Smart Tips For Planning A Keiki Party

Hana Joaquin (from left), Maia Libby and Carys Price at Maia's birthday party Photo from Tannya Joaquin

Hana Joaquin (from left), Maia Libby and Carys Price at Maia's birthday party Photo from Tannya Joaquin

It’s hard to top the look of pure joy children have when celebrating a birthday. It can be theirs or a friend’s. It doesn’t really matter. They have a blast no matter what. It’s a bonus if they’re the guest of honor. All kids love presents. That’s a fact.

Now, contrast that with the expressions on the parents hosting the party. More often than not, they appear stressed. Been there, done that.

I take mental notes whenever I attend other parties to get ideas on how to throw a birthday bash without getting worked up and stressed out.

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but we all know that parents in Hawaii are notorious for going overboard for birthdays. I’m guilty of this “offense.” I’ve run the gamut – from having a hula halau and sushi chef for my son’s first birthday, to inviting virtually his whole pre-school for a bowling party, to celebrating at home or on the beach, family only, with cake.

I must confess I thought I would give my second-born the same experiences I did for my first, but like others before me, I’ve scaled down the second time around.

I’ve also tried to borrow smart ideas from other parents. Really, why reinvent the wheel, right?

We recently attended a third birthday celebration for my daughter’s best friend Maia. Her parents went to town with the chosen theme. Her favorite character happens to be Strawberry Shortcake. Places like Party City make throwing themed parties easy these days. They decked out the recreation room and, $150 later, it was transformed into a Strawberry Shortcake paradise.

Maia’s parents had plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. We’re talking balloon animals, bubbles and games.

They also made the genius decision to cater using a restaurant nearby for the adults. The keiki were thrilled with hot dogs, pizza and cupcakes.

Along with some gems learned from Maia’s parents, here are some key party-planning tips:

* Pick a theme and place for the party.
* Make the guest list.
* Send invitations with RSVP instructions.
* Choose and order cake.
* Create menu or choose a caterer.
* Get decorations/gift bags.
* Choose activities.

This was the first party with a pinata I’ve attended in years. It brought to mind the classic scene from the movie Parenthood. When the children couldn’t get the job done, the frustrated dad, played by Steve Martin, finally starts pounding the stubborn pinata with a bat.

Luckily, Maia’s dad didn’t have to go ballistic on Strawberry Shortcake, although he may have wanted to after dropping so much dough on all those decorations!