Friday, May 29, 2009

Planning a Party

I love to host parties. I enjoy every aspect of the party, from the planning and preparation to the event itself. I think the only thing I don't enjoy is cleaning up when the party is over, in part because it means cleaning, in part because it is usually at the end of a long day and in part because it means the party is over.

One thing that I have learned with time is how if you plan, you can reduce the costs of throwing a party. You can save money by doing your own invitations, or better yet sending them on-line; you can save money by making your own decorations and planning your own games; you can save money by making your own food and cake. The good news is that the web is full of great ideas and services that can help you do just that.

The first thing that I determine when there is going to be a party is the theme. When it comes to birthday parties, I generally allow my kids to choose their theme. I like to go all out when it comes to the theme, from invitations, to decorations, to activities, to the cake. My biggest challenge is that while I am creative, I need a little inspiration to help build the full party around a theme.

I recently was introduced to an on-line party planning resource, PurpleTrail. I like what I see. They offer party ideas, invitation suggestions - both in style and with wording, decoration suggestions, e-mail invitations (without ads) and on-line event planning, downloadable games and more.

If you are a mom like me, most of the big parties you are planning with a theme are for the preschool crowd. One such party you might find yourself hosting is a Dora the Explorer party for your little explorer. When you search for Dora the Explorer on their site, you wind up on a party page that provides suggestions on decorations, games, and activities. It even includes a listing of their most popular articles for this party theme.

For any party to be a success, there must be food. As you plan your Dora party and wonder type of food to serve, you can read the food article and find links for some Mexican foods that kids will enjoy. Since the cake is the most important food item at a birthday party, it is nice to note that they even offer links to themed cakes and cupcakes for your party. The links in the food article take you to the Nick Jr. page.

Once you have decided on what you will eat, you likely will want to figure out how to entertain your preschool party crowd for a good amount of the party. For inspiration, click on the party games and activities page. Here, you will find suggestions on how to set up your own Dora Scavenger Hunt or set up a Make Your Own Backpack table. If you want to go all out with decorations, they even provide suggestions on how to build your own forest or jungle.

One last thing that you typically include at your party is party supplies and goodie bags. In the party supplies article, you will find links to an online retailer that sells theme appropriate tableware and supplies (in this case it is Birthday Express).

Dora the Explorer is just one example of a party theme that you can find at PurpleTrail. In addition to birthday party suggestions, you can find baby showers, wedding showers, any day parties, 4th of July picnics, and more. In fact, if you are looking for a reason to host a party, they even have a section called Reasons to Celebrate - where they list the upcoming days like Flag Day, Father's Day and Summer Solstice - that are all reason enough to party.

It really is a great way to find inspiration for planning your party. They can be your all in one tool, providing links to you to other sites that have the resources you need - whether it be themed recipes or a place to buy themed tableware - and saving you the effort of searching for those other sites on your own. The best part is that the information is free to access. And, while you are there planning your party, you can set up and send your online invitations to all of your party guests. Some features require paid membership to use, or in the instance of the downloadable games you can either pay for the game or if you get a paid membership, some are included.