5 Tips to Throw a Fun & Easy Party

blog july 10


5 Tips to Throw a Fun and Easy At-Home Birthday Party on a Budget


One of the challenges of parenting in the digital age is the worry about making everything “Pinterest perfect.” Kids’ birthday parties are no exception, but the reality is that our children just want a fun time to celebrate with their friends. When you get back to the basics with an easy at-home party, it’s not only budget-friendly, but it’s also less stress and more fun for everyone.


Start with a Theme
Planning around a theme gives you a focal point and serves as a springboard for other ideas. For younger children, loose themes that are gender neutral work well, such as fairytale characters or bugs and butterflies. Older children may already know what theme they’d like, or you can brainstorm possibilities together based on their interests. If you’re still looking for inspiration, we like these theme ideas that are broken down for different age groups.


Another option is to have an activity-based party, so you have the theme, activity, and sometimes even the food all rolled into one, making party planning even easier. Two activity themes we love from HuffPost are chocolate-making and scavenger hunt parties.


Make Low or No-Cost Invitations

Printing invitations can really bust your budget, but digital options are free or inexpensive and are more eco-friendly too. Going digital can give you the option to manage RSVPs online with services like Evite. If you’re tech-savvy (or have a design-savvy child), sites like Canva give you plenty of creative freedom to make your own special invitation.


If you decide to go the paper route, let your child help make homemade invitations. Use craft supplies you already have lying around, or grab some blank cards from a dollar store and let your child decorate them to their heart’s content.


Set the Scene


Decorations transform your home from the everyday into a world of wonder, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on them. One budget-friendly way to decorate is to keep store-bought decorations general and spruce them up yourself. A couple of DIY decorating ideas we like from Babble are confetti balloons and using printed washi tape to decorate plain cups. Try to get the best bang for your buck with inexpensive decorations that really pack a punch. Decorating with string lights is a great way to spice up your party, both indoors and outdoors, without spending much since they are inexpensive and kids usually love them. And when you’re finished with your party, you can use the string lights to add comfort and warmth to a space in your home!


Focus Refreshments on What Kids Want Most


Instead of setting out an expensive spread of food, focus on what kids really want, such as fun snacks like popcorn and, of course, the best part: cake and ice cream. You can get away with this by timing your party to start mid-morning or mid-afternoon when no one expects a meal. Most children would agree that the cake is pretty important, so consider making it yourself and starting a tradition by letting the birthday child help.


Play Classic Games and DIY New Ones


Planning a few activities is an absolute must because downtime leads to boredom and kids running wild. Classic games are just as fun as ever, so pick a few like freeze dance, hot potato, or red rover to keep kids entertained at no cost.


For something more current, one of the more popular party activities these days is to set up a photo booth. Scour the internet for photo prop templates that fit your theme, and print them yourself on heavy paper. To up the fun even more, use large cardboard boxes to make an actual “booth,” and let your children get involved by decorating it themselves.


The reality of modern party planning is that when you get back to basics, it’s easier to let go of stress and focus on what matters most. Children won’t remember (or even know) how much you spent on their party, but they will remember how much fun they had. Use these tips and your own creativity to pull off a memorable, fabulous shindig at home without breaking the bank.


Photo credit: Unsplash

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5 Tips for Hosting a Child with Special Needs This Holiday Season

By Diane M. McCullom

For most people, the holidays are a joyful time spent with family and friends, though they can be quite stressful and demanding with party-attending, gift-buying and schedule-juggling. Families with children who have special needs face these same demands and more—wondering how their children will feel at social gatherings is just one of the many questions asked. If you have the privilege of hosting a child with special needs this holiday season, chances are you are wondering about some ways that you can help ease the process for these families and for yourself. We have a few ideas:

Check in with parents – Before your holiday gathering, check in with the child’s parents for a list of do’s and don’ts, traditions, food sensitivities and recommendations. This step can go quite the distance in ensuring that the child feels comfortable and at home in a new environment.

Be prepared – Organize your home in a way that provides few distractions: remove clutter, keep overstimulating items out of the central focus points of your home, have backup food that the child likes, and have fun, skill-appropriate activities and games available for the child in those moments when uneasiness or restlessness sets in.

Be flexible – You might have to throw all of that preparation out the window on a whim. And guess what? It’s OK! Be flexible enough to change your plans to meet the needs of your guests.

Teach your family – Use your experience hosting a special needs child as a teaching time for your own children or relatives to learn about awareness, difference, respect and acceptance.

Relax and have fun – A kid with special needs wants to be independent too, so let them attempt things on their own instead of immediately jumping in to help. Things might get spilled or kids might jump on your couch. As long as a safe and fun environment is maintained, don’t sweat the small stuff!

With a little preparation and an accommodating mindset for those special kids in your life, the holidays are sure to be a success for everyone this year!

Diane M. McCullom is the senior vice president of clinical operations at Dallas-based Epic Health Services, a leading provider of pediatric skilled nursing, therapy, developmental, enteral and respiratory services, as well as adult home health services, with operations in 21 states.

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Organizing BreastMilk

The Milkies Freeze is a “first in, first out” breast milk storage system that fits in your freezer. Simply collect your precious breast milk in any milk storage bag, and place the bag on the metal quick-freeze tray at the top of the Freeze.






Milkies FREEZE Product Review-  The tray that lays on top of the storage compartment really sets this item apart from others!  Perfectly flat and frozen baggies every time. The tray is metal though, so the condensation that forms from a warm bag of milk on a cold metal tray can cause bags to stick. I just put a paper towel between the tray and bag. Great product if you go through your milk quickly. I recommend storing 3-4oz per bag to keep bags from getting stuck in the compartment and to keep them flat enough to store and remove easily. Easy way to stay organized.

Review by: Monica Black
BellyView 3d/4d Ultrasound
Mcallen, TX


What does Milkies Freeze Do:

  • Enclosed storage keeps milk storage bags protected from damage and prevents leaks
  • Efficient, space-saving design stores more milk in less space
  • First in, first out system ensures that oldest milk is used first
  • Can be used with any milk storage bag
  • Disassembles for easy cleaning
  • Stores up to 60 ounces of breast milk in any brand of milk storage bag
  • Metal “quick-freeze” tray facilitates rapid freezing
  • Prevents contamination of your precious breast milk

Milkies Freeze is $29.95 available at http://www.mymilkies.com or call 1-800-367-2837.  Winner of the Cribsie Awards!  Another Great product we found at the ABC Kids Expo!



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So Many Things to Do, So Little ……

By: Oneida Saenz

By: Oneida Saenz

 So Many Things to Do, So Little Time to Do Them:

Every morning a mom with a fulltime job and never-ending house chores, feels energized and ready for the new tasks … uh huh… yeah right. Most of the times, a night of rest doesn’t mean our batteries are fully charged again. Even if we have to drag ourselves out of bed, and get ready for another stressful day, with God’s help we do it. We are strong,  and give everything for our kids and families.

As moms our job never ends, because after getting home from work, we have our real jobs as moms. We have a lot of chores to do, in so little time. Today I have some tips to help us with that..


When everything is piled in the cabinets, and you really don’t know what you have in there, it’s time to think of separating good from bad. Throw away or recycle things like old cups, plates or containers that have no lids or whatever is taking up space. PREPARING LUNCH OR DINNER AFTER A STRESSFUL DAY WILL BE EASIER TO DO WITHOUT AN AVALANCHE OF RANDOM CONTAINERS FALLING EVERY TIME YOU WANT A UTENSIL.

  2nd TIP :

When no dishwasher available at home, having one bowl, and a spoon in the sink, doesn’t mean they won’t contribute to the big mountain. Even if it’s just a cup, wash it, as soon as you can, and avoid the dirty dish monster to grow in the sink, tackle it before it piles, like the paperwork in the office.



When kids get home from school, or even mommy or daddy from work, first thing we do is free our hands of coats, purses, or backpacks. Everything for some reason ends up in the sofa, and everything looks messy. A way to help with this, is putting a bin in the living room that can be transported easily to clear the mess in an instant if someone decides to visit you without calling ahead of time….

  There are many things we can do to organize our chores and time, but these are just some that have personally helped me and my family. I hope all you mommies enjoyed them and can be helpful for you too.




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Halloween Safety Guide

Halloween Safety Guide
It’s just about that time of year! With this super sweet holiday, be sure to make it a safe one as well. With help from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), I have created this safety guide for parents to ensure this Halloween is surely a treat!

When it comes to costumes:
• Steer children in the direction of bright fabrics, even better ones that are reflective
*** Add reflective tape to costume and trick or treat bags
• Make sure shoes fit comfortably and costume is of appropriate length to prevent any nasty falls
• Suggest hats or non toxic face paint instead of masks as a safer alternative
• Avoid swords or costumes with violent props
***A child can be easily injured if he trips/ falls
• Do not wear decorative contact lenses. As creepy and fun these might be, these lenses are not prescribed by a professional, cause serious damage and are in fact illegal.

When it comes to pumpkins:
• Young children should be encouraged to paint their pumpkin, not carve for obvious reasons
• For carved pumpkins, use flashlights for the safest lighting option. If candles are insisted, votive candles are safest.
• Candle lit pumpkins should never be left unattended
• Place lit pumpkins someone sturdy and far away from flammable objects (ex. Curtains)

When it comes to your home:
• Double check outdoor lights for visitors/ replace burnt bulbs
• Safety proof your outdoors for trick or treaters. Remove anything children could potentially trip over (ex. Flower pots, garden hose)
• Sweep wet leaves on pathway and steps, maybe even snow!
• Restrict pets from contact with visitors due to excitement (jumping, biting) or allergies

When it comes to trick or treating:

• Children should always be with a responsible adult, even just around the neighborhood
• Only knock on doors with lights on, that is the universal sign for “guests are welcome”
• Carry a cell phone (parents)
• Use sidewalks and stay on well lit streets
• For safety reasons, do not cut across yards
• Always use crosswalks and look both ways before crossing
• All children and adults should carry a flashlight
• Be sure your child is familiar with 9-1-1 in case of emergency

When it comes to health:
• Before children go wild, an adult should examine all treats throwing away all expired or treats that have been tampered with
• Candy is not the only treat, consider investing in fun Halloween coloring books/ pencils / nick nacks
• Ration candy and other treats to avoid belly aches and further health concerns

Stay safe and enjoy your Halloween!
Stephanie Falcone

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