Guest Post: How to plan parties for kids

Dino Cake

I’d like to introduce you all to my lovely and talented sister-in-law, Ms. Emily Knight! She’s incredibly creative and wonderful at baking, upcycling, photography, and all things crafty (the project kind, not the deceitful kind). -Elisebet 

In the past few years, it has become more and more popular to throw a themed birthday party, but it often presents itself as a very daunting task. There aren’t any prerequisites to taking on a themed party, but you will need to have a little patience and some organization.

My boys have birthdays within 3 weeks of each other, so we decided to just have one party this year. I’m not sure how it’s going to work out when they get older, but I’m not going to even think that far. At this point, I can’t even believe that they are 4 and 2. Our theme this year: Dinosaurs. When my oldest son decided that’s the kind of birthday he wanted, I was a little confused. He never really showed interest in dinosaurs, except for Rex in “Toy Story” – which were at the time his favorite movies. So for months I would ask him if he’d like to change it, but he was adamant.

For those who have asked me the question, “How do you do it?”, here it goes. Keep in mind, the more parties you do, the easier it gets! So don’t be faint of heart. If your first themed party doesn’t pan out the way you want, don’t worry! Give yourself credit for trying.  Trust me, when I look back at my first born’s first birthday party, I just about weep. Not really. But I say to myself, “What was I thinking?”

Pick and stick to a theme:

Easier said than done.  Before I chose the dinosaur theme this year, I had several other ideas in mind. One was Space – more centered around Buzz Light Year than the entire Toy Story theme.  One was Pirates – the blog that I followed had only a handful of pirate examples, but that’s what I like to see. I don’t usually like to go with what everyone else is doing at the time. And the last and most difficult to choose amongst was Mad Hatter –  I just love the Tim Burton’s Mad Hatter. Well, I think I may just use that theme for my husband’s 30th party. As you can see, the Dinosaur Theme was nowhere in sight in my horizon of birthday themes.

So, as I mentioned before, I made absolutely sure that my boys – most importantly my oldest son – really wanted to have a dinosaur birthday party.  (Especially since I found and bought two GAP shirts that had what looked like a hand-drawn T-Rex devouring a cake with the inscription “Happy Birthday to ME”) I’d say, to give yourself ample planning time, pick your theme at least 2-3 months before. Usually, I like to pick it a year in advance, because when one party is done, I look forward to the next!


I no longer follow just one blog. I Google search my birthday theme and look at the images. This will open a wider option for you to choose from (even more than Pinterest). Believe me, this is one of the funnest parts and there are so many moms with fabulous inspiring ideas. To keep some “originality” to your parties, try to mix it up with other party ideas. If you don’t care about originality, then go ahead, find a party you love and do everything exactly as they did. I can never say that my parties are original since I never invent any of my decor and other projects. But if you do mix it up, your party doesn’t look exactly like anyone else’s.


Once you’ve chosen all of what you want for your party, it’s time to start working! You don’t want to do what I did this year: move to a new house 3 weeks before the party and research and prepare everything after that! Well, I must confess… I did a little research before the move, but none of which I used at the party.

Work on your projects in this manner – most time consuming to least time consuming… This, of course, excludes food making. This will ensure that it will be ready for the party – plus the project that takes the longest usually means that it’s the biggest “wow factor.”

Now that your projects are completed, start planning your menu preparation schedule. If you have multiple things that need to be done in the oven, this schedule is mandatory. This will reveal if you’ll need to cut out some items and alter your menu containing stove top or night-before recipes.

Don’t forget to purchase gifts! My husband is in charge of this, which I guess is his way of getting involved. It is one less trip for me, plus I usually have the boys with me when I do go shopping.


Get your banners, bunting, and other decor out, because the big day is almost here. I like to get the stuff done when the kids are in bed the night before to keep them from getting too excited and can’t fall asleep.  Decorating now is ideal so that you see the big picture and change things around that way you want them if doesn’t look “just so.” Besides, you will have other things to worry about on the day of the party. Just take it from me: decorate now. Don’t forget to make/bake anything that needs time to cool, get iced, or is able to sit overnight without getting gross. Also, don’t forget to wrap or bag those presents!


It never really seemed to matter what time of day I scheduled my parties to begin, I still woke up early the day of the party. First things first. Take a shower, get your party fit and make up on. You may not have time do it later. If it is possible, appoint someone else – aka husband – to get the party child(ren) ready and – as equally important – entertained.

Even though you got all your decor and other projects done, you will still be running around. This is why it’s important to have a schedule or at least a checklist. Unless you’re ultra organized – and I consider myself to be one of those people –  there is always something that will require you  – or someone else – to make a quick shopping trip. If this happens, try to judge whether or not you really need it. If you do, quickly map where you need to go to save on time driving around.

So, you have everything you need? Get cookin’, sister! ( or brother, but I highly doubt that a man would be planning their kids’ themed party, much less doing the cooking. Am I right, or am I right? If you’re a man planning their kids’ themed party AND doing the cooking… You’re a sweet thing, very rare, and an angel.)  Put your cooking schedule where you can see it. I used to tape it eye level on one of my cabinet doors, but now we use our electronics with checklist apps that are pretty convenient… I mean, who uses pen and paper anymore? That was a joke.

 Party Time:

Get this ingrained in your pretty little head: ENJOY THE PARTY! If at all possible, hire –  or simply mandate – someone to take photos of this very memorable event. You’re the host, who will need to guide the party along and start the games and such. You need to be with your kid(s) at all times! This party is just half of a blink in your kid’s life, and you definitely don’t want to miss it.

To see how my dino birthday party turned out look here.

About the Author:

EmilyGrowing up, I was hardly without a camera. There was just something about taking the time to get that good shot, waiting for the film to be developed, and finally receiving an envelope full of memories that may have otherwise been forgotten. In this digital age, I do miss seeing the same developers each time I picked up my photos. However, I am still in awe of what the DSLR (and even my iPhone) brings to my world of photography.

People have asked me, “Why do you take so many pictures?” I say, “Why not?” Something memorable could happen at any moment! Memories are life stories, and photography is a means to story telling. In my opinion, everyone has a story to be told.

-Emily Knight

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Review: Picture Collage Maker for Mac

Photo greeting cards and invitations have become increasingly popular in recent years. As the quality of home photo printers improves, many families now have the capability to print their own. I received a free download of Picture Collage Maker for Mac to review. Downloaded in just minutes from the app store, this program allows me to create collages, save them as images, print, email, etc.


Picture Collage Maker for Mac (retail $19.99) has more than 130 templates available for various occasions and holidays. You can also edit an existing template to fit a different theme. For example, a baby template can be adjusted and turned into a birthday template. Existing templates include wedding, baby, birthday, April Fools’, New Year’s, Christmas, Valentine’s, anniversary, Mother’s Day, and calendar designs. Additional template packages are available at 9 designs for $1.99.

  • Customize and personalize your photos. 
  • Add clip art and text, and move around.
  • Resize, crop, and move images.
  • Add or remove photos.
  • Change photo frames.
My Experiences:

I’ve been using the app daily over the last week, mostly to make collages for blog posts. But I did make a collage of Baby J’s newborn pictures for the relatives. =) I saved it as a JPEG file, emailed it, and uploaded it to our shared Dropbox.

Picture Collage Maker

I found the program really easy to use. When you first download it, a video tutorial pops up, but I think most people can figure out the program without watching anything. Worst case scenario, there’s an undo button. 🙂 Our printer is kaput, so I haven’t tried printing any photos yet. I’ll have to update when I do. My public affairs experiences involved a great deal of design and layout as well as printing images. I’ve learned that the quality of the original image is important, but stretching or cropping a photo reduces its quality. These are things to keep in mind whenever working with photos you intend to print.

There is one thing that I think would make this app better. I’d like to see a font preview before I select the font and apply it to my text. Otherwise, I have to select and apply font after font, until I find a look I like. It’s a painstaking process, when I know there are easier ways out there.

I’ll be using this program to create Mother’s Day cards for both my mom and Hubby’s mother. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll print them or just email them, but either way- I’m sure they’ll be pleased. Moms love photos of their kids and grandkids, right?

Watch this quick video to see how to easily customize a greeting card with Picture Collage Maker for Mac:

Picture Collage Maker for Mac usually retails for $19.99, but is currently 30% off as a Mother’s Day sale. It’s a limited sale, so make your purchase soon!

Note: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Compensated Pink

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