Take the Stress out of Birthday Party Planning

Planning a memorable, fun party for your child and her friends might seem like a major chore, but with a little foresight and preparation, it can be a breeze. The first thing to consider is your budget - and a commitment to sticking to it, no matter what. If your budget is limited, then homemade is the way to go. Having the party at your home or a local park means no rental fees or activities to pay for. Plus, you can bake your own goodies ahead of time - kids love cake, cupcakes or cookies, and colorful sprinkles or other decorations are inexpensive and festive. Baking large sugar cookies in different shapes is a nice way to allow kids to decorate their own with sprinkles and frosting - plus you can give them as favors for guests to take home! If your budget is a little larger, then why not consider letting someone else handle the party? There are many venues to choose from when it comes to outsourcing a party - pizza, fast food and upscale restaurants all offer kids' party packages for every budget. Consider area museums, zoos and even athletics facilities, such as recreation centers and dance studios.

As you look at locations, inquire what's included in party packages - they can vary from just covering the fee to rent the venue or they can include everything, including paper products, decorations, and even cakes or favors. Another expense to add to the tab includes preparation - what will you be giving your child? Factor gifts into the party expenses, and don't forget invitations and thank-you notes for gifts. If you're looking to save on invitations - and the guests' parents are Internet-savvy - then consider sending out e-mail invitations. Sites like Evite offer this free, paperless service, and guests can RSVP via the site. If you'd like to send out paper invitations, then use one of the many templates available online and print your own to reduce those costs. Regardless of what you decide or how much you spend, consider your child's interests and make it memorable!