My boy just turned 8 last week. His little sister and I went to his school to surprise him with a birthday cake I had customised from Cupcakes by Sonja’s, a tall chocolate cake with his favorite marshmallow frosting. The cake inside was done just right: soft, moist, delicious and very chocolatey, no wonder the kids from his class wiped it out in no time!
That night, we celebrated at home with a simple dinner with close family and friends (just 10 of us) and he got to blow out another candle. There’s no such thing as too much cake, right? Especially when it’s your birthday!! This one is Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake by Roshan—luxuriously rich if I may say, so if you like your cakes sweet and decadent, this is it!
I thought that was the end of it. Since he had told me that all he wanted on his birthday was a cake at school to share with his friends. No fuss. Thank goodness, I thought; I was off the hook!
Or so I thought… because he changed his mind soon thereafter! My boy, a sweet charmer, asked me if he could have a “real party” with his friends at home. And so there goes my few free hours out the window! I had a few days to prepare for his Saturday birthday bash!
Saturday came and it was fun. But not without a few hitches! There were more kids than what was expected (he said he invited only 8 and a total of 18 came!) and I had a packed schedule that day.
How did I manage it??? With lots of willpower and help! And mostly, keeping things in perspective: to stay true to the purpose of the celebration (which is to let the birthday boy enjoy and have fun) and not go over the top with party planning.
Party planning for me needs to be practical and not just festive. Trust me, I like things to look nice and pretty of course, but I also work with a sensible budget! 🙂 The key is finding the right balance in preparations. And having a few tricks to make an event a success, even if you are given only a moment’s notice.
So what are my tips for last-minute party planning?
1. DIY according to your capabilities.
I’m no beginner to birthday parties, having three kids and so many birthdays in the last twelve years. But let me the first to tell you that I’m not the master crafter or the best home baker out there. I am, at best, an event organizer—which means I know who to tap to gather my party essentials.
Besides the time crunch, there were a few extra hurdles. My boy’s current obsession is a game I am not familiar with. I don’t play video games AT ALL, so I had no idea what he was talking about. He wanted a “Clash of Clans” party. What was that?? Of course, Mummy here had zero clue what that meant!
I called my ever reliable friend, Maan of Party Starters and explained to her the situation. Not only did she understand what the theme was, she had something ready for me quickly! She had exactly the materials we needed to make this Clash of Clans party come to life.
Party Starters has always helped me in my previous parties. Their DIY Kits have been my secret lifesaver for my past birthday parties too.
2. Have a theme to ground your planning.
I’m a very visual person, so I like to imagine how things will look like. A theme guides me to the details I need to work on to make the party a special one.
The details need to be thoughtful and not complicated. Take a look at this simple hot air balloon centrepiece, which is, I am told, an important part of the game:
And the kids were thrilled too to see familiar Clash of Clans icons such as these gold coins and arrowheads matched to their favorite candies:
In short : use your theme to tie up all the party essentials in an easy but cohesive way. And just keep it simple!
3. Stick to tried-and-tested food favorites.
For children’s birthday parties, the simpler the food, the better.
Kids’ food is fairly basic, but it doesn’t need to be boring. They also don’t need much to be impressed. My go-to menu for kids’ party is one with wholesome, tasty, and easy-to-eat choices.
I chose my childhood favorites : spaghetti with meatballs, chicken lollipops, beef nachos from Gourmet Garage Catering and made sandwiches with homemade cheese pimiento and rainbow bread from Nicole Ortega.
And of course, this is also the best occasion to include treats too like chips and donuts!
4. Have a party plan.
It doesn’t matter how formal or casual your party is, you need a plan. I didn’t hire an actual entertainer or magician or mascot, but I made sure I had a party host, someone who can lead the kids’ games, give away of prizes and to just keep the party rollin’! (Admittedly, Mummy here can’t do it all!)
Talking about having a party plan, one must also be ready for things not going according to plan! Eight expected guests felt manageable when this party was being talked about. Eighteen kids arriving? Now that was a little surprising and overwhelming!
5. Allocate your budget wisely.
As I said, I choose to be practical with parties. This means, I will save where I can and splurge on a few special items. I didn’t bother with the venue decor anymore (notice there are no flying balloons, big pompoms, loud banners etc?) since I knew that’s not really what matters most to the children.
What I had were a lot of printables and giveaways which had the theme Clash of Clans all over it.
And, really, just lots of fun games and activities as these are the things that excite the kids more!
And if you still have a few extra left to spare, I will also say: hire a good photographer. This allows you, the host, to enjoy the party as it happens and, after that, to have beautiful photos to commemorate it with—and you get to be in the photos too! We know it’s not easy to be in the picture when you’re the one in charge of everything, so might as well leave this duty to an expert (or ask a friend who has good enough photography skills to do it for you). This is one less thing for you to micromanage.
Do you have your own party planning tips? Share with me in the comments!
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