Timing Is Everything: Start planning early. Give yourself four to five weeks to plan your party. With added time, you can shop for better deals, look for supplies on sale and order a cake well ahead of time. Send out the invitations with plenty of time so guests can save the date. Tinyprints.com sells unique and stylish invitations to entice your guests.
Short and Sweet: Throw a 2-hour party that starts at 1 or 3 p.m You won't have to provide a big lunch and kids won't get bored and restless. Keep the guest list short. Fewer guests means fewer party favors and fewer plates and napkins. It also means a more manageable party. The rule of thumb is the age of the child plus 1. So, if your birthday boy is 6, invite 7 of his friends. A smaller, shorter party will be more intimate for your kid and give you flexibility in your budget.
Pick a Theme: Having a theme will help make planning and shopping easier. It can be as simple as your child's favorite color or as elaborate as a Dark Knight-themed adventure. Birthdayinabox.com sells birthday party loot by theme and has an online party planner to help you choose the perfect invitations, decorations and favors.
Get Creative: If your daughter wants a princess theme, make a throne out of a dining room chair by covering it with a decorated sheet and ribbons. Or, bake a birthday cake in the shape of a pirate, if you're throwing a Pirates of the Caribbean party.
Flavorful Favors: Kids love getting party favors. It's a keepsake to remind them of the day. CelebrateExpress.com has an enormous selection of favors that won't tap your kid's college fund, but will send her friends home with the best loot in town. Or, use the party itself as the favor. Have the kids make and decorate their own party hats to bring home with them.
The Entertainment: If you want to go all out, hire entertainment. Nothing like a magician to make the day one your child will never forget. GigMasters.com has a list of entertainers across the country to wow your tot. However, if just thinking about the party is more than you can handle, PartyMakers.com provides party planners to do it all for you, so you can just sit back and enjoy the day.