Great Kids' Birthday Parties: Tips From Colin Cowie
Woohoo! It's your kid's birthday! And you know what that means ... you're responsible for entertaining 20 screaming, sugar-high kids for a few hours. Yikes! But before you stress, read on! We sat down with party planner-to-the-stars Colin Cowie to snag his best tips for planning kids' birthday parties.
- Keep it simple! You don't have to go over the top for a party kids'll love, says Cowie. Some easy ideas that require little planning: Pick up a bunch of bubble machines and have a bubble-palooza party. Turn to the classics with a piñata, musical chairs or Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Instead of hiring a professional clown, dress up like one yourself (or even better, get your partner to do it!).
- Keep it short! "The amount of time spent is not as important as the quality of time spent," says Cowie. So try to keep the party to hours hours max, and to stave off boredom, keep things moving! Start the activity as soon as the kids get there, serve the cake last (before they start bouncing off the walls) and send 'em on their merry way! Wham, bam, thank you Mom!
- Take the theme to the max! Let your kid's interests (Play dough? Princesses? Pancakes? Whatever!) dictate the party theme, and then incorporate it into every aspect of the party, says Cowie. Having a pirate party? Make everything shout "Argh!" For a craft, have the kids make little tissue paper parrots to perch on their shoulders. Set up a plank for the kids to walk. Hand out bandannas and eye patches and send 'em off on a treasure hunt. Get into the spirit yourself and dress like a pirate and only speak to the kids in pirate-ese.
- Let loose! Kids have energy and actually want to run around. Take advantage of it! Have a game of tag. Set up some DIY carnival games. Or take a cue from Cowie: "The most extraordinary kid's party I've ever thrown was a construction party in a client's home that was being demolished. Each kid was given overalls and directed to a table of art supplies with every conceivable arts and craft material they could dream of! The only instruction was that—unlike at home—they had to paint on the walls, draw on the floors and use glitter and glue everywhere!" You may not have a spare house to demolish, but you get the picture!
- Make all the kids winners! Every kid should leave with a prize or a goodie bag, not just the kid that scored the highest at the bowling alley or smashed the piñata to the ground, says Cowie. You can keep the prizes small and inexpensive so that you can afford to get one for everybody. And consider getting one nice thing for each kid, like a small book, a tiara or puppet, instead of a bag of random goodies. "But no matter what you do," Cowie says, "make sure every kid leaves feeling like a winner!"