Planning a Birthday Party for your Middle School Child

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How to Throw the Perfect Middle School Birthday Bash!

The dreaded Middle School Birthday Party! Most of us remember our middle school days, and I'm sure some of us wish we couldn't! It's a time of transition from child to young adult and this tricky time for parents, is often even trickier for the kids! They want to be seen as "grown up" and impressing their peers is of the utmost importance. So what's a mom to do when it comes time to throw a the perfect birthday bash for her middle schooler? It's all about communication with your child! You can throw the coolest birthday party by following these simple steps!

First, you should sit down with the birthday boy/girl and get a clear idea of what they want their party to be like. Topics you should discuss involve the following:

Type of Party
Will it be a sleep over? A pool party? A special event party, such as going to a movie, or to another venue? Will the party have a theme? These are all things you and your child should discuss in detail. Go over the pro's and the con's of each type of party. For example, sleep overs are fun and seem like they're low maintenance, but they're actually a lot of work and a large time commitment. You can assume you will be entertaining (and feeding) your guests for about half a day. They will typically arrive around 6pm and you can most likely count on stragglers being picked up around noon the next day. You'll need to feed the party-goers dinner, snacks throughout the night and breakfast in the morning. And then there is the issue of keeping your guests entertained for the duration of their stay. (see Activities)

Your child is old enough to understand that money doesn't grow on trees. Explain that if your child wants the type of party that tends to be more expensive, such as an event party, they may need to cut back on their guest list to accommodate the budget. Another great way to stick to a budget is to make a checklist of all your expenses for the birthday party. Go pre-party shopping with your child and get an idea of what the invitations, cake, decorations, food, etc. will cost and write these down. Then go home and regroup with your child to go over prices and see what your child is willing to give up in order to stick to budget. Who knows maybe he would prefer to rent a movie rather than go see one if it means more of his friends can attend or perhaps she is willing to give up a store bought cake if it means she can splurge on those really cool invitations! Talk with your kids, keep them aware of the budget and be ready to suggest compromises.

Second, it's time to talk about who will be attending this Birthday Bash! This is can be a battle ground for you and your child. Often middle school children will be inclined to invite large amounts of guests to their party, and naturally you want to keep the party under control. And then there's that pesky issue of whether or not the party will be coed! Here's how you can sort it all out:

Guest List
Chances are your child wants to invite half their grade to their birthday party. And chances are you were hoping for something smaller, much smaller! It's a good idea to remind your child that they will have a better time if their party is a controlled amount of friends. However, your middle schooler will most likely have a better time at his/her own party if they keep the guest list limited to their close friends. It may be difficult to convince your child, so try explaining that the larger the amount of guests, the less control your child will have over his/her party, which means things may not go as planned. You know your child best, if they aren't good with going with the flow, you should remind them of this, and explain that the chances that their party will go as planned increases as the number of invites decreases.

The Coed Question
As for having a same gender party versus a coed party, it's really best to evaluate whether or not you and your spouse are comfortable with hosting a coed party. You need to understand that supervision is a must, and that you are responsible for whatever may take place in your home. If you are not comfortable with the possibility of having to break up a rousing game of spin the bottle, then you're not comfortable hosting a coed party. This may upset your child, so explain to them your reasons for being uncomfortable, and ask them if they are ready to deal with the possible embarrassment they may have to endure if you had to intervene in such an instance.

Invitations come in all shapes and sizes and all price ranges. This means buying less expensive invitations is a great way to save money in your budget for other party expenses. If your child is into crafting, invitations can be easily made at home. This adds a personal touch, and can be a fun activity for your child and a couple of his/her close friends. But make sure your child is willing to have homemade invitations before you press this option on them. To some middle schoolers homemade invitations can be a cool idea, to others it can be social suicide.

Third, think you've got it all planned out and ready to go? Not so fast! Here are some other details you don't want to forget about:

Party Outfit
This tends to be a bigger issue with girls than boys. Boys should generally wear something they will be comfortable in for the party's activities. Generally this goes for girls too, but sometimes, as we women know, comfort takes a backseat to style. Try to make sure that your daughter wears something that she is comfortable in if at all possible. Its a good idea to have her test-run her outfit to make sure wardrobe problems can be worked out long before the party is in full swing. Wearing the outfit around the house for a few hours will let her decide if she really likes the outfit, and see if she will be comfortable in it. (Mom this is your chance for her to realize on her own that the mini skirt and legging combo she picked out for her ice skating party is not the best idea! Let her wear the outfit outside for 10 minutes- before you know it she'll be contemplating jeans and Uggs on her own and you won't end up being the bad guy!

For boys, the concept of decorations might be moot. Typically middle school boys aren't into decorations and might even think they are too childish. Chances are your son would rather spend money on the activities of his party rather than decorating it, and this will save you big-time in your budget. Girls are usually a different story, they tend to want to decorate and make the party very festive. Decorations can add up, so a good idea is to check out your local Walmart or dollar store to save when it comes to these generic party decorations. It's pretty wasteful to go to party stores and pay through the nose for paper plates and matching napkins and streamers that would cost half as much at your local discount store.

This might seem like a minor detail, but music actually acts as an icebreaker, and tends to make everyone more comfortable. Music can range from simple background noise, to setting the mood of a party. Have your child go through their CD's or their iPod and make playlists ahead of time so they won't be distracted with the music during the party. This way they have control over the music instead of being at the mercy of the radio or your selections which might not be, gulp, cool. If the birthday party is outside you will want to think about how the music will be heard outdoors. Will you bring out a stereo, or set up speakers around the party area? All good things to think about before the party starts.

Finally, it's party time! But what the heck are you going to do with all these kids? If you've decided on a special event party you've got it made. If you're holding the party at home, you're gonna need to come up with some cool-approved party activities and quick! Here are some great ideas:

You've got the kids together- now what? Scavenger hunts around the neighborhood (supervised by an adult chaperon of course) are usually a big hit with this age group. It's a good idea to give the neighbors a heads up and make sure your list contains small, inexpensive and common household items that people will be willing to give up. Examples of appropriate times for the list would be: an egg, a safety pin, 3 wooden matches, a red ribbon, etc. Divide the party up into groups of 4-5 people, and the first team to complete the list wins a small prize. Believe it or not, board games are actually a big hit at middle school parties. Party games such as cranium, SceneIt and Taboo are great ice breakers, and they also take up a significant amount of party time! Bonus! Athletic games, such as soccer, volleyball and flag football can easily be set up and played in front and back yards. If it's summer, or you live in a warm climate consider games such as water balloon capture the flag, and Super Soaker fights.

Still searching for that great birthday Party idea? Here are some more great Middle School appropriate birthday activities:

Tropical Luau Party
Laser Tag Party
Salon Makeover Party
Scavenger Hunt Party
Skateboard Park Party
Horror Movie Marathon Sleep Over Party
Chick Flick Marathon Sleep Over Party
Treasure Hunt Party
Movie Theater Party
Dance Club Party
Ice Skating/Pool/Athletic Event Party
Backyard Camp Out Party
Fashion Show Party
Crafting Party- Pottery, Painting Picture Frames, etc.
Mini Golf Party
Batting Cages Party
Midnight Disco Bowling Party

More about this author: Olivia Loves Life

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