How I get more joy and less stress out of my kids’ birthday parties

Jessica Zimmerman | Personal Blog | Child Birthday Party

I’ve been doing kid birthday parties for four years and it took me half that time to figure this thing out. Here’s what I do to make sure I actually get to be present during the parties – you know, like actually talk to the people there, watch my kids as they blow out their candles with my actual eyes and not through the viewfinder on my phone – and have zero clean up when the party's over.
 

  1. I don’t have the party at our home.

    After two years of having our kids’ parties at home, I said, “No more!” First of all, there is all the stress of cleaning and making sure everything looks presentable. Second (and maybe even more important) you can’t kick people out of your home. If you have the party at another location they take care of the prep, the clean up, and there is an end time so you can easily scoot yourself out the door!
     

  2. I don’t personally make any of the food.

    It can be as easy and as cheap as picking up pizza, but I don’t make the food and I don’t make the cake. Again, I want to be excited leading up to the party, not stressed about all the mouths I need to feed.
     
  3. I pick a theme early!

    I talk a lot in my business education classes about high season and low season. January isn’t a super busy time of year for us, so during this time I can take the time to pick the dates and themes of each party. I also order anything that needs to be ordered (party favors, games, etc.) during this month so that way when the actual birthday arrives, I have all the stuff I need. I’m ready to go!
     
  4. I hire a photographer.

    Every November I not only annually plan and create a budget for my business but I create a personal budget for our family, too. I budget in advance to hire a photographer to capture the moments of the birthday party so I don’t have to. I want the memories documented through photos, but I also want to welcome our guests, catch up with my friends, and presently watch my kids as they enjoy their party. I can’t do that and take pictures too. 
     
  5. I ask a reliable friend to video the “Happy Birthday” song.

    I want to see my kids blow out their candles with my own two eyes. I want to stand beside them. I want to joyfully sway side-to-side as I sing “Happy Birthday” to them. I have someone photographing it, but I ask a reliable friend in advance if they’ll please video it on their phone and text it to me so I have it.
     
  6. We don’t open gifts at the party.

    We want the focus to be on enjoying one another’s company, having fun, and fellowship. It’s much easier to simply let the kids unwrap their gifts later on when we get home.
     
  7. Timing is everything.

    I have found that 90 minutes is the perfect length of time for a good birthday party. I don’t want to take up our guests’ entire weekend afternoon, and I also don’t want to plan a ton of activities. I make sure not only to put the start time of the party on the invitation, but also put the end time! 


Here’s a little look inside Stella’s Trolls themed 4th birthday party and Perry and Zeke’s Mickey Mouse themed 2nd birthday party.

All images by Drew Cason.