9 Tips for Stress-Free Birthdays
- Scale back the guest list to a manageable size. Follow the old rule of inviting the number of guests equal to the child’s age plus one – so a three-year-old would have four guests at the party.
- Ditch the loot bags full of cheap, useless toys. Instead, incorporate a craft or activity into the party that then becomes the take-home treat. Easy craft ideas include pet rocks, pasta picture frames and beading.
- Don’t worry if the schedule you organized with military precision falls apart. Kids love to run around and play “freestyle” at parties.
- If you prefer not having a gaggle of kids destroying your house, look into renting a community centre or church hall – this can be more affordable than a dedicated party venue.
- Don’t worry about planning activities for parents or trying to impress them. The party is for the kids.
- Revive old-fashioned “low-tech” birthday games such as pin the tail on the donkey, relay races and treasure hunts.
- Whether your budget is tight, or you just want to curb the excessive gift-giving, consider giving your child one special birthday gift.
- Too much stuff? Consider asking for books or canned goods in lieu of gifts to donate to local charities or food banks.
- Skip the party and instead put the focus on family. Allow your child to choose his or her favourite menu or restaurant for a birthday dinner.
Gifts that give back
Many parents are using an online birthday party service called ECHOage. Here, the birthday boy or girl chooses a cause to which guests can make an online contribution. After the party, the website deducts a 15 percent administration fee, then the child receives half the money towards a gift and the balance is donated. “I love the company and concept and think it’s a great way to teach and have fun at the same time,” says Toronto mother of three Daniela Flores McEntyre, whose children’s birthday contributions went to a Free the Children project that opens schools in Sierra Leone. “Not only did my son not miss the gift receiving, it also gave him the notion that each individual contribution counts and that they are NOT powerless to ignite change.”