As may be clear already, in Team Taylor we love to celebrate and create magical events for our children to remember and relish. It’s such a fun, exciting, creative time for the family and we look forward to ‘party season’ (four birthdays in 10 weeks) each year and all the creativity it brings. However, what we can also tell you is that no matter how fun and creative a task might be it is not fun and it is not creative when you are doing it at 3am the night before the party. I learned this lesson after our eldest child’s first birthday and vowed to never again let the party situation get out of sync with real life. So every year we get smarter and smarter with our time, budget and energy, to ensure minimal stress and maximum fun for the family during party season.
What does this look like? We’ve already spoken about the importance of the party reflecting your child, their passions, ideas and personality, but presuming you’ve got this in hand, the next most important thing every good party needs is a really great plan. I think there are two parts to this.
Firstly, you need to make sure that your plan is ‘in sync’ with the time, energy and budget you have available. For example, if you have limited time and energy (and no obvious helpers) you will need a simple party that doesn’t require a lot of work, or you will need a more extensive budget (and pay for things instead of making them). Likewise, if you have a limited budget but an elaborate plan, this can still work well if you start working on the party early and have lots of time and energy for DIY, shopping around, making everything yourself, researching and experimenting with what will work best. Having the key factors of time, energy and budget in alignment with your plan and vision for the day will make all the difference to the overall success of the party and will reduce the stress in the planning. The second part of having a great plan is the master planning document where you can compile lists, set out activities and keep track of different aspects of the planning process.
I do my first cut of my planning document at least one month out (putting invitations aside). The document has the following headings – guests (dividing the children into age brackets), schedule for the party (what will happen when), set up (how the house/back lawn/food table/drinks table will be set up), activities and games, food (including how all of the food will be presented) and drinks. As we work through this and set out exactly how we imagine everything is going to look, feel and flow under these headings, I compile my ‘to do’ list as well as my ‘to buy/source/borrow/hire’ list and my ‘supermarket’ list. I also have a list for printables – things that I am going to create on the laptop and print out in colour for the party.
I start with a big ole’ brain dump of tasks and then organise them into who will have primary responsibility for the task (Josh, me, a helper or a child) and then group them into when they need to happen chronologically (a month out, a week out, the day before etc.). Josh and I then make sure this aligns with the family calendar in terms of our other commitments. Danielle van Rossum from Fete Accomplice (feteaccomplice.co.nz) uses Google Calendar to block out time for each task and if too many things start to overlap, she knows she has to start earlier, free up more energy, increase the budget or downsize the plan. Alternatively there are a number of apps out there for event planning for the more committed planner! So that’s the basics of a good plan and a good party. Next time we will cover time and energy saving tips to make the planning process as fun and smooth as the party itself.
The digger party
When Ari turned two, Violet was not yet two months old and somehow we also hosted my sister’s baby shower and organised my mother’s 60th at the same time! So we chose to downsize his party, rely more on others and also increase the budget slightly, acknowledging the constraints on our time and on our energy. It was a small, relaxed affair and I was happy to ‘let it go’ and have others bring the food, take care of the cupcakes and even make his birthday cake. We kept the numbers low, the decorations simple (we whipped up the caution tape in 10 minutes) and focused on what Ari would love the most (digging in the bark). It was easy, didn’t impact on the family in a negative way and he loved it!