Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Party Planning like a Pro: Guest Post by Mel of The Larson Lingo

My good friend Mel from The Larson Lingo is our guest blogger today. I can think of no better person to post on the 4th of July, as Mel is a party-planner extraordinaire! My kids have been invited to many a Larson party and each and every one gets better; every detail well thought-out and beautiful. I hope you enjoy her helpful and thorough post. Read all the way to the bottom for a chance to be entered in TWO awesome giveaways. But first, a bit about Mel:

Mel is married to her best friend Kevin. She loves Jesus, her family, photography, soccer, coffee and wine. Mel is a full-time mommy to two girls with Baby #3 due next month. She is a part-time 7th grade teacher and soccer coach. Mel also designs birth announcements, invitations and holiday cards in the wee hours of the night. Boulder the wonder dog completes their family. Welcome Mel!

was thrilled when Becky asked me to post for her birthday week. I love Becky & I love Birthday parties!

My love for planning parties exploded after I had my first daughter, Kate. I had so much fun planning her first birthday party and since then, my love for parties has increased 10 fold. I thought I would share some party planning tips that I have learned over the past 5 years of planning birthday parties. These will work if you are planning a small party or a larger party.

1. Pick a theme
I am all about the theme. I try and pick a theme that is reflective of what my girls like at that time in their life. I give them suggestions on what their party theme could be and sometimes they go with it and sometimes they pick something totally different. For example, for Kate's 4th birthday, she wanted a Cinderella party. I am not a fan of the "commercialized" themes but she was all about Cinderella and no other party theme would do, so of course we had a Cinderella party. I didn't use a lot of Cinderella decorations, but mostly used the Cinderella blue & purple (to incorporate Kate's favorite color)

When you pick a theme, it helps with the party planning because:
1. It focuses on what your child likes at that age (and will be fun to look back on)
2. It gives you direction & focus for the party
3. You can get creative with decor, food & games for the party if you have a theme

2. Invitations

Once you have your theme, it's time to send out invitations. To me, the invite sets the tone and gets people excited for the party. You can make your own invites, send out an evite or order one. I learned how to make my own invites in photoshop, but if you don't know how to do that, you can make some with scrapbooking supplies or order them online. I like including a photo on my invites (mostly so that I can look back & see how my girls have changed over the years). Don't know how to make your own? No fear...stay tuned for a giveaway from my Etsy shop at the end of this post!

3. Plan Ahead
I am some what obsessive about planning parties for my girls. I will start planning them in my head 9 months before their birthday. (Yes, I know I am crazy). Once we have a theme picked out, I keep my eye out for things on sale/clearance the months before the party. For Kate's Cinderella Party, I was able to get Cinderella books in the $1 spot at Target 4 months before her party. These were the perfect party favor for her guests. And, for her Rainbow Art party, I got markers, crayons & notepads for $.50 during Target's Back to School Sale (6 months before her party!)

I also keep a list of what needs to be done for the parties in a notebook. This way I can map out things I need to get done ahead of time.
6 weeks before the party I make the guest list, create the invites & go shopping for party goods like plates, napkins & cups.
1 month before the party, I mail out the invites.
2-3 weeks before the party I make the cupcake toppers, food labels, favor tags & other decorations.
1-2 weeks before the party, I have the favors & favor tags ready to go.
The week of the party is spent with last minute prep & food shopping.
The night before the party, I usually stay up WAY too late getting last minute things done, like food prep & cupcakes. But as I throw more parties, I am getting my groove down and not leaving as many* things to the last minute.
The more I plan ahead, the more relaxed I am (and my family is) on party day!

4. Location, Location, Location.
Before we moved to our current house (2 years ago) I always had my girls' parties at locations other than our house (our old house was small & had a tiny backyard). So, I used other locations like my parents house, the park, our neighborhood clubhouse & an indoor bounce house place). But, for the past 2 years, the girls' parties have been held at our house. I prefer having the parties at my house (but I know other people who avoid having parties at their house so they don't have to deal with the clean up, which, I agree is fabulous)
The reason I like having them at my house is so that I don't have to lug stuff from my house to the party place. I like having everything I need at my house & it allows me to focus more on the little details of the party (food labels, dessert tables, etc). I LOVE doing dessert tables!

Again, this is personal opinion, so to each her own!

5. Know your Limits & Have Fun!
If party planning & throwing parties for your kids stresses you out, then don't go overboard.
Many times people have asked me how I handle throwing parties for my girls.
The reality is, I thrive on throwing parties. I LOVE it. It doesn't stress me out at all.
I enjoy spending hours on pinterest getting party inspiration.
I love thinking of all the little details to make each party special.
I love seeing the theme come together.
I love creating all the handmade food labels & cupcake toppers.
I love when my girls tell me they had the best day ever at their party.
If this type of thing just adds stress to your life, then know your limits and keep the party simple so that you aren't overwhelmed!

You can click HERE to see all the parties I have thrown in the past 5 years.

Again, there is so much more I could expand on, but these are 5 little tips that will help you with your next party! And, to make your life even easier, I am offering a giveaway to 1 lucky reader!

The winner will win an invite design from my etsy shop, 25 invites/envelopes, 25 cupcake toppers & 25 favor tags/stickers.

Hooray for Birthday Parties!


Another day, another chance to be entered in the big birthday giveaway! Leave a comment on this post to be entered in a chance to win two awesome cookbooks. 

AAANNDDDD...bonus giveaway, starting today! One lucky commenter will be awarded the giveaway to Mel's shop in addition to being entered in the cookbook giveaway. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a giveaway to Mel's etsy shop.

Answer this: party planner or party pooper?


Tracy Gholson said...

I want to be a party planner, but admittedly in the past I've fallen short. Love the looks of all the parties that are color coordinated and have love thrown in!


The Perfect Trio said...

I long to be the party planner. Unfortunately I usually wait til last minute and I become the party pooper.

Teale said...

I love party planning! Pinterest is my favorite thing ever now. It really helps you with ideas!

elektricshaver said...

I wish I was a planner, but the anti-social beast in me is a pooper. Bah humbug!

Mitzi Loves Elly said...

Party planner! It is so much fun to have a vision and run with it! I love everything from start to finish but the best part... my children's reaction! Happiness and great memories to cherish!

Justin & Haley said...

100% party planner!!! With a 3 week old baby boy there is always something to celebrate! Thanks for the fun giveaway!

Sheri said...

I love party planning! Thanks for the opportunity to win :)

Samantha said...

I love the planning! So fun!

Rae said...

Party Planner. . .LOVE a party.

Angee @ Sunshine in my life said...

Definitely a party planner!

Jeymmy and Jason said...

Love the idea of planning, but in the end I'm a party pooper!

Lauren said...

With a baby shower coming up - I need all the party planning advice I can get. Love seeing Mel's parties all play out on her blog. They are amazing.

nutrendmedia said...

A professional party planner will know exactly how to plan your party based on what type of party you are planning to host.

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Hailey Andersen said...

The one good thing about a party for small children is that you don't have to worry about things like drinking or getting in appropriate. My teen wants me to get a party bus rental to take him and his friends into the city for his birthday party. Even with hired help, I still don't trust them. My advice here is just this: Enjoy your kid's youth and innocence while you can.

john henry said...

Planning is very necessary for every Childrens party and the professional will tell you the exact children party ideas like:how to plan your party and which theme is best for your party? so,if you celebrate children's party with excellent style then try any playcentre's team and professional's help.

Sarah Johns said...

You do not need to spend lavishly to celebrate awesomatic robot birthday party, and it would also be a unique idea.