Planning a party is one of the parts of a parent’s job description that can be the most daunting. What’s age-appropriate? Where are the best places to consider as party venues in Huntsville and Madison County? How can you throw a good party and stay within your budget?
We plan on helping busy parents find the answers to those questions and more in our series, “It’s My Party”, where we invite real, local parents to share their great party planning experiences with other readers. Whether you’re faced with a birthday, baby shower, adoption, or christening, we hope we can make it easier for you! Our Birthday Party Planner should definitely be in your bookmarks bar – it puts ALL the local party resources here in town at your fingertips!
Do you want to participate and share your personal party experience with other Huntsville parents? Just fill out our secure submission form here.
Big thanks to RCM reader & writer, Katie D., for sharing her wonderful ideas!
Age & Gender of the Child: 2 boys, plus now 1 girl: starting ages 2 & 5 continued on every year…but this party works for any child
Party Theme: Valentine’s Day
Party Location & Facility Rental Costs: None, typically I host it at my house, but you could rent a clubhouse or a community room at a church or the YMCA. I think the YMCA or typical clubhouse rentals are around $150.
# of Party Guests: 15-20 is ideal, but we have had over 40 (it was packed in the house and a little too chaotic, we are going to pair it back to 15-20 this year)
Make yourself and email or cut out construction paper hearts and glue invite (see below for wording). Really, email works the best.
Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Friday, (your kiddo’s name here) is Having
a Valentine’s Day Party for You!
Please forgive the informal invitation. [kiddo’s name here] would like to invite your child to a Valentine’s Day Party at their house [insert day, date, and time].
Come for as little or as long as you wish. There will be games (and prizes of course), confectionery and yummy food! Parents may stay and mingle or drop off and pick up….your choice! Classmates may ride the bus home with [your kiddo] from school.
Cake & Food
- Iced Sugar Cookies (my sugar cookie dough that I make for Christmas is enough for two batches, I freeze half and thaw to roll out for the Valentine’s party!)
- Peppermint Patties, or whatever yummy candy you want to serve
- Peanut Butter, Jam, & Butter Heart-Shaped Sandwiches. If you have peanut allergy sub out with cheese sandwiches, just jam, or sunflower butter.
- Pizza – this depends on the time of day, but typically I do a pizza to help them have something besides sugar
- Fruit Platter – I tend to make little baggies of washed grapes and tie with red ribbon..really cute and cuts down on the mess
- Cheese & Crackers – whatever you like I do a cheddar for the kiddos and a couple selections for the adults
- Lemonade, Water, Sparkling Water (see the no color in the drinks? This is on purpose and will protect your carpet..thank me later!)
- Brownies cut out into heart shapes
- Crostini: Olive tapenade topped with slice of roasted cherry tomato (insert your adult food here)
- Crostini: Pesto topped with piece of fresh mozzarella and cherry tomato half drizzled w/ evoo
- Artichoke Dip and Bread/Crackers
(some variation of this—something for the kiddos and something for the grownups that stay)
Games & Activities
The games are the most important, because with the games come the kids’ favorite part…the prizes!! If parents stay, ask them to hide the hearts and then help with the guesses for the ‘guess the kiss’ game.
- Find the hearts game – hide paper hearts around the house and have the kiddos find them
- Freeze Dance – blast some music and the kids freeze when the music is turned off, and then eliminated if they are still dancing, prizes to the last kid standing
- Guess the Kisses – big jar of Hershey’s kisses in a jar, kids right their guess, closest wins!
- Pass the Balloon – like hot potato..final kid wins
- Pass the Parcel – wrap several layers or box within boxes, pass the parcel, each time the music stops a child opens one layer, this repeats until the final layer reveals the prize and the kiddo who unwraps it, wins it!
For the favors just get assortment of small fillers: toys, pencils, and a couple piece of chocolates or suckers plus a box of conversation hearts.
Prizes: Always have gobs of prizes and yes, some may not get any, but everyone gets a favor and it increases the excitement. The big money prizes are always the valentine chocolate boxes (you know the ones that cost $1-1.50 at the dollar store or any drug store? Yes, those!! Big winners); also included some easy valentine’s trinkets like stamps or sticker books or glittery note pads
Online Resources You Used to Plan
- Favors- I have used Oriental Trading, but with planning and cost I find that the dollar store, Wal-Mart, Target, and any drugstore work just fine.
- Food Ideas – just Google kid valentine’s food. Anything in the shape of a heart is a winner!
- Games – Google again for the win. Kid’s Valentine’s Party games and came up with our go-to list.
What did you like best about this party? Why are you recommending it?
When we lived in London most days were pretty blah (in terms of weather), think Grey, Grey, GREY! In the winter we would have about 5 hours of sunlight, so we wanted to throw a party for my son’s class during winter to break it up and we needed to do it inexpensively, quickly, and with as little stress as possible. So what’s a good excuse for a party in the middle of winter? Valentine’s Day!
OK, here’s the thing: this party is not going to win awards for how cool it looks, or admiration on Pinterest or Facebook, but it is an easy party to throw in the doldrums of winter. Let me tell you, the kids love it (did I mention the prizes enough times??), the parents like it because either they get to socialize if they stay ( I always plan a few menu items for the adults and have a bottle of red and white at the ready) or it’s a party where they can drop off and have a few minutes to themselves. Best of all, there’s NO GIFT – it’s not a birthday or any other occasion where a gift is necessary. YEAH!
In any case, this is now our 5th year of this now-annual event and it became quite the hot ticket before we left London (ok in the children’s world ages 4-10), and now in its 2nd year here, I am hoping it will gain the same kind of anticipation. It certainly provides lots of wonderful memories for my kiddos.
The decorations are simple, think a packet of construction paper and lots of cut out paper hearts stuck on the wall. The games are easy with very little expense and the prizes are pretty cheap $1-$1.50/each but the kids are super excited over them.
The key to the party is a good emcee (someone with a loud voice that can help direct the kiddos from one game to the next..my hubby always does this for me), the games, and the prizes.
Was there anything you’d do differently?
If I could afford it, I would love to have this party at our clubhouse or at a community room. The older the children get, and the more people that come to the party equates to a higher likelihood of breakage, which is never good but also not completely unavoidable. Maybe next year we can change the venue. This year..our little Evelyn has zapped the “extra money” we might have had to put towards that effort. It’s ok though – the house is a good place and has served us well for the last 4 years.
Do you want to participate and share your personal party experience? Just fill out this online form.
Katie Mullins Demirjian is a mom of 2 boys and a newly added baby girl, a wife, and a banker by day. She loves all aspects of food: eating it, cooking it, and baking it! She is frugal, but likes to splurge occasionally. She resides in Madison with her brood, back from a recent 3 year stay in London.