In recent years, as the economy has boomed, one sector of the interior design industry has enjoyed a remarkable explosion: products for babies and kids to use when decorating children's rooms. We're here to help you figure out how to wade through all that's out there when you're decorating kid's rooms to create a place that's just right for your child or for the child's room of your client.
Party Planning for Kids
When we think of launching into the holiday party season, we usually think of cocktail parties, office parties, New Year’s Eve dances, and family get-togethers. But what about the parties that are just for the kids, or are focused primarily on the younger set?
Parents tend to fall into two camps when it comes to party planning for kids: they either dread the idea and burrow under a pile of recycled gift-wrap, or they take delight in putting together something special for Junior and his friends. Holidays are a great time to plan parties for kids, because everyone is focused on celebrating, and kids can get started on traditions they’ll cherish forever.
To get the most out of a kids’ party, first of all, give the kids space. Remember that the energy at a kids’ party will be 100 kilowatts higher than at an adults’ party, and the noise level will raise the roof. If it’s a big group, consider renting a hall, church rec room, or other big space—you’ll need about two to three times the space you would want for an adult party.
Second, while you can just toss a group of adults into a room, give them something to eat and drink, and let them start talking, kids need a lot more to occupy them. Activity is more important than decorations are—ask Junior about the last party he went to, and he’ll mention the games, not the centerpiece on the table.
Outdoors parties work great with kids, but you don’t have to break the bank taking everyone to an amusement park or zoo. Instead, a group hayride, pumpkin picking followed by carving, apple picking, and later in winter, ice-skating or sledding work great, at a fraction of the cost. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, be prepared to bring the kids inside for a cookie- making, decorating- and eating- party.
As Christmas nears, you might consider getting a small “extra” tree—or using trees outside the house—and having an ornament-making party, followed by decorating the tree together.
To keep things organized, have a separate area for the activity; you don’t want vegetable dip getting mixed up with papier-mâché. Your imagination (and the Internet, and the countless books on kids’ crafts) is your own limitation for activities: potato prints, coloring, handprint turkeys—it’s endless. You just have to be prepared.
A new trend is to invite the parents, too. Depending on your space, you can have one room set up for the adults, another for the kids, and take turns going in to supervise—just make sure you have the shifts for this designated ahead of time.
While it’s great to have refreshments on hand, keep the menu simple and light. Stick to finger foods, healthy snacks, and nothing messy or complicated. This is not the time to experiment with tacos (which will fall apart at the first bite) or crepes. Mac and cheese in cupcake tins, cheese and crackers, carrot sticks, chicken nuggets, raisins and dried fruit. Find out ahead of time if anyone has food allergies or other restrictions.
If you’re having adults as well, try to double up on the snacks, so they’re something that would be enjoyed by both adults and kids—cheese and crackers, crudités with dip, mini-brownies, fruit plate.
Especially if you have a mix of ages, designate a quiet area for kids; all you need are some pillows and blankets nested on the carpet, in a room where the lights can be lowered, for any younger kid who needs a nap or any kid who needs a time-out.
For obvious reasons (see 100-kilowatt increase, above) try to keep the sugar content down—no sugary sodas, and hold the sweet stuff for a specified dessert time. The adults will probably appreciate not having platters of brownies out for the entire party just to save their own waistlines, but it’s especially important that the kids not have free access to sweets throughout the party.
Kids love goodie bags with a passion: it may be hard to understand for those of us who groan at yet another cute post-wedding bag of candied almonds and travel-size shampoo. The contents of the goodie bag for kids aren’t as important as the simple fact of just having one. You can make them inexpensively with plain paper or plastic bags filled with stickers, tiny plastic animals, crayons. Save these until the goodbyes at the door.
If you have your own kids and the party is at your home, you’ll have first-aid supplies on hand, but if the party is outside your home, bring a first aid kid with sanitary wipes, Band-aids, tissues, and a couple of top-secret incentives to sooth meltdowns, such as a packet of balloons.
You can get started on becoming an event planner today by signing up for NYIAD's event planning course.