Don’t let your little one’s preschool or kindergarten graduation pass by without fanfare. Remember the momentous milestone and their special day with these fun ways to celebrate.
1. What’s a party without a cake?
Whether your grad’s party is the real deal or just a classroom celebration, make it memorable with a celebratory graduation cake like this adorable one from Sugar Creation. It makes use of a dummy cake for the top layer, which makes it a little easier to create… assuming you have decorating skills on par with hers!
2. Get a special graduation shirt to mark the big day.
You’ll eliminate the “what to wear” battle on graduation day and likely many other days, too, with a special kindergarten graduation shirt. After the celebration, let them wear it to show they’ve been there and done that.
3. Bring kindergarten graduation gifts for the class.
With a little thinking ahead, you can take your own kindergarten graduation pictures to freeze the day in time. You’ll love pulling it out in 12 years or so to compare to their high school graduation photo.
5. Create a Memory Board.
This affordable, printable chalkboard template is a cute way to remember the year. You can record their favorites, the names of their best friends, and memorable moments and firsts. Mount it on foam board for a party or photo prop, or paste it in scrapbook or photo book that wraps up the year or their preschool career.
What are your ideas for celebrating the little ones’ graduation day? Let us know in the comments below!
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No matter where you live, there’s no way your family can spend Memorial Day inside of a restaurant! If you haven’t received an invite to a backyard barbeque, it’s time to plan your own. Get the kids involved and throw a fabulous kid-friendly Memorial Day BBQ Bash. Our checklist will have your party planned in no time.
Your Guide to Hosting a Memorial Day Barbecue Party
Memorial Day is a day to celebrate our fallen soldiers and the country they’ve served. It’s about patriotism and red, white and blue. Let the theme set the scene:
Fill mason jars with simple flowers, such as white tulips, daisies and blue hydrangeas. Tie the jars with a festive ribbon and, if you like, stick a miniature flag into it to add to the theme These make great centerpieces or decoration on a buffet or bar and are a fun, easy activity for children.
Twinkling lights always make a night feel special. Hang up strings of tiny fairy lights for a festive look when the sun goes down.
Use red or blue cloth napkins and simple white melamine plates so there’s no extra waste or worry over broken dishes.
Get the kids to organize some All-American entertainment. Who doesn’t love a game of kickball, flag-football or badminton, if you can get your hands on a net, racquets and a few birdies. It just might become a Memorial Day tradition on your block.
It’s all about the grill, whether it’s parked on your patio or in the park. Choose two main entrée options – one for the meat lovers and one that’s vegetarian.
Burgers are always a fan favorite at outdoor barbeques. You’ll find every kind of burger recipe imaginable, all claiming to be “the best burger recipe ever.” To keep it simple and kid-friendly go with a classic burger and guests can make it fancy or not based on the toppings you have. For the kids, a side of ketchup and pickles is all they need.
Crispy Quinoa Sliders are a tasty and fun vegetarian option. Even the meat-eaters will be eyeing it in envy, so make extras.
Side dishes are the perfect option if a guest offers to bring something to the family barbeque. Popular sides include salad, pasta or vegetable dishes. Keeping the kids in mind, a patriotic fruit salad is sure to be a hit – add strawberries, blueberries and watermelon. A caprese skewer of mozzarella balls, watermelon and a blueberry or two on top also keeps with the red, white and blue theme and is enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
BYOB (to share!) always works, as well as providing a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Since it’s an outside bash, forego anything fancy or fussy and stick with a few choices of good beer, and chilled white or rose wine
Another good route is to create a signature cocktail that guests can serve themselves from a big pitcher or punch bowl. Good Housekeeping has an extensive list of memorial day signature cocktails that may have your mouth watering. Try out their backyard lemonade or the ginger mint margarita.
The Finale (Dessert!)
Everyone loves a good dessert. Make it a DIY “event” and the kids will have a blast. With a little prep, you can create the ultimate s’mores bar or ice cream sundae buffet Here’s a handy list of what to pick up to make your dessert bar a success!
For S’more Building:
Marshmallows (there’s one than just the plain white ones)
Milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate bars
For Sundae Building:
Ice cream – mostly vanilla, but throw in a gallon or two of chocolate, strawberry or pistachio.
Chopped fresh fruit, such as bananas, peaches, strawberries or whole blueberries
Cookie bits (crush Oreos or chocolate chip cookies)
M&Ms or other candies
Chopped peanuts or walnuts (if there are no allergies amongst the guests)
Chocolate sauce or hot fudge sauce
Ask your kids to help plan the memorial day barbeque bash and especially what to have for dessert! The more involved the kids are, the more fun they’ll have!
Now all you need to do is invite your guests. If your guest list includes a lot of kids, find a babysitter to help you out!
There’s a lot of contradictory and downright erroneous parenting info floating around out there. We’re not afraid to tackle it head-on!
Throwing a birthday party for your child can feel like anything but a celebration. Instead of rejoicing another year older, parents of even very young children can feel pressured to throw extra-special bashes that rival the ones they see plastered on mom blogs and boastfully circulated through social media. Research published in the Journal of Consumer Culture shows that the pressure to live up to modern-day expectations of what makes a fab party is leaving many parents stressed out and insecure about their ability to pull it off; and likely giving kids the wrong message about what a birthday celebration is supposed to be.
To help parents maneuver party planning obstacles and banish unrealistic expectations, while still throwing a party that won’t disappoint, we spoke with Lisa Gaché, an etiquette expert who often advises on event hosting; and Alison Smith, co-founder of ECHOage, a company transforming party planning by having guests pitch in on a special present or donate to a charity, both chosen by the birthday guest of honor. The two teamed up to set the record straight on three common myths related to planning kids’ birthday parties.
Myth #1: A great party means a mammoth guest list. After all, I have to invite my child’s entire class, and also plan for parents who decide to stick around.
Truth: The etiquette rule, according to Gaché, dictates that if you are planning a big party you really should invite your child’s entire class—at least for grade school or younger kids. You don’t want to risk hurting anyone’s feelings or riling parents by excluding classmates from the celebration. But there are good reasons to keep the party small, including budget, space, and your child’s comfort; many young kids can feel overwhelmed by too many guests, and enjoy a more intimate, lower-key gathering.
The solution, both experts agree, is to host an all-girls or all-boys party, or stick with six kids or fewer. Smith suggests creating a party that specifically lends itself to a smaller group, such as a sleepover or an outing to a special event—think concert, amusement park, or sporting event. If you’re worried about hurt feelings from friends who don’t make the invite list, consider planning a special play date or inviting them to a family dinner.
Regardless of the number of invitees, expect that the parents of kids younger than age five will likely stay, rather than drop-off their tot. “Your goal is to make sure they feel welcome and integrated,” says Gaché. Offer them whatever you’re feeding the kids—chicken tenders and pizza triangles are just fine, she says. Smith suggests setting up a self-serve coffee bar for parents who choose to linger.
And rest assured, once kids hit the middle school years, parties are typically smaller, and the invite list can be left to the guest of honor.
Myth #2: The competition for throwing a fabulous party is intense! I need to match, if not outdo, the birthday bashes my child attends.
Truth: The trend of over-the-top, commercialized parties—parents hiring garage bands or taking a gaggle of tween girls in a limo to a five-star dinner—lives on. But it’s recently been rivaled by customized, personalized parties that impress guests—or more likely, their parents—with hands-on party planning, homemade food, and Pinterest-worthy DIY decorations. “There’s tremendous pressure to be an expert crafter, a professional photographer and a videographer at your child’s party,” says Gaché.
Luckily, plenty of parents are realizing the insanity of both types of this extreme and are moving to simple, age-appropriate celebrations with cake, food, and a bit of entertainment. Opt out of the craziness, and join that party. Smith suggests skipping the meal, even, and offering only cake and ice cream, which are all everyone really expects at a birthday party, anyway; or picking one wow factor, such as hiring an ice cream truck for the night. Alternatively, take the family out for a special dinner at the birthday boy or girl’s favorite restaurant, and avoid setting big expectations for every birthday to come.
Myth#3: My closets are over-flowing with gifts my child doesn’t need or already has, but I can’t ask guests to forego the gift. People feel so uncomfortable showing up empty-handed.
Truth: “The rule is that ‘no gift’ means no gift,” say Gaché. But guests don’t always comply, leaving those who didn’t bring something feeling awkward. “Society dictates that showing up to any party empty handed is uncomfortable unless there is another plan in place,” says Smith. So, make just such a plan: encourage guests to contribute to a group gift—something your child really wants or needs—or to give to a charity of the guest of honor’s choosing. “Everyone feels great about giving without having to show up to the party with a gift in hand,” says Smith.
Gaché, on the other hand, says asking guests to donate to a charity can rub some of them the wrong way (and also risks disappointing your kids). Instead, she suggests asking guests to bring something for an activity the children will partake in at the party; for instance, paint for an art project, or candy for cupcake decorating. This approach also allows you to forego expensive favors by sending kids home with their completed projects instead of a goody bag. Think of it this way: You’re saving parents from shopping for yet another birthday party gift, keeping clutter from your closets, and teaching your child that the celebration is about the company of their guests, and not the gifts they bring. Now that’s something to celebrate!
For most of us, summer provides a less restrictive schedule with a little more time to spare. There are no school bells to beat, carpools to shuffle, homework to deal with or early bedtimes to make. Take advantage of some of the extra time and freedom, even if it’s just having a longer evening thanks to Daylight Savings Time, by enjoying these top 10 summer activities to do with your family. You’ll be glad you did!
Attend a baseball game.
Whether it’s a MLB or a little league game, nothing says summer quite like rooting for the home team at a ballgame. Grab a few hot dogs for the kids and find a spot on the bleachers… even if your little ones are too young to last more than a few innings.
Splash with friends at a pool party.
If you don’t have a friend’s pool to crash, find a local public pool or private swim club and arrange to have a few friends and their kids gather for a fun afternoon in the water.
Throw a BBQ.
You don’t need a backyard to host an outdoor summer BBQ. A park with accessible grills or a spot for you to bring your own will work just as well. Check out our Pinterest board, Party Food for fun outdoor dishes to share.
See the stars.
Loosen the reigns and let your kids stay up late enough to see the night sky. Pack a blanket, load up the car and find a spot dark enough to see for miles.
Get away without the kids!
No matter how much you cherish the extra hours with your kids during summer vacation, everyone needs a break from each other. Log onto UrbanSitter to find a sitter who will stay the night, or better yet the weekend. You don’t need to spend a fortune or go far to rejuvenate and recharge.
Enjoy an outdoor concert.
Even families with infants can manage and appreciate a concert in the park. Kids will love camping out on a blanket and listening to the music. Just be sure to bring snacks.
Come summer, you gotta hit the water. Find a local spot to rent a paddle boat, tube down a lazy river or get drenched at a water or kids splash park.
Our post last summer on camping hot spots was a reader favorite for good reason. Camping is perfect for families! Check out our post for super family-friendly sites, coast to coast. If packing up the car and hauling your kids to the woods seems like a daunting task, pitch a tent in the backyard for a slumber party under the stars.
Get together with school friends.
Back to school transitions will be easier if there are familiar faces to share the new routine. Take the time now to schedule play dates with school friends and host an afternoon at your place for your child to meet new friends who will be together in the fall.
Have a picnic. A picnic is the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon with your family, and knock out dinner, too. We have just the menu for you to do it right and with little effort.
Before the hectic routine of the school year starts again, take the time to enjoy the season with your family. Sharing these fun, memorable summertime activities helps to build happy memories that will stay with you and your kids a lifetime.
The 4th of July is nearly upon us – get the party started with fun treats and decorations that’ll pump up the patriotism at your house. All you need for a fantastic July 4th BBQ is good company, good food and these fun, festive decorations and sweet treats.
Did you think we forgot the punch!? No fiesta is complete without a perfect Margarita. With so many delicious variations to debate, we’ve included a Margarita Recipe Round-Up that’s bound to include everyone’s favorite or new found favorite. Be sure to mark the pitcher “Adults Only” and include a second, virgin-version for the kids.
Tell your guests to bring their marachas and their dancing shoes. Even if you can’t bring in your own mariachi band, you can’t call it a fiesta without a hot Latin playlist. Check out this Cinco De Mayo playlist on Punch Bowl created just for the holiday.
Cover the craft table with butcher paper. Each child can use an eye dropper to color several coffee filters in a variety of colors. For less mess, have kids use crayons or markers to color the coffee filters. Place one coffee filter decorative side down on the table. Next, place the other coffee filters on top with decorative side up. Fold coffee filters in half and then scrunch the middle of the coffee filters. Hold the scrunched area in place by wrapping the chenille stem around it. Straighten the stem. Arrange several flowers in a basket for a festive centerpiece until it’s time to take them home.
We hope these ideas show you it’s simple to throw a fun, festive feast everyone will enjoy!
Celebrating Cinco De Mayo without the kids? UrbanSitter is your go-to for finding a last minute babysitter.
There are so many delightful, inspiring ideas for Valentine’s Day decorations, crafts and treats out there! We’ve pulled together some of our favorites to show you how to host a truly adorable Valentine’s Day Party. Keep the guest list small – think of it as a pumped up play date for a few friends – and choose from these awesome ideas you can make yourself (or with the help of a handy babysitter!). Before you know it, you’ll have the makings of an unforgettable party.
Welcome your guest with a hint at what’s inside by decorating your front door with an eye-catching pop of festive color. This DIY wreath is made out of burlap and paper roses. Click here for the tutorial.
Why resort to a box of store-bought Valentines when you can print or make your own? Take your pick from several gorgeous Valentines offered as free printables. We especially like the one with a mini bottle of bubbles (instead of more candy!). For those with patience and handy kids, get the kids involved and make your own, like these super awesome hearts made from bit and pieces of broken crayons.
There’s no shortage of inspiring party decor photos out there, but we especially like this one that shows you sweet simple can be.
Fun Crafts for the Entertainment
Create some bling with this wildly popular craft idea from Mom On TimeOut. Especially good if you have a party of girls, you need only Hershey kisses and pipe cleaners to whip up a few of these! Have a mixed crowd or slightly older kids, try these Valentine Cala Lillies, which can be taken home for a gift for Mom, Dad or the babysitter.
Make it a dessert-only party, which is oh so fitting for this sweet holiday.
Cupcakes, (but, of course!) – Inspiration for an easy treat – top pre-made (store-bought) cupcakes with whipped cream and candy hearts.
Pudding Cups – Makelittle cups of pudding extra tempting by dipping the cup rims in melted chocolate and then rolling them in pink and red sprinkles.
Melon Hearts– Easily sneak in a little healthy to your feast with these melon hearts.
Beverages – You can click on this Pin to order printables to embellish drinks, or you can simply glue paper hearts to the outside of water bottles or plastic tumblers, and even insert a straw through one. Our advice as veteran parents – with all the sugar in the treats, no need to serve a sugary beverage, too. Stick to water or milk!
Take-Home Treats & Party Favors
Order a simple sewing pattern from Craftsy to create magical wands & crown that are sure to thrill any of the little princesses attending. Stick them in a vase for instant decoration, too. Rely on free printables to embellish bags of candy for a tasty take-home.
It’s about to start. We’re not talking about the early morning alarm, the arrival of the school bus or soccer season kickoff. We’re talking about the budget-busting bombardment of birthday parties!
If you have just one child, the steady stream of invitations might not seem so overwhelming, but if you have more than one who falls within prime birthday party years (say age 2 or 3 to at least 12), you’re looking at a flood of kiddie party invitations and Evites.
Here’s how you can meet your gift-giving responsibilities without breaking your neck or the bank:
1. Buy in bulk. Becoming the woman who has a stash of ready-to-give gifts will free up a tremendous amount of your shopping time and help you avoid the all too common, last-minute stop at the toy store on your way to the party. Buying in advance and in abundance also has big budget-saving advantages. Forego the free gift-wrapped presents at the pricey local toy store, and instead load up at Target, an online sale, or even not necessarily top of mind places like an art supply or sports store. If your daughter loves Tangled, chances are her friends do, too. Buy a few extra dolls when you choose one for your child. See a sale on a cool craft kit that will delight a child and give her mother a break? Stock up.
Gift cards may seem like an odd choice for little kids, but even kids can appreciate the power of having their pick of a present. Consider a movie pass, bowling or miniature golf rounds, even an iTunes card for those toting iPads or iTouch.
2. Choose a signature wrapping. Having a signature wrapping method means you’ll never have to stop for a gift bag on the way home, buy expensive paper that the young recipient will never appreciate, or have to give up precious closet space for a mirage of supplies. Keep it simple and unisex. How about a solid turquoise paper with a red bow? Or the same combo in a gift bag version. Better yet, go green and use reusable gift bags or recycled paper your child can decorate with stickers and stamps. It makes life much easier if you can slap on a gift tag with your child’s name. Try printing your own with the free printables offered at Pizzazzerie.
3. Be a trail blazer. Ask for donations to a charity in lieu of gifts for your child. This will set the stage and encourage other parents to do the same. Does any child in your playgroup really need another tiara, Lego set or floor puzzle? Instead, encourage giving where there is truly a need. There are many charities whose mission can touch the hearts and interests of children – your local humane society, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital , Americans Feeding Americans, World Wildlife Society, and many, many more.
Asking is as easy as a simple request in the invitation, something along the lines of: “Please join us in supporting the American Cancer Society by giving a gift in (your child’s name) to (name of the fund). Help us find a cure for cancer!”
Pooped from one-too-many birthday parties? Hire a babysitter on UrbanSitter and treat yourself to an adult evening out!