26 May 2014, by Petrina Kow
After 11 years of birthday party planning and organising, I reckon I should have enough expert knowledge to share an article about how to plan birthday parties. Now I know organising birthday parties is not everyone’s cup of tea and really, there are birthday parties and there are BIRTHDAY PARTIES. (cue dramatic music)
I was one of those birthday party enthusiasts who had a themed party every year for my kids, complete with matching paper plates, co-ordinating backdrop colours and theme appropriate games. For my daughter’s first Princess themed birthday party, she had a tiara, wand and matching pink and purple balloons, not to mention the live popcorn, and candy floss machine, and as if it’s not excessive enough, we even had the potong ice-cream man! However, I draw the line at bouncy castles. And pony rides. And having to hire ‘magicians’. Of course, I had ‘off’ years where I slacked a little and outsourced the planning. But mostly, I love a thoughtfully designed and creative party and really appreciate the effort that goes into planning one.
I LOVE planning for parties. Much more for myself than for my kids admittedly! And really when I think about themes and all the fun food, party games and goody bags that can be crafted, I get excited. Unnaturally excited. Over the years, I’ve covered themes as diverse as Sesame Street, Olivia the Pig, Dora the Explorer, Swimming, Crafting, Spiderman, Fireman, Princess, Baking, Ben 10, Jungle and Science. No prizes for guessing which were for my daughter and which were for my son!
This year, I decided to do a science theme for my son’s birthday and it was a wonderful coincidence that BASF were back in town at the library to do their wildly popular Kid’s Lab programme. BASF is one of the world’s leading chemical companies and have been running their Kid’s Lab since 1997 in 33 countries. 2014 marks the 11th year since it’s inception in Singapore and if you are wondering why you may not have heard of it, it’s really because they are so popular, they get ‘sold-out’ before they can even publicise it! They used to run their programs at the Science Centre and this year, they are holding it at the Jurong Regional Library during the school holidays. I was really glad I got a chance to experience it with my son and his friends for his birthday!
So this leads me to Step 1 of Birthday Party Planning.
Step 1: Start with a theme.
It doesn’t have to be fancy and I do like to think of themes that are relevant and interesting to your kids. If you are really stuck about what kind of theme to go for, even generic things like colours or something related to an activity can be fun. For example, beach, swimming, soccer or red theme or the usual Pink and Blue. Of course when your kids are under 3, they really can’t tell the difference or care about what theme quite honestly, it’s just what kind of pictures of memories you want to create. Always think about what suits your family.
Step 2: Logistics! Decide on venue, number of guests and activities.
I like having parties at home because it’s cosier and I usually limit the numbers because otherwise it gets a little too chaotic. This year was an exception because Kid’s Lab runs their program only at the library. Also think about the age-group of the kids you are inviting and the kinds of activities you have. No brain-boggling puzzle games when your guests are all under the age of 3 and also no musical chairs for eye-rolling 13 year olds.
Step 3: It’s all in the Details Baby!
This is really the part that is the most fun for party planners. Deciding on the little details of the event. Should you have gummy worms in blue jello or Green Jelly in Large Syringes for a Science themed birthday? Should you serve fairycakes and Fairy Floss for a Pincess Party and should you play ‘Let it Go’ whilst the kids spray fake snow all over the walls for a Frozen themed party! You see…the possibilities are endless and so deliciously tantalising!
So for this year’s Chemistry theme, we put a little bit more effort into the design of the goody bags as the main activity was taken care of by BASF Kid’s Lab. I heaved a huge sigh of relief too, because I was so busy preparing for our upcoming month-long trip to LA that I had no time to plan his birthday party! I got my husband to design periodic table themed thank you cards and a high security ‘Restricted’ pass to enter the lab.
I also designed ‘medical’ candy in little plastic zipper bags complete with dosage and medical advice and put in scientifically themed things, such as expanding animals, glow in the dark slime and highlighter pens in the shape of a syringe.
The 2 experiments that were conducted by Kid’s Lab were really fun and engaging. They got the kids to don the ‘costumes’ which consisted of a lab apron, and safety goggles and were very thorough about the safety rules to be observed in the lab. The first experiment was to find out the water storage capacity of sand. The kids had lots of fun playing with the superabsorbent polymers, which is a substance used inside baby diapers.
The kids also got to learn how to ‘purify’ dirty water using charcoal and this water purification experiment highlights the importance of water as a precious natural resource.
It was engaging, without being too challenging and even the adults had fun getting their hands ‘dirty’.
Of course you can conduct your own science experiments at home too with a few recycled jars and tins and there are plenty of wonderful ideas available on the internet. All it takes is a little time to plan ahead to brainstorm ideas. Trust me, the satisfaction you get from seeing happy little faces and the joy you experience from creating unforgettable moments is priceless. Happy Planning everyone and here’s to more joyful and fun birthday parties!