Parties are back in full swing. If you’re like a lot of families, this year’s birthday party may be the first one you’ve hosted in a while. Feeling rusty with your party planning skills? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered, starting with these “Smart Mom” tips and tricks.

Let the Planning Begin!

  • Invitations can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Kids love getting a “real” invitation in the mail. Look for printable themed invitations on websites like, create your own or purchase fill-in invitation cards. Online invitations are quick and easy and make it easy to keep track of who’s coming.
  • Be a considerate guest! Try to respond as soon as possible to a party invitation so the host can plan accordingly. Don’t bring siblings to the party, unless they’re specifically included.
  • Set up well ahead of party time, keep it short and stick to a schedule. Enlist the help of an older sibling or hire a neighborhood teen.
  • Get the kids involved – they can help plan food and décor, choose the music and put together favor bags.
  • Shop smart – visit your local dollar store for great deals on paper goods, decoration, prizes and favors.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. It’s easy for party expenses to get out of hand when you’re shopping for food, decorations and favors.
  • No gifts, please! Avoid toy overload with a gift-free party. Have your child pick a charity and ask guests bring donations for a food pantry, toys for a children’s hospital or supplies for an animal shelter. Older children could invite their friends to a service day to benefit their charity.

A Party for Every Interest

  • For the sports fan: Take in a game or have a backyard sports competition
  • For the young chef: Host an at-home cupcake decorating party
  • For the outdoorsy kid: Plan a green party with nature-themed scavenger hunt and games
  • For the animal lover: Create an at-home safari party or bring in a petting zoo
  • For the girly girl: Host a spa party or a fancy-dress tea
  • For tweens: Plan an “after dark” party with glow-in-the-dark games and activities
  • For the art lover: Set up stations with paints and canvas, tie-dye sets or collage materials
  • For the scientist: Host a STEM party with fun experiments and science-themed games

Take it Outside – Fall Fun Makes it Easy

Hike Into Fall: Go for a hike in a state park, take a picnic and make s’mores over a campfire. Find out about the amenities of nearby parks at The Chattahoochee National Recreation area, with trails along the river, also offers great spots for hiking.

Time for a Fair: The perfect spot for a party, these fairs and festivals have rides, entertainment and more. Gwinnett County Fair, Sept. 15-25; North Georgia State Fair, Sept. 22-Oct. 2; Cowboy Festival and Symposium, Oct. 20-22.

Party at the Park: Take the party to one of Atlanta’s many local playgrounds, where kids can climb, swing and play for free. Many parks have a pavilion or picnic areas that can be reserved in advance or rented for larger groups. Parks we love: Elizabeth Porter Park in Marietta, Swift-Cantrell Park in Kennesaw and Historic Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta.

Three Easy Party Themes

Over the Rainbow
Food: Fruit skewers in every color of the rainbow, rainbow layered cake and veggies on trays grouped by color.
Décor: Rainbow striped tablecloths, party hats in every color and jars with layers of colorful M&Ms and Skittles.
Game: Rainbow bucket ball. Line up buckets of different colors; each guest gets a colored ball and has to throw their ball into the matching bucket to get a point.
Party favor: A pack of markers and rainbow-colored paper, tied together with rainbow yarn. Top each with a bag of M&Ms or a rainbow lollipop.

It’s a Circus!
Food: Chicken fingers, popcorn, cotton candy, cupcakes topped with circus animals.
Décor: Colorful balloons, red-and-white striped tablecloths and paper goods, “step right up” banners.
Game: Beanbag can toss. Cover large cans with colorful paper and stack in a pyramid. Kids take turns tossing a beanbag to see who can knock over the most cans.
Favor: Popcorn bucket with boxed animal crackers, clown nose and a set of jacks.

Backyard Campout
Food: Hot dogs and topping bar, s’more-making station, “campfire” chocolate cupcakes topped with pretzel “logs” and orange and yellow frosting.
Décor: Tents and teepees (real or DIY), lanterns, blankets for picnicking.
Game: Hula hoop croquet. Cut hula hoops in half and insert cut ends in the ground to create a course. Kids take turns kicking a beach ball through the course. Fastest time wins a prize!
Favor: Mini flashlight, compass and a bag of trail mix, tied up in a bandana.

Party Like a Pro: Easy Hacks

Ice Cream Cone Cakes
For a twist on the classic party treat, fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full with cake batter and top each with an ice cream cone. Bake 16-22 minutes and cool completely. Remove the paper liner and frost, then decorate as desired.

Birthday Yard Décor
Make an affordable birthday yard greeting with colorful cardstock. Cut and adhere letters to cardboard squares; glue or tape wood dowels to the back of each letter for display. Don’t forget the decorative fringe!

Mary Williams

Recent Posts