The new trend in birthday parties: simple at-home celebrations with themes tied to your child's interests and classic games just like the ones you played with your friends. For a low-stress event, plan the five major elements of a great kids' party, choosing from the ideas we've gathered here plus tips from celebrity parents. Then savor the sheer joy on your child's face as you host a party she'll always remember.
Postcards With Punch Easy to address and fun to receive, a postcard invitation announces the theme or lets your child show off his artistic ability. For a swimming party, choose vintage beach postcards; for an art party, pick paintings from a local museum or let your child draw pictures on blank postcards; for a sports party, send postcards of a local stadium or blank cards decorated with sports stickers. A personalized alternative: Glue a photo of the birthday child to the back of a postcard.
Lucky Charms Build excitement by adding a tiny trinket to the invitation: a seashell for a beach party, a rubber animal for a zoo or nature party, a packet of seeds for a garden party, or a button, pin, or fabric patch that expresses your theme.
Tube Time Guests will love receiving a surprise-filled invitation in a 2" by 12" mailing tube. Send chopsticks for a party featuring Asian food, a kid-size jump rope for an outdoor party, a colorful toothbrush for a slumber party, or a small poster for a sports or music party.
Computer Art The birthday child can help create one-of-a-kind invitations on a computer. Make a personalized certificate or flier that fits the theme, scan in your child's photo and print it in sepia tones or black and white on colorful paper, let your child choose a decorative border and typefaces for a more traditional invitation, or make a photo collage or photomosaic invitation with editing software such as PhotoSuite 4 or Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.