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 party planningNo matter the size of your family, there’s always someone’s birthday just around the corner. Maybe it’s time to pull out all the stops and plan a great big birthday bash for someone in your clan. Find some cousins, aunts and uncles and celebrate several birthdays in one gigantic do. Here are some ideas to get you started on planning an event you’ll be talking about for years to come.

Birthday parties for the Kids

Major Cook-in: At the end of this party guests will have made an individual pizza and a large batch of cupcakes. For the adventurous, each child may also have helped to concoct a tin of homemade ice cream. Preparation will include finding recipes, old men’s shirts or aprons for cover-ups, and shopping for the ingredients for the recipes. Enlist several adult helpers to oversee the basic cooking steps at stations and to keep safety in mind when using the oven or sharp knives. Put together pizza dough ahead of time and allow each child to roll the dough (tossing optional), spread the sauce and add toppings of their choice. Kids will enjoy helping to grate cheese, chop veggies and layer on the pepperoni slices. At another station hand mix the cake batter, line muffin tins and fill them, bake and then ice and decorate the cupcakes. For a recipe for roll-in-the-can homemade ice cream go here: Rolled Ice Cream

Art Party: Gather old shirts or plastic garbage bags for the kids to wear as cover-ups. Purchase items to paint such as birdhouses, flower pots or vases. Even rocks and pieces of wood will work. Buy colorful paints, brushes and let the art begin. Or, purchase inexpensive t-shirts and puff paints at a craft store and allow each guest to create their own individualized t-shirt masterpiece. Another option is to allow the guests to work in pairs to do face painting. This might work best with sedate girls and not over-active boys. Another fun option is finger painting… wait for it… with feet! Put down an old sheet on a lawn or driveway, place finger paints in paint trays, dip in the feet and let the kids create. It’s fun. You’ll also need a tub of soapy water and some towels for clean up.

Make My Day Party: This party has an entirely different tone from the first two. This one will require a gathering at the beginning or possibly in advance of the party. In the meeting kids will decide on a neighborhood project that will encourage someone or encourage a group of people. Maybe the kids will decide to make a craft to share with a local home for seniors. Or maybe they’ll identify an elderly neighbor who could use a yard clean-up. Perhaps a neighborhood park or play area could use some sprucing up. Maybe they’ll decide to set up a lemonade stand and give the proceeds to a local charity. Whatever the decision, give the kids ownership of getting ready for, and actually doing the labor involved. Kids love to give and share. Give them the chance.

Birthday parties for Teens

A Night on the Town for the Girls: Spend the weeks before this teen party gathering up old “dress up” clothing. You might find old prom gowns, bridesmaid dresses, thrift shop finds and back of the closet treasures. When guests arrive the first part of the party is finding a suitable outfit for each guest. The second step is the hair salon. Each guest has her hair done by another, as fancy as you want. Then it’s on to make-up and nails. This part of the party may take all afternoon, but the finale comes when the entire gang, all fancied up, is loaded into cars and taken to dinner or a movie. Don’t forget to have boas, shawls and old mink stoles to wear out into the night.

Poker Night for the Guys: Set up card tables with cards, poker chips and lots of table snacks. Provide some background music and non alcoholic drinks. Throw in some more eats in the form of pizza or burgers and maybe a few prizes for the biggest winner and the biggest loser. Guys are easier—they just need the basics.

Eighties Theme for Guys and Gals

Send out invitations to this eighties scene including words like totally awesome and gnarly. Girls will come in big hair styles, miniskirts, off the shoulder t-shirts and leggings. Guys will wear skinny ties, levi vests and Miami Vice-style jackets. The dance playlist will include Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran and Cyndy Lauper. Karaoke will bring back the old favorites of the 80’s and trivia games and rubik’s cubes will be a radical way to spend the evening. Neon decorations and a bright-colored cake will get the group totally stoked.

Birthday parties for the Grown-ups

Woodstock: Guests can’t enter through the door unless they’re dripping in tie dye, beads and peace signs. Beaded curtains, long colorful skirts and bell-bottom pants are also in vogue. Get out the Beatles, Stones and Crosby Stills and Nash and Jimi Hendrix vinyls, create a psychedelic painted cardboard bus for a photo op site, and watch out for the electric kool-aid punch.

Ladies’ Spa Party: This one is easy provided each woman is willing to both give and receive. Set up stations for hair styles, facials, manicures, pedicures and shoulder massages. Put on soft, soothing music, have finger foods and drinks available and just relax.

Poker Night for the Men: Same as for the teenaged boys. Just get out cards and poker chips and keep the hot wings coming.