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Stress-free tips to planning a birthday party for kids

My son recently celebrated his 7th birthday. And while birthdays are milestones for kids, they're often big headaches for mom and dad. Well, since this is my seventh time planning a shindig, I thought I'd share my tips for having a stress-free birthday party for kids that you can actually enjoy. 1. Don't have it at your house Let's be honest, while there's something nice about having people over, a dozen or more screaming and messy kids will probably result in more clean up time than actual party time. And you can't have any fun if you're worried about things getting broken, dirty hands on the wall and spills on the rugs and furniture.

Planning a kid birthday party

2. Let other people do the work If you don't have the party at your home, you can have it at a space where people are paid to do the work for you. Whether this is a bowling alley, roller rink, inflatable play space, sports complex or Chuck E. Cheese, all you need to do is give them your money and possibly bring the cake. Most of these places now include invitations, food, goody bags and activities, so you literally just show up. Score!

3. Be selective Many of us have this strange need to invite the entire class and everyone our child has ever played with. Don't. My son actually makes his own list of people he wants to invite and I embellish with family, family friends and anyone else I think should be included. If your child is too young or wants to invite the world, try to at least narrow it down based on who you've heard him or her speak about, or who he or she has had a play date with. And just because you went to someone's party, doesn't mean you have to reciprocate. There's always extenuating circumstances, like cost, boy party or girl party, location, timing etc. It's your money and your child's party, try to remember that.

4. Gifts Don't take up time at the party - and bore everyone - by letting your child open up gifts. Save this for later back at the house, where you can keep a list of who got what so you can send thank you notes. This also ensures your child doesn't blurt out something like "I don't want THIS!" or "I already have this" in front of the gift giver.

5. Have fun It's your child's party but you should have fun too. Make sure you mingle with the adults and the kids, snap lots of pictures and even play a bit with the birthday boy or girl. Let them know that Mom and Dad are having a blast too. And since you aren't in your home and someone else is charge of the party, there's no reason not to.

Planning a kid birthday party

Got any great advice on planning a birthday party for kids? I'd love to hear it.

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