Since the time our kids have been little, we’ve never made it a standard practice to always have a birthday party with friends on their birthdays. We do different things each birthday, depending upon what they decide they would most enjoy that year.
Sometimes, we’ll do an experience gift and all do something together as a family. Other years, we’ll just have a simple dinner out as a family and presents. Sometimes, they’ve had a party with extended family. And sometimes, they have a party with friends.
While traditions are great, changing things up each year depending upon what the child is most excited about keeps things fun and interesting.
Why We’ve Had Our Kids Plan Their Own Parties
On the years that the kids have decided to do a friend party, they’ve planned their own parties themselves — and they’ve had a blast doing it! We always discuss ahead of time what they are thinking as far as who they’ll invite, what they want to do, and when they want to do it. And then I have them create a guest list, make an itinerary for the event, pick what food they want to eat, and create a list of what they need to buy/make/have on hand.
Not only have our kids loved being in charge of the planning of their parties, it also teaches them great life skills on how to think through, organize, and execute an event. Plus, they seem to enjoy it a lot more since they’ve been so involved in the whole process.
And, of course, I always give them a budget to work with!
Kaitlynn’s 13th Birthday Party
Months ago, Kaitlynn asked if she could have a friend birthday party for her 13th birthday. I had said yes — and then COVID-19 happened and everything shut down. She was so sad that it might affect her birthday party plans that she had been working on and talking about for a few months.
Gratefully, our area opened back up again the month of her birthday and her friends’ parents felt comfortable with having their girls come to a small party at our house. I was so thankful as our kids (as all kids) have had to give up so much this year.
Here’s a little peek into the party Kaitlynn dreamed up, planned, and executed almost entirely all on her own — for less than $200!
She used some items we already had around the house, lots of balloons, and then a few items she got from Dollar Tree and Amazon. The best part about the decorations was that almost all of them (including the Happy Birthday Balloon banner) can be used again!
Kaitlynn decided to keep it simple and just plan one game. From what I understand, she made this game up.
She bought a variety of hair accessories from Amazon/Dollar Tree and she put them in baskets. Then she had the girls draw names to pair up and they had 30 seconds to collect as many accessories as they could.
Each pair of girls went into separate rooms and she gave them 7 minutes to come up with and fix person in their pair’s hair in the most creative hair style they could think of.
Then, we all convened back in the living room to show off the hair creations. It was quite funny and really impressive what people came up with. The game was a hit with all of the girls.
In typical Kaitlynn fashion, she spent hours combing through Pinterest to come up with the perfect spread of food. 🙂
She changed the menu multiple times in the weeks leading up to the party, but a few days before, she finally settled on: Chocolate Croissants (she bought these and then drizzled chocolate on them), Jell-O filled Lemon Peels, Mini Pancakes, Fruit Skewers, and Rose Lemonade.
She made all of the food herself and also set up the spread all on her own. I was so impressed with how it turned out — and also that she figured out how to make sure everything was ready at the same time and that they kitchen was cleaned up, too. (That’s a skill I’m still working on perfecting myself!)
I loved seeing her find so much joy in putting the food together and making everything so pretty!
Kaitlynn set up a photo booth upstairs complete with Polaroid cameras. Then she had string and little clothespins for the girls to hang up their photos after they took them.
Of all the things at the party, this may have been the biggest hit. They spent a LONG time taking pictures and laughing and coming up with different photo groupings to do.
The best part about this was that after the party, Kaitlynn had all these fun photos to remember the day with!
Kaitlynn put together a gift sack for each girl to take home (she loves giving and receiving gifts — it’s her love language!). The gift sacks had a face mask (an expensive one she had gotten on a really amazing sale the month before!), hair products, and other fun girly things in them.
The party ended up being a huge success. It was so thrilling for me as a mom to watch my daughter work so hard to plan and prepare for it and to see it all come together and for the girls to have such a great time together. I sat in the other room just listening to them talk and laugh together and it filled my heart up so full!
Also, I think Kaitlynn might have to do more event planning in the future as she did an amazing job of it!