Some people pity children with December birthdays. I say embrace them! For my daughter’s recent 7th birthday party, we hosted St. Lucia Day celebration inspired by the classic American Girl book. I enlisted the help of Camp Crafty Parties to bring my vision to life. And, today Lilly, the founder of Camp Crafty Parties, is giving us some tips for simplifying themed birthday parties!
I love a good themed birthday party, especially unique themes. But I don’t like super fussy or stressful. Lilly Neuabauer, my friend and owner of Camp Crafty Parties, agrees! When I came to her with my idea for the St. Lucia party, I wasn’t sure how to make it fun and enriching for the girls. She immediately came back to me with the most darling ideas.
During the party, the girls made beaded wreath crowns for themselves and their dolls while Lilly gave them a lesson about the brave little Swedish girl who brought light to those in the darkness with her faith. It was sweet, simple and no junky favors which I liked!
I asked Lilly for tips on simplifying a theme party. Here’s Lilly:
Tip #1: Follow the Interests of Your Child
Even if I’m tempted to cringe a little at some of the ideas my child gets as birthday party inspiration, I try to find space where I feel I can make a tangible and memorable experience for our guests that also honors the wishes and interests my child held this year.
Even with a theme that is based on a child’s interest that we may perceive as trendy, parents can use popular culture as a spark to introduce new concepts to their child and guests. Lee used the Christmas season and her daughter’s interest in American Girl to teach young ladies about a beautiful holiday tradition from a different culture.
This year, my daughter loved Moana and hearing about my parents’ trip to Maui, so we found a local Polynesian dancer to come demonstrate and teach us about the history of Hula dance. A Paw Patrol interest could lead to a visit to the local fire department, who are often graciously willing to host birthday parties!
Tip #2: A Little Color Goes a Long Way
I try to remind myself that even when my daughter wants a trendy theme for her birthday, I’m not obligated to purchase everything (or anything!) with licensed characters printed on it. Instead, I try to introduce an opportunity to look at color theory. What colors do we often see associated with Frozen? Blues and purples, which evoke cold, ice and even royalty.
For our Moana party, in lieu of Moana cardboard cut-outs and plates, we sourced our party goods in bright shades of green, pink, red and yellow inspired by the rich colors of flora that live in the tropical climate of Hawaii.
For the St. Lucia party, Lee used a beautiful white table cloth that looked like snow against her holiday garland of winter greens and reds she used as a runner. There may be linens in your home that just need a little inspiration to come to life with your party theme!
This can become a fun challenge at the party store! Look beyond what is readily available in a theme and see how you and your child can create a feeling using only simple colors. I have more peace of mind purchasing disposables knowing I can repurpose a plain red plate for future events vs. something like a snowman plate.
Tip #3: Make It a Sensory Experience
To me, when a child wants a themed party, he or she is hoping to bring a special feeling to life with loved ones – that feeling of watching the movie, visiting the place or reading the book. Scientifically, the more senses are activated in any life event, the more engaging and memorable it is. Something as simple as making a playlist for your party together with a movie soundtrack or cultural songs can bring your guests into the experience as soon as the door opens and song fills the air – for free!
Fresh greenery and pinecones on Lee’s table brought crisp winter scents to the room. The girls made bracelets out of berries and leaves. At our luau, we served a simple snack of popcorn in husky coconut cups. Just holding them made us feel like we were on the islands!
Tip #4: Let the Magic Happen
Of course, I am a big believer that a hands-on activity for children is educational, sensory, and brings your concept to life! One reason I was inspired to create Camp Crafty Parties was to help parents in this endeavor. Often, crafts I see for children’s parties are not only closed-ended (leaving little to children’s imagination), but also require a lot of prep work for parents – usually hours worth of precise cutting beforehand just so little hands can add a dab of glue!
If you’re considering a craft element for your party, I encourage you to keep it simple and open-ended – something that does not require a lot of prep or errands. Pipe cleaners, sequins, felt, beads and glue in your party colors can go a long way when children add their imaginations!
In my experience, space for magic inspires longer and less frustrating work for little guests, more exciting conversations and deeper connections. Of course, I’m always happy to work with you to bring your idea to life and make the craft table an engaging, exciting experience for your guests as you relax and enjoy the day yourself!
I believe parties not only celebrate the child but also another year of hard but rewarding work of parenting. You deserve to be present at the party yourself, catching up with friends and available to observe your child delight in his or her special day! My main advice would be to welcome your child (and any additional help you may have the resources for) into the event planning so you can be in your best state for a memorable day you created for your family – that’s also yours to enjoy!
Thank you so much, Lilly!
If you’re in the Dallas area, Camp Crafty comes right to the party venue, provides everything needed, helps set up and clean up, and leads the activity.They have many unique craft ideas to choose from, or you can work with Camp Crafty to come up with a unique activity to match your theme! The creator of Camp Crafty believes that memories are made through homemade activities and handmade souvenirs. Read more about Camp Crafty Parties here! And see follow their Instagram page for more inspiration!