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Ask the Expert

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It's party time!

Posted: September 29, 2008 7:59 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

To a child, a birthday party is everything.

It's their chance to eat their favorite desserts, unwrap mountains of presents and play games with their friends and family.

But creating the perfect birthday party can be a big challenge for parents who want to make sure their child's day is extra special in every way.

To begin with, Donna Collins, owner of the local party planning business Party Wishes, recommends parents cut down their child's guest list to something more manageable.

"I know that kids like to invite the whole class and everyone they meet," she said.

However small, intimate parties work better and they are also easier on the budget, she said.

Web sites like www.ehow.com can also guide parents who want to plan the best party on a budget.

According to the Web site, parents should decide a budget in advance and keep to it. eHow also suggests party organizers stay in locations like backyards and parks because they can hold more guests and are available at no cost.

Today's birthday parties have evolved from the basic birthday cake and game of pin the tail on the donkey to full-blown celebrations.

Now parties frequently have themes and elaborate all-day celebrations.

"A lot of people want to have the full production," she said. "They expect so much for very little money."

Collins, who opened her business nearly three years ago, suggests parents ask their kids about their interests as a way to figure out the best theme.

From there, parents can plan everything from the plates and cups to the games.

When it comes to the party, eHow recommends parents do as much as they can on their own and that includes baking the cake to hand writing invitations. However hiring a party planner might be a smart options for busy families.

"I just think that parents today are extremely busy and most of them work," Collins said.

As much as families want to plan the right party, Collins said parents don't have a lot of time.

Others just need that extra help.

"A lot are party planning impaired," she said, adding that throwing a party can be overwhelming to some.

Collins, a Santa Clarita native, said she primarily works with families throwing parties for kids ranging in age from 3 to 10 years old.

The most popular themes for boys typically involve pirates while girls enjoy anything from spa parties to Mary Poppins-inspired parties.

Other themes range from fairy to Disney shows like "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana."

For instance, the spa party gives the young girls a chance to wear pink robes while getting their hair and nails done, Collins said.

Plus, party goers take a quiz about the birthday girl and play games.

Once parents and their kids agree on a theme, Collins said they can plan games that correspond with the theme.

"Take the same simple games we grew up with and adapt it," she said.

By putting all the pieces together, parents can create a memorable party for their kids.

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