5 Parenting Hacks that Help You Survive Children's Birthdays

When I was a kid, birthday parties were simple and fun. I'm sure there were crafty moms then, only there was no Pinterest to show the others what an epic fail their party was in comparison to the kid down the street's Carnival Bonanza. The connected age has brought us a lot of great benefits, but creativity-shaming is one I could do without. Still, I have to tackle this kid's birthday business twice a year, and what's a busy, working mom to do in order to make sure the kids have a great time without driving herself crazy?
At work, I employ all sorts of hacks to make doing my job easier. Is there any reason we shouldn't apply that same mentality to throwing an awesome birthday party? In short, no. Here are five, tips, tricks, and hacks to help you survive your child's birthday without losing your sanity.
Pick the right venue - After three disastrous at-home parties, we've decided it's venue or bust for us. Ok, the parties weren't disastrous, they were just a lot of work. And once we started looking at budgets, we weren't really saving much by having the parties at home. Sure, there are the standard bounce houses, parks, and kiddie-themed restaurants, but local museums, zoos, and even movie theaters often have birthday party packages that allow you to show up with the guest of honor and leave the tough stuff to them. The kids will have a great time, and it won't matter whether or not you've mopped your floor.
Send electronic invitations early - Not only will you save trees, but this allows you to accurately and easily track your RSVPs and plan accordingly. Most venues need a final count a few weeks before your party date, so try to send your invitations early. You'll want to send a reminder a week or so before the party as well. Be sure to communicate any changes in party size that will affect the venue.
Don't go overboard on the party favors - Given the massive quantity of character themed junk that's out there it's easy to go overboard, but I promise you that the Rapunzel themed whistles that look so cute in the party pack won't make it out of the car. The vast majority of party favors end up in the trash or lost. Instead of spending $5 a kid on junk, look for bulk books or coloring books that the kids will enjoy and that won't make the parents cringe.
Don't open the gifts at the party - Birthday parties are overwhelming, and if there's anything you can count on it's that your kid will have no filter when opening gifts. Add to this the fact that most venues have a strict time policy, and this is one activity that's best done back in the comfort of home where you can control the pace and record each gift as it's opened. There are lots of ways to do this, but the best I've found is to use this app, OurGifts, to record each gift right on your phone. This will make creating your thank you notes a snap.
Thank you notes - Yes, you need to send thank you notes, but you don't have to spend hours and even more money on stationery and postage in order to do it. The same app that allows you to record the gifts as your child opens them also lets you take photos and then later create custom thank you notes with just a few clicks. You can even have it automatically write the note for you using the gift and event details, then text, share, email, or even print for the more traditional folks on your guest list. OurGifts is so easy that even the kids can use it and you know kids love taking photos and love apps. What a great way to start teaching kids about gratitude. Thank you notes - done.