Kids often look forward to their birthdays for months, which can put a lot of stress on you as a parent. You may feel pressured to throw the perfect party, but let go of all that stress! Just because your neighbors threw a $3,000 circus-themed birthday party for their child doesn’t mean you should, too. Birthdays, like Christmas, often get out of hand. They become about getting things instead of celebrating people. At the Ed Young Fellowship they talk about “taking the circus out of the family.” Reality television shows like “My Super Sweet 16″ and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” have glorified narcissism and consumerism. Is that what you want to teach your children to value? Or, would you rather teach your children how to celebrate life, friends and family…without drama? Pastor Young and his wife Lisa know from first-hand parenting experience that striking the balance between special and spoiled can be hard work.

Here are five tips to help you plan a party, stress-free, so you can concentrate on parenting:

Use a Timeline
Doing tasks well in advance of the party decreases the stress leading up to the big day. Print out a timeline for your party and add any steps that are unique to your gathering. Follow it carefully so you complete the steps as far in advance as the timeline suggests, leaving you with less to do on the day of the party.

Shop Smart with a Package
Rather than shopping separately for all of your birthday party supplies and decorations, consider getting a matching set of supplies that cover all your bases. You can find lots of options online and get the set that best matches the party’s colors or theme. It’ll all be ready to go when your party arrives, and you won’t have to tote your kids with you as you try to track down all your supplies.

Consider Buying Prepared Food
If you’re planning on serving more than cake and a few snacks, taking care of the tasks like shopping, planning and cooking can be stressful, so using prepared food, either from a local restaurant or from your grocery store’s deli, like sandwich trays or veggie platters can be a lifesaver when it comes to maintaining your sanity during the party. Ordering your food in advance at stores like Costco or Fry’s, is so easy because all you need to do is pick it up a few hours before the party.

Have a Plan for Cake Time
It’s time to cut the cake and all the party guests are anxious to get their slice. If you’re prepared in advance with your tools and techniques, you’ll be ready to dish out a dozen plates in minutes, leaving everyone happy. Waxed, unflavored dental floss is a great tool for cutting sheet cakes. For ice cream, either cut it into blocks with a knife or pre-scoop it and put each scoop in a cupcake liner to leave in the freezer until you’re ready to serve.

Prepare an Emergency Activity
If everything goes wrong on the party day, have a plan b.. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, bringing out the Play-Doh or turning on an animation movie are the best sorts of activities because they don’t require any preparation. Having a backup plan gives you peace of mind that you have something to fall back on.

Through each part of the planning and execution process, remember that the party doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to let your child and his or her friends get together, eat some food and participate in a few games or activities.

Categories: Stress Tips