40 Tips for a Hassle-Free Birthday Party

Favors, Entertainment, Gifts, Food

Let Us Entertain You

Should you hire entertainment? It's not necessary for the kids. But it may make the party more enjoyable for you.

11. If you can't afford the cost of a magician or clown (they can be pricey in some areas), consider hiring a couple of teens to do some face painting.

12. Or, if you've ever taken a parent-child music class and have the book and CD, try adapting the classroom activities to your party by providing the kids with inexpensive instruments, music, and space to dance.

Do Me a Favor

Kids adore goody bags and may even expect them, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune.

13. The parents will love you if you opt for one biggish item rather than an assortment of small toys that often end up scattered all over the house.

A box of sidewalk chalk, a tambourine with the child's name on it, a set of maracas, or a travel-sized doodle board will make most kids happy. Parents will also appreciate if you go easy on the candy.

14. If you do want to go the more traditional route, visit OrientalTrading.com. There are literally thousands of inexpensive items to choose from.

Gift Dos and Don'ts

15. Do tell people what your child would like if they ask.

16. Don't open gifts during the party.

17. Do send a quick thank-you note. (An e-mail is fine, as long as it's personalized.) Your effort will be appreciated.

18. Don't set up a gift registry online. It's too much for a party.

Catering to Kids

19. Finger foods make everyone's life easier -- you don't need to provide cutlery, and your guests aren't trying to chase a toddler while balancing a plate of pasta salad. Sandwiches cut into quarters, veggies and dip, fruit on skewers, bagels, and muffins are just a few party-friendly food ideas.

20. If you're serving a crowd of toddlers or preschoolers who are all going to eat at the same time, chicken nuggets (don't forget the ketchup!) or Bagel Bites are easy on your budget and quick to pull together. The excited party-goers are often just too wound up to eat very much, which is why you don't want to spend too much time or money on the meal.

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