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Entertaining Bits & Bites: Tips for planning stellar birthday party

Laura Boulton

Laura Boulton

If you traced back to the roots of my party planning, it all began with my daughters’ birthday parties growing up.

From the preschool set through elementary years, when it was still acceptable to have at-home parties, I relished the task. Back then we would brainstorm on potential themes and dream up fun activities.

Caroline loved dogs, so it was inevitable that we would host a Puppy Party in honor of her 4th birthday, complete with a kid-sized, cardboard dog house and puppy games like “fetch” for her and her friends to play. Julia had a candy fascination, so her 5th birthday was our take on the game Candy Land with a Hansel and Gretel style gingerbread house and chocolate bar invitations. My bible back then was “The Penny Whistle Party Planner” by Meredith Brokaw and Annie Gilbar.

A great resource that is still in print today (my girls are now 21 and 19!), and one that I still have in my collection. It has wonderful themes, favor and decoration suggestions.

There are also endless sites for inspiration like Pinterest, Martha Stewart, Passion for Parties, and One Charming Party.

Today, I love all kinds of events, from weddings and anniversaries to corporate events, and everything in between. But at I still have a soft spot for birthday parties. So here are some tips whether you are planning a party for a child or adult that will take your party to the top:

Know your crowd. For any party it is a good idea to know your crowd. If it is a sweet 16 party with guests who are all the same age, then it’s easy to gear the theme and entertainment to them. If however, it is a 70th birthday party with family members and guests of varying ages then it is a bit more difficult. It is important to provide food and entertainment that focuses on the adults, but don’t forget the kid-friendly foods and activities to keep the younger set happy throughout the event

Find the perfect venue and use it to your advantage. Be sure to take the space into consideration when planning your party. Allow room for dancing, tables for food and beverage and make sure your guests have plenty of activities to keep them engaged.

Details make the party. I am a sucker for the little details. A birthday party is the perfect time to play up a theme and have fun with the details that can take an ordinary party to the extraordinary. It can be anything from a specialty birthday cake designed to incorporate the guest of honor’s favorite hobby, to a hot chocolate bar with incredible toppings, or a candy or specialty popcorn table with fabulous containers filled with goodies for guests to take home.

Provide entertainment. Whether you make your party a Studio 54 theme with costumed disco dancers and a DJ, or a country western hoe down with a mechanical bull, make sure you have something to entertain your guests. It could be that one thing that makes your party stand out and truly memorable.

Make it all about the guest of honor. Be sure the food and entertainment reflect the personality of the birthday boy or girl. You can take your guests into consideration too, but choose favorite music or a specialty cocktail that is all his or hers, and everyone will have a great time.

Then go ahead, and enjoy the party planning.

 Laura Boulton has lived in Darien for 19 years. Before starting her event planning business in 2010, Boulton was in the catering business for 5 years. For more information, visit her website at lauraboultonevents.com or follow her on twitter @LBoultonevents

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