EL176074KENTUCKY (5/19/17) — Childhood is filled with many memorable moments. Among the more memorable are children's birthday parties.

During their children's formative years, parents may wrestle with ideas, themes, etiquette, and more as they plan birthday parties to remember. Hosting birthday parties that touch on all the right notes can be easier if parents follow a handful of strategies that many parents have been employing for years.

Involve your child. Chances are your son or daughter has been plotting out ideas for his or her party since last year's festivities ended. Ask questions about what he or she would like to do this year. Seek your child's input on the guest list and preferred theme. Playing an active role in party planning can make kids even more excited about their birthday parties.

Focus on fun and making your child feel special. Some parents feel birthday parties must be expensive and all-encompassing bashes. But many children simply want parties that allow them to participate in an activity they enjoy, eat sweets and share the experience with their closest friends. Recognizing this can help parents keep their workloads and budgets in check.

Trim the guest list. Parents should not feel the need to invite every acquaintance to their children's birthday parties. Parents understandably don't want to exclude or offend anyone by leaving them off the guest list. However, try to limit the guests to around 10, including the guest of honor. This makes the entire party more manageable.

Keep it quiet. Make sure your child avoids bragging about the party at school or at extracurricular activities. Doing so many offend those classmates who are not on the guest list. Send invites directly to homes rather than distributing them at school so that no one feels excluded.

Develop backup plans. There's no accounting for the weather, illness, venue cancellations, or food flops. Always have a plan B (and, ideally, a plan C and plan D) so that the kids can stay entertained.

Encourage drop-and-go. Hosting young children can be stressful. And when parents attend the party as well, entertaining duties expand to an entirely different level. Recruit another helper or two and be sure parents know you are comfortable with them not staying for the party. They may even appreciate your looking after their children for a few hours.

Plan for additional guests. Part of planning for the unexpected includes being able to accommodate a few extra children. You never know when a sibling will have to tag along or a last-minute invite pops up, so keep some extra snacks and favors on hand just in case.

Open gifts after guests leave. Opening gifts is time-consuming, and young children may not be adept at filtering their comments. No one should go home feeling their gift was not appreciated.

SurfKY News

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