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How to Throw a Birthday Party in Less Than 24 Hours

Confession: I’m a terrible parent sometimes. 

This past May, my second child turned four years old, and I am (only slightly) embarrassed to admit I didn’t plan or think seriously about hosting a party for her until the day before. For weeks leading up to her birthday I was bombarded with questions, “Mom! Can I have a swim party?“… “Mom, can we invite Charleigh to my birthday?” …. “Mom, can I have pink cake for my birthday?” I would distractedly nod my head as I went about each busy day and say we’d talk about it later.

And then – suddenly – it was later.

The morning before her birthday, I had a panic attack got to planning a last minute party in order to satisfy celebrate her. 

And you know what? It was perfect. 

Meda had the best time and it was full of exactly what she needed and wanted – her friends and family celebrating her … and the gifts, of course.

Here are a few ideas on how to plan a child’s party in less than 24 hours.


Invites

The internet is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Without time to snail mail invitations, we can jump on PaperlessPost.com or Evite.com to create online invitations. I use Evite quite often when I need something completely free, but if I have a few credits available, I will use Paperless Post, with their more “life-life” virtual invitations.

Don’t have email addresses for other parents off hand? Look up contact info in school directories and take a quick screenshot of your invitation and text or email it. 

Or don’t use an official invitation at all. Run around the neighborhood and leave index cards (decorated by your child, if there’s time!) with party time and place in neighborhood kids’ mailboxes. Or text friends with kids, “cake at 5:30!” Your friends will get the point and other mothers will applaud you for getting one together in time. 

Tip: With such a last minute get together, it may be a good idea to let guests know gifts aren’t necessary, and just their presence is requested. It can be hard to last minute shop for a child you don’t know well.

Moral of the Story: Get info about the party out quick and easy. Whatever it takes.


Decor

Rule #1 here is minimal. Meda, at only four years old, was completely satisfied with the Party City balloons I had blown up and let float around the house. The kids at the party got a kick out of them too and ran around like banshies through the dangling string.

Don’t like balloons? Have your kiddo make her own decor with pictures drawn or sidewalk chalk leading up to your door.

Or, better yet, don’t need to use any decor. Simple as that. We’re not here for a jazzy Pinterest party with less than a day until party time.


Food / Cake

If you lack culinary skills in the kitchen, like I do, this part may be tricky. After calling around town for Meda’s party, I settled on Frost Bakery. This was the only bakery around that A) wasn’t going to break the bank and B) had what I needed in stock and I didn’t need to pre-order. (Clutch, Frost. Clutch.) A dozen single flavor mini cupcakes put me back $12/each, so I chose a couple – strawberry (remember she wanted pink?) and vanilla. They had a $15 option for 3 flavors, as well as regular sized cupcakes. If you are looking for a regular cake, you may be out of luck, as they sell them by the slice in store, so you may not find a full cake available, last minute.

As I was running to and from bakeries, I got on the phone and called in an order for Papa Murphy’s for “adult” pizza that I could throw in the oven, and then swung by Little Caesar’s for Hot ‘n Ready “kid” pizzas. (Hint: I probably made the pizza situation a little harder than necessary, but I was craving Papa Murphy’s Mediterranean pizza and knew the kiddo’s wouldn’t eat it. So Little Caesar’s and Papa Murphy’s it was.)


Games

Want to know the beauty of a kids’ birthday party? They can entertain themselves for the most part if their friends are around. I grabbed some basketballs, scooters/bikes (with helmets), water balloons (with towels) and threw everything in the backyard and they had a blast entertaining themselves.

If you feel the need to entertain the kids with a game, simple games like Duck Duck Goose, Charades, Red Rover, or a treasure hunt are easy games that will keep kids entertained for a long time.


Have you ever thrown together a last minute party or get-together for your kiddos? What tips do you have?

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