An Event to Remember - MetroFamily Magazine
MetroFamily Magazine

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An Event to Remember

by Mari Farthing

They come around every year. So why is it that planning for birthday parties always seems to come as a surprise?

This year, do a little pre-planning to create a birthday party that won’t break the bank but will provide fun and happy memories for all attending. Specialty retailer Party City partnered with celebrity event and home stylist Tara Riceberg to develop party themes for all ages using a variety of items that can make your party frugally fantastic or extravagantly exciting.

Punky Princess Party

“Whether she has Beiber fever or moves like Beyoncé, rocking out to the latest pop songs is what every tween girl wants to do with her friends,” said Riceberg. For girls, Riceberg developed a party that any tween diva would love. Her tips for this party:

  • Put together a playlist of pop songs that will get the party girls dancing from the moment they walk in the door.
  • Provide a table of glittery accessories, including sparkling stickers, bracelets, rings, necklaces, hats, tiaras, fluffy petticoats and sunglasses. Attendees can accessorize on their way into the party.
  • Print out “headshots” of your kids’ favorite teenage dreams and “autograph” them with birthday greetings.
  • Use accessories to decorate the venue— fluffy tutus can double as centerpieces or lampshade accessories; Paper Jamz guitars can decorate the walls. At the end of the party, these accessories become the goody bag items for party guests.
  • Hang old record albums or make your own out of black poster board for high-impact, low-cost wall art.
  • More information about this party theme.

Pirate Adventure Party

Riceberg shows how to effectively mix themes in a Pirate Party for boys. This party takes a little bit of SpongeBob and a little bit of pirate and mixes it together for a fun undersea adventure. Her tips for this party:

  • Use inexpensive crepe paper streamers to transform your party venue. “Layering bright royal blue and ice blue crepe streamers along the ceiling create an under the sea look,” said Riceberg.
  • Provide a treasure chest of accessories for party guests—eye patches, bandanas, pirate hats and faux tattoos are fun ways for boys to get into the theme.
  • Extend your theme with a little creativity in the food that you serve on the buffet. Use your imagination when labeling platters and mini burgers become “crabby patties” while tater tots become “barnacles.” •
  • Send your guests on a treasure hunt to find a piñata filled with golden coin loot, and play games along the way.
  • More information about this theme.

Sports-Themed Party

Have a football (or baseball or basketball) fanatic with an upcoming birthday? Make a tailgate-themed party that will impress any sports fan. Riceberg suggests color-coordinated and teambranded items to make a sports party to remember. Her tips for this party:

  • Use crepe paper streamers and balloons that match your team colors to decorate your venue and make it festive and fun.
  • Serve tailgate-friendly food such as ribs, chips, guacamole and burgers. If you can’t find your team logo on your paper or plastic ware, use team colors instead.
  • Want to take it over-the- top? “Line the driveway with a ‘green carpet’ of Astroturf, instantly transforming the entry way,” said Riceberg.
  • Decorate with miniature footballs, helmets, baseballs, basketballs— accessories from whatever sport you are celebrating. These items can then go home with your guests in their goody bags, serving a double purpose.
  • More information about this theme.

Baby Party

A baby-focused theme can celebrate baby’s first birthday or even a baby shower. According to Riceberg, the details are what makes this party theme amazing. Her tips for a beautiful baby-themed event:

  • Incorporate clothing items when decorating. “String white baby onesies with clothespins to create a special garland over a fireplace or buffet table,” said Riceberg. Clothing items can double as gifts for the party honoree.
  • Think outside the norm for accessories. Use hair bows for napkin rings, cloth diapers for napkins, diaper pins on place cards, centerpieces made of baby toys or books.
  • Apothecary jars or other large, glass containers filled with colorcoordinated candies make a festive decoration and an easy takehome treat for your guests.
  • Layer paper plates and plastic chargers to make an elegant table setting.
  • Decorate the ceiling with inexpensive paper lanterns or wooden letters suspended from ribbons spelling out the baby’s name.
  • More information about this theme.

Backyard Carnival Party

Bring the circus to your celebration with a carnival-themed party! Decorations and activities with a carnival theme will engage guests of all ages in the fun. Tips for a fun carnivalthemed party:

  • Serve carnival-friendly foods like popcorn in paper cups, cotton candy, foil-wrapped hotdogs and shaved ice snowcones.
  • Decorate with brightly colored streamers and balloons for a festive look and feel. Bright primary colors like red, blue and yellow will enhance the carnival atmosphere.
  • Set up activity booths around your venue with hands-on fun for guests. Include ideas such as face painting, sand art, bean bag toss or a fishing game. Give a ticket for each booth or activity and let guests exchange the tickets for goody bag “prizes.”
  • More information about this theme.

Girls’ Night Celebration Party

Princess parties aren’t just for little girls—big girls enjoy a blinged-out party as well. Older girls and adults will enjoy a girly event where the point is to be fabulous. Tips for a fun girls’ night party:

  • Greet your guests with a disco ball at the entrance and fun dance music to get them ready to move and have fun!
  • Provide fun accessories to get your guests in the mood, including bling body tattoos, animal print cowboy hats, feather boas, sparkly beads or faux oversized gems.
  • Decorate with bling, boas and fun accessories. Use unexpected materials like mirrored tiles with lipstick writing for place cards or menu cards. Frame a mirror and leave a few tubes of lipstick nearby so guests can leave a festive party note.
  • Create a menu of fun girly “cocktails” and serve them in pretty glasses. What will be included in your Pink Lady or Posh Punch?
  • Use bright or wild fabrics in lieu of tablecloths, table runners or wall décor.
  • More information about this theme.

Boot Camp Birthday Party

Have a patriotic party in the works? A few simple decorations and activities will send your party attendees straight to a boot camp of fun. Ideas for this party theme:

  • Serve “field rations” to eat. Use pre-made lunch kits or make your own using a divided tray for each participant.
  • Decorate with patriotic colors or camouflage. Provide fun items like bandanas, rubber bracelets, faux dog tags and plastic helmets to enhance the mood.
  • Let attendees decorate a helmet or goody bag with patriotic stickers. Give each guest a customized sheet of stickers with their last name on it so they can wear their names on their shirts.
  • Make an obstacle course to keep your guests busy. Incorporate about five age-appropriate activities to get them moving. A few ideas for obstacles: hula hoops to jump onto or hula with; balance beam to walk across (which could be a length of tape on the floor); tunnel to crawl through; or a short ladder to climb up and down.

More Tips for a Memorable Celebration

Your personal touches can be on every part of your celebration, from start to finish.

Set the tone of the party with your invitations. “Customized invitations give guests a sneak peak of the event and a feel for the atmosphere to be expected,” said Riceberg. Be sure to get coordinating thank you notes when you select your invitations.

Make food part of the activity—small cakes or cupcakes can be decorated with fun food coloring, icing and sparkly sugars. If you can’t find the paper goods to match, use bright colors that compliment your theme.

Did you set the tone of your party with a special playlist? Burn that to a CD and present to your guests as a party favor.

Take a lot of photos at your event and present your guests with a framed photo before they leave, or with a fun photo book sent with their thank you cards later. What a better way to remember the party than with images from the event itself? The most important thing to remember when planning a party is to have fun.

Mari Farthing is the Editor of MetroFamily Magazine.

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