart Toys, LLC:

    Create-A-Craft Race Car                                                                              Create-A-Craft Train

Paint By Numbers Butterfly                                                                 Decorate-Your-Own Flower Mirror

To view more creative arts or for educational toys, games and puppets, visit www.jumpstarttoys.com.

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