Secrets To Magical Kids’ Parties

Over the past twenty-one years, my husband and I have thrown dozens of kid parties for our three children. While a few of these celebrations were just okay, the majority were memorable. Some were even magical. Here are the important lessons we’ve learned along the way:

It’s all about involvement

I can totally understand the desire to throw a big bash and invite every adult friend in our address book to celebrate a child’s first birthday. The accomplishments of the first year of parenting are certainly worth celebrating!  Generally, however, I appreciate parties geared toward creating a meaningful experience for the child. I’ve found the surest way to do that is to let children take the reins as much as possible by inviting their active participation in every aspect of the event, beginning in the planning stages. Who knows our child better than she does?

This let-the-kids-do-it-whenever-possible approach is reflective of child specialist Magda Gerber’s approach to children’s play, and creative projects (and just about anything else children are involved in). Gerber suggested we trust children to be the writers, directors and lead actors of their play in order to maximize these opportunities for self-motivated learning, problem solving and creative expression. So the party hats we wear are those of a support staff: assistant producer, set designer, go-fer. We let our children do the rest (to the extent of their abilities and interests).

Naturally, the younger the child, the more she’ll need us to do, but we can keep the festivities child-centered by considering her interestsand planning around them. For example, the theme for our son’s second birthday (with his stamp of approval) was one of his favorite songs, “Eensy, Weensy Spider”. He posed for the invitation, which was co-designed by his six-year old sister, and then picked out a few inexpensive spider-themed party favors from a catalogue. We invited family and a couple of his buddies, ate cake, and a spidery good time was had by all.

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