Tags Posts tagged with "party planning"

party planning

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and although most of us look forward to a big Thanksgiving feast with family, the prep work and festivities can feel overwhelming at times!  It takes a lot of planning and patience to have a stress-free holiday.  Here are some tips to make it a truly enjoyable season for everyone involved!



1. Get organized. As Meghan Trainor says, “All the right junk in all the right places”.  A stress free Thanksgiving starts with a clean and organized home.  If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, hire someone a week before to come in and least do the deep cleaning for you, or ask a friend to come in and help.  Clean and organize your fridge, as well as your oven and kitchen areas.  Put stray papers and knick knacks away so all of your prep surfaces are free from clutter.  Wash linens for guests, and make sure necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, and toiletries are well stocked. You don’t want to have to make last minute trips to the store for your guests.

2. Plan your meals.  We put a lot of emphasis on Thanksgiving dinner, but make sure your other meals are planned out for the week as well, especially if guests are coming into town.  Make casseroles, or meals you can prepare easily.  Don’t break your back slaving over fancy meals for your guests, because you’ll be on your feet enough on Thanksgiving day!  Write down a menu and ingredient list for the week, and stick to it!

3. Don’t wait until the last minute.  Start preparing now. Buy your turkey and all the trimmings ahead of time.  You’ll be glad you did when the grocery store lines are a mile long next week!

4. Delegate responsibilities.  Typically family and friends are happy to help. If you have a large guest list, ask Aunt Norma to bring the green bean casserole, and cousin Sally to bring games to keep the kids entertained. Ask each family/guest to contribute in some way and everyone will feel needed and appreciated, and you’ll feel less stressed.  It’s a win-win situation.

5. Plan your menu.  Pin down your guest list first.  It’s key to know how many people you are cooking for. Figure out how you’re going to cook your turkey, how long it will take, as well as all the side dishes you want well in advance. Pinterest is a great tool for finding new recipes, but so is asking friends for their tried and true Thanksgiving side dishes!  Consider having a Thanksgiving recipe swap party to share and try your favorite Fall recipes!

6. Budget wisely.  Hosting Thanksgiving can easily become expensive. Asking everyone to bring something helps with this, but also make sure you have enough silverware, dishes, chairs, etc. to accommodate everyone.  If you don’t, consider borrowing these items to limit your cost. Simplicity is key.  Remember that your guests are there to spend time with you.  We want our home to be welcoming, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like a Pinterest board or break our budget.

7. Make a plan for the kids.  Adults are happy to just to sit and chat, but kids may need a little more direction with how to spend their time on Thanksgiving Day. You’ll be busy cooking, so make sure to designate another adult or older cousin/friend as caregiver/wrangler. Make sure the kids have activities, games and/or crafts to do to keep them busy while you’re busy.

8. Don’t forget the leftovers.  Make sure you have plenty of storage baggies and take home containers on hand for leftovers.  Sending your guests home with some leftovers frees up space in your fridge and ensures you’re not eating turkey until Christmas.  It will also make clean up a breeze!

What are some Thanksgiving tips you would recommend? We’d love to hear from you! 

My son just turned 9, and he begged us to have his birthday party at Sky Zone this year!  After going there a few months ago on a Saturday he thought it was the “coolest place EVER” and couldn’t stop talking about it. We were happy to oblige, especially since Sky Zone takes care of EVERYTHING for you! I love not having to worry about entertaining the kids, and especially not worrying about having to clean up! Sky Zone has a few party packages to choose from depending on your budget, what food options you’d like, and how many guests you would like to invite, but ALL the party packages include the following:
• 1 Hour of Jump Time
• 40 Minutes in a Private Party Room
• Private Party Host
• Party Plates, Napkins, Cups & Utensils
• Pizza & Fountain Drinks
• Party Room Set-Up & Clean-Up
• Full-Color Invitations & Envelopes
• Sky Zone T-Shirt for Party Guest
• Access to Foam Zone & Sky Slam
• 2 FREE 30- min Jump Passes for Future Visits
• One Pair of SkySocks for Each Jumper

I have to say, right off the bat, I was super impressed with Sky Zone‘s facility.  We have been to other trampoline parks in Colorado Springs, but Sky Zone is top notch. It is bright, clean, fun, and well organized! All of the employees are super friendly, helpful, and GREAT with kids.


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When we arrived for the party, we got our own cart where all of our guests put their gifts and shoes, and each child got their own pair of super cool orange Sky Zone socks to change in to!  My son even loves wearing them at home because they’re so cozy! Our party host was great and engaged the kids with a few activities while we waited for other guests to arrive. When all of our guests arrived, the kids got one full hour of free jump time.  I loved that they were able to go to whatever area they wanted because there was plenty of supervision in every area. Sky Zone has 6 areas for kids to explore.  One main trampoline area, a basketball dunk zone called Sky Slam, a few dodge ball areas, and a foam pit where kids can jump off of smaller trampolines into a big foam pit! I also love that there is a large seating area with plenty of tables to sit and relax.


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The kids had a blast and got all their wiggles out! After our jumping time was over, it was time to head to our own private party room where our party host took care of everything for us!  Included in our party was 3 pizzas (from Marco’s, yum!), 4 pitchers of soda, helium balloons, and paper ware in our choice of colors.  If you wish to have cake, you provide that yourself, but our party host took care of cutting and serving everything, which was so nice!  It was wonderful to be able to sit and chat with friends and not have to worry about what everyone needed!


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When the party was over, my son received a free t-shirt as a gift from Sky Zone, and was also allowed to spin the wheel, which landed on a small Sky Zone volleyball for him to take home.  All of our guests had a super fun time, and if you are looking to have your next birthday party somewhere fun, I highly recommend Sky Zone and give it a 5-star rating!!

You can visit their website for more info and details on their party packages!

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New Year’s Eve can be fun for the whole family, but if you’re celebrating with kids the party only lasts as long as they are happy!  Keeping them entertained ensures a good time for mom, dad and friends too. Check out some of these fun activities and games that will help keep the little ones busy!




1. New Year’s Paper Chains

Choose festive paper and have the kids cut them into strips.  The children can use glue sticks, glue dots, or ask an adult for help to staple the strips together to make a paper countdown chain.  Put a ribbon and noise maker or treat at the top of the paper chain.  Have the kids remove one circle link for each 1/2 hr. or hour until the New Year (or bedtime) arrives!



2. Photo Booth Props

This is easy and so much fun!  Get the kids involved in making photo booth “props”; these could include but certainly aren’t limited to various moustaches, glasses, hats, signs, etc! Drape a backdrop against a wall using a sheet, blanket or paint one on butcher paper.  The kids will have a blast dressing up and taking pictures!  The adults will probably want to get in the fun too!




3. Party hats and crowns

It’s not New Year’s Eve without party hats to feel festive!  Kids will love making them and wearing them! There are lots of fun and creative ideas to inspire you over at happinessishomemade.net – check it out!




4. Time Capsules

I love the idea of having kids write down all their favorite things about the past year and hiding it away, and then opening it up again in one year’s time.  This is a fun activity for everyone!  Cometogetherkids.com has a great printable and ideas for this project.

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5. Noise makers

Of course, you can always just go for the pots and pans at midnight, but making your own noisemakers is more fun!  The kids will love assembling them and taking pride in how much noise they can make when the clock strikes midnight!




6. New Year’s Tree

Don’t take down the Christmas tree just yet!! Put the Christmas ornaments away, but replace them with some fun New Year’s themed decorations!  Add balloons, streamers, mardi gras beads and give it a festive feel to ring in the New Year.  The kids will love it, and your guests will too!




7. Minute To Win It Games!

These games are so much fun and will keep the family busy for a while! You can find 8 ideas in this post from The Chaos and the Clutter.




8. Mocktails

The kids don’t have to miss out on having their own fancy drinks!  Click HERE for some great recipes for non-alcoholic “mocktails” the kids can make to make New Year’s Eve even more special!




9. Balloon Pop Countdown

This is such a fun activity to keep the kids occupied until midnight (or your chosen bedtime) on New Year’s Eve!  Arrange balloons in a line marked with a time, and every hour on the hour the kids get to pop a balloon and see what activity is inside for them to do! You can also fill each balloon with small treats and/or toys to make it extra exciting!




10. Sparkler Firework Craft

These are fun to make as decorations and for the kids to celebrate with! You can learn how to make them here.




11. Make Party Popcorn!

Yum!  This looks so delicious and fun!  Gather the kids and have them help throw in all the ingredients!  You can get the recipe HERE.




12. DIY Balloon Drop

Imagine how much fun it will be when the clock strikes midnight and a hundred balloons fall from the ceiling!  Kids and guests will love it and it’s the perfect final touch to a fun New Year’s Eve celebration!  Find out how to do it here.



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Maybe you’re pregnant, nursing, not a drinker, or want something special to drink with the kids this New Year’s Eve! If you’re looking for other options to alcohol this holiday, consider a “mocktail” – a delicious non-alcoholic alternative!





Here are five fun recipes we found via Pinterest that the kids will LOVE too!


1. Sparkling Raspberry Mocktail





2. Cranberry Apple Spritzer Mocktail





3. Virgin Shirley Temple





4. Virgin Pina Colada





5, Cookie Monster Mocktail



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I was very close to posting a recipe for Chocolaty Chex Mix tonight.  I even took meticulous pictures as I moved through each step of the recipe.  I gathered the ingredients and positioned them on the counter…(camera click.)  I melted the sugar and butter in a saucepan…(click.)  I slowly poured the caramel mixture over the cereal…(click…click.)  And then I created a festive representation of the Chex Mix in a white bowl with a plaid kitchen towel underneath it…(click, click, click.)  Then I had to sit for a minute, as I often need to, because my body was hurting and I felt dizzy.  It was in that moment, as I sat quietly in my family room, by only the light of my Christmas tree, that I accepted the reality that I just didn’t have the energy to write about chex mix.  I barely had it in me to keep my eyes open.  I had officially reached the point where the only thing I cared about was surviving the holidays.

Surviving the Holidays?”  Since when is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” something to just survive?  I’m pretty sure every frazzled mom, and every exhausted retail employee, and every underpaid teacher can relate to this to some degree.  But I’ll tell you what takes holiday stress to the next, sometimes unbearable, level.
Chronic Physical, Emotional, and/or Mental Pain
If you’re a generally healthy person, I’d like to encourage you to try and remember a time that you felt truly rotten. Imagine your last bout with a stomach virus, the flu, a kidney stone, a migraine headache, or a toothache that hurt so badly you were completely incapacitated.  Now I want you to imagine that while you’re suffering, the entire world suddenly says to you, “You still have to get out of bed!  It’s the Holidays!  It’s time for shopping, presents, baking and cooking, parties, and socializing.  There’s no time for you to be sick.  You have to get up now and be happy, and pretend that you don’t hurt. You have school parties to get to. You have company coming- you better start cleaning your house. Oh, and by the way, you need to make 57 Pinterest-worthy treats to take to your neighbors, friends, and teachers.” For people that are chronically sick or in pain, the holidays present the problem of trying to find energy resources that may just not exist.  Often the month of December is a painful reminder of all the things we desperately want to do, but can’t.
After years of forcing myself to do it all, and working hard to make everything so magical that I literally made myself sick, I gained some wisdom and realized it doesn’t have to be this way.  As much as it feels like it, there really isn’t a gun to my head, requiring that I do more than I can handle during the holidays.  I have put a list together of suggestions that will hopefully ease your burdens a bit and remind you that Christmas really is something to look forward to, and enjoy.
Talk About It
Patricia Fennell, MSW, LCSW-R hits the nail on the head when saying, “Holidays act like a lightning rod where all the physical and social concerns around chronic illness get really highlighted.  The demands and expectations around holidays can “out” people whose conditions were hardly noticeable. During the year, they spend so much of their energy working and handling the daily chores of living that they have little time left for socializing.  Come the holidays, they’re expected to show up and contribute.  Many chronic illnesses are ‘invisible.’  People go to work or volunteer or shuttle kids to school.  Most of the time, they don’t look sick.  When illness flares up, their pain is invisible.  Or they have bone-numbing fatigue, so bad that they can’t take a shower and go to the store in the same day.”  Unfortunately there’s a cultural misconception that says you’re not sick unless you look sick. This perception isn’t going to change unless we speak up.  I have found that most people would do anything to ease your burdens- but they can’t help if they aren’t aware that there is an issue.
Plan Ahead
I can’t stress this one enough.  Since unpredictability is the nature of the invisible illness beast, planning in advance and preparing for all contingencies is imperative. When preparing for parties or traveling, we may need to bring medication, mobility aids, fluids, and special foods.  Don’t be afraid to discuss your needs with the host or your family members.  We all want to participate in the holidays the way we always have- including cooking, decorating, and hosting gatherings.  To do these things, we will just need to prepare over the span of a few days or weeks.  If we rush around and try to do it all in one day, we are less likely to enjoy ourselves and we could even end up bedridden.
Ditch Unrealistic Expectations
In fact, get rid of all your expectations.  I once had a friend tell me that expectations are the root of all evil because they encourage you to pine over things that aren’t real, and ignore all the beautiful things in your life that actually do exist.  Of course it’s fun to create a beautiful table for Christmas dinner, or trim a picture-perfect tree- but only do these things if you truly enjoy them, and certainly not at the cost of your own health and sanity.  If you can’t do what you once did, you can still make new traditions that accommodate your limitations.  Whatever your idea of how Christmas is supposed to be, just remember that it doesn’t have to be like that for you to enjoy it and be truly happy.
Ignore Other’s Insensitive Comments
Louise, from the blog “Diseased, Divorced, & Dangerous says it best, “People often have their own ideas about what you should be doing with your life and this is none so evident as it is during the high stress month of December.  It’s when people’s opinions that should probably be kept to themselves come streaming out with a little shove from one too many drinks.   Whatever the unfortunate comment, it’s a good idea to remember their opinions are a reflection of them and not you.  When you’re sick you can’t win no matter what you do, whether you’re working and so you’re ‘not that sick really’ or not working and so you’re ‘exaggerating and not even trying to get better.’  As you can’t win, you may as well just do what makes you happy, and what you need to do for your health, even if it means missing a party or bringing your own ‘free-from’ food.  Embrace being the weirdo that leaves early, only drinks sparkling water, and has a handbag full of medication.
Respect Yourself
Respect your limitations.  Respect your right to enjoy the holidays.  Respect the fact that you are enough today, simply because you are a living, breathing person.
Serve Others
I can’t think of a better way to embrace the holiday spirit than to jump beyond ourselves to help others.  Just because we’re sick doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do.  Get on the internet and order flowers for someone that is struggling.  If you’re having a particularly healthy day, offer to help with childcare, or housecleaning.  Spencer W. Kimball reminds us that, “Service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are preparing to live in a better world.  It is by serving that we learn to serve.  When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective.  When we concern ourselves with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves.”  Talk about warm fuzzies!
Above all, let us remember what this time of year really means to us, and let’s focus on that.
I wish you warm, happy, and healthy holidays!

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When my soon-to-be 8 year old daughter excitedly told me about 10 months ago that she’d like a fairy party, I became almost as giddy as her.  I had all sorts of images in my mind of a garden party at the park, with cute little toadstool chairs, and beautiful flowers, and maybe even a treasure hunt.  And then I realized I had forgotten a pretty important detail…My daughter’s birthday is in December.  I went back to the drawing board and decided to keep the woodland fairy theme and just winterize it a little.  My other obstacle was that this party was happening a couple weeks before Christmas.  So not only did I need to winterize, but I also needed to seriously “bugetize” the party.


Considering that we had an intense Colorado snowstorm going on outside, our first priority was to create a comforting, warm space inside our home for all the pretty fairies to play.  To do this, we moved our couches out to the garage and set up a camping pavilion in our family room.  Then we draped it with blankets and sheets to enclose it, and added lights and decorations to create a glowing little fairy tent.

I borrowed the snowflake ornaments from a friend.  To make the starbursts, I just used pipe-cleaners and this tutorial.  I bought the tissue paper puffs at the Dollar Tree and just dipped the edges in Mod- Podge and rolled them in glitter to add a little extra “fairy dust” sparkle.



For the Woodland Tree, I just cut some low hanging branches from a tree in my mom’s yard and sprayed them with fake snow in a can from the Christmas section of Hobby Lobby.  I just put the branches in a clear vase and weighted the branches with clear decorative rocks that I found at the Dollar Tree.  I decorated the tree with crystal ornaments and butterflies that I adhered with hot glue.

For the food table, I cut some slow hanging branches from a spruce tree and also sprayed them with fake snow and layered them across the table, instead of using a tablecloth.  My husband cut a few logs that we had into perfect woodland serving platters, and I hung the net that Emma usually has over her bed above the island, for a dreamy effect.


My niece, Jessica, is not only gorgeous, but she also happens to be an accomplished ballerina.  She was more than happy to be my helper at the party, and I think the little girls got a kick out of seeing a real fairy!


I made the food labels out of chalkboard picks that I found in the $1 section at Michael’s.  You can find the moss-covered rocks, 4 in a pack, at the Dollar Tree.




For the “Toad Stools,” I just cut string cheese into 3 pieces and topped with half of a seeded cherry tomato.  Then I dabbed the tomato with dots of cream cheese.






I found these adorable curly candy-canes and this giant sparkly “8” at Hobby Lobby.


You can find the recipe for these yummy and adorable edible pinecones here.







For the party favors, each girl got to make her own bottle of “Pixie Dust.”  I found the bottles, 50% at Hobby Lobby.  To make these, you just need an assortment of sparkles and waterproof confetti, about 1 teaspoon liquid glycerin (which you can find in the soap-making section of any craft store), water, and melted wax, to seal the bottles.

I have a candle warmer, which keeps the wax melted.  Just make sure the cork is pushed in tightly and then dip the top of the bottle in the wax repeatedly to form a sturdy seal.



Each time I looked over at my daughter, giggling and smiling, and having a ball- I couldn’t help but feel her excitement.  It truly did feel like a fantasy land.  All the tedious effort that went into pulling off this party was 100% worth it.

That being said- I think next year we will just take her bowling!

Happy Birthday, Turtle!

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Growing up, one of my best friend’s had a birthday on December 28th and my mom’s birthday is on December 23rd.  Both have shared feeling a bit slighted on their special day because all the festivities in December focus so much on Christmas.  When their birthdays rolled around it was either too close to Christmas to bother celebrating much, or soon after, when everyone was tired of the hustle and bustle of celebrating.  Do you have a child whose birthday falls near Christmas? What do you do to ensure that they feel special on their special day?


We asked some moms to share their feelings and traditions on how they celebrate December birthdays in their families.  Maybe some of these ideas will inspire you too!

Lacey S. – My husband, his mother and his sister all have birthday’s very close to Christmas. They have always kept them completely separate as they would if their birthdays were at different times during the year. I still do the same for my husband now. His birthday is his birthday, and Christmas is Christmas.

Megan P. – My husband’s birthday is the 12th and we just celebrate it unto itself, without any connection to Christmas. The way I figure it, a December/Christmas birthday is no different than someone having a birthday on Easter, Halloween, or 4th of July. The only “holiday connections” are the ones you allow to intrude.

Kelly M. – My son’s birthday is a little less than 3 weeks after Christmas. We celebrate his half birthday in July. We tell him happy birthday on his actual birthday but save the cake and gifts for the half birthday. It’s great because then you can get summer gifts for playing outdoors or have a pool party.

Janet A. – My kids’ biological dad was born on Christmas day. We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve and his birthday on Christmas.

Emily E. – My daughter’s birthday is on Dec. 22. We let her celebrate her birthday any time during the year. On her actual birthday we do have cake and ice cream but on party plates, not Christmas plates.

Niki C. – My mom is the 23rd and my sister’s is the 26th- both are a bit overlooked- although, I would say my sister’s is more. I’ve always felt badly about it. THEN I had my little Brooklyn on the 30th and I NEVER want her to feel overlooked. She’s still young- but I try to tell her how extra special she is because her birthday is so close to Jesus’ Birthday- and I make sure her day is completely her day and not a run-on from Christmas.

Kathryn F. – My daughter Jemma’s birthday is on the 17th. We always make sure to have birthday plates, birthday wrapping paper and the like. We have done Christmasy type things but it has been an experience for her. Last year for her birthday we went to see a huge light festival about two hours away and then drove another hour and went on a sleigh ride at night. So yes, some of the things are sort of Christmasy but we talk about how it’s for her birthday experience.

Do you have a December birthday in your family?  Share your traditions with us! 


When I think of the autumn months, my mind is populated with images of pumpkin patches, cute boots and sweaters, candy corn, swirling golden leaves, and football games.  But the thing I most appreciate about Fall is the way the season gently invites us to come inside.  There’s an understated beauty in turning on your oven again after a summer of crisp salads.  I also can’t help but feel giddy when sunglasses and bathing suits are replaced by cozy scarves and adorable hats.  But have you noticed that a good majority of the festivities during this beloved season revolve around kids? Please don’t misunderstand me…I love Halloween more than most people.  I start planning costumes 6 months in advance, and there’s nothing more adorable than a toddler clumsily making her way through a pumpkin patch.  But sometimes it’s nice to gather and appreciate the charm of this season with other adults.  Just adults.

What could be more soothing to a frazzled mom than candle light bouncing off of vintage china, and fantastic conversation on a chilly, rainy October night?  I think the beauty of throwing a tea party as opposed to a traditional dinner party is that nothing has to perfectly match, and eclectic decorations and china are not only acceptable, but completely preferred.  I even borrowed an old bed sheet from my friend for the table cloth because I fell in love with the lace trim.

Another perk of throwing a tea party during the autumn months is the fact that you already have fall decorations lying around the house.  Just pull some white lights and battery operated candles from your box of Christmas decorations, and you’re all set.  Thankfully my mom is a collector of tea pots and tea cups, and she was sweet enough to loan them to me.  But if you don’t have access to china, you can find beautiful and unique tea sets at any thrift store- usually for under a dollar.  Have fun with your tablescape.  Play around with different serving dishes, and don’t feel that everything has to coordinate.  There is such beauty in imperfection.  This table was somewhat boring until I decided to pull out these teal water glasses.  They offered a much needed pop of color against golden and orange backdrop.




For the meal, I served cucumber tea sandwiches, a spinach and bacon salad, and roasted red pepper and tomato soup.  As toppings for the soup, I offered croutons, toasted pine-nuts, and parmesan cheese.  The savory portion of the meal was yummy, but I think sweets are paramount to the success of any tea party.  Who doesn’t love mini-cheesecakes, petit fours, chocolate covered cherries, and fruit with cheese?  I also picked up a box of beautiful assorted cookies from my local grocery store. For the hot drinks, I served vanilla herbal tea and apple cider that was blended with cranberry and grape cocktail juice and just a pinch of cinnamon.

I hope I’ve inspired you to host a cozy gathering of your own this year!

Happy Fall!

By Janet Schlosser @ forgetthefinishline.blogspot.com

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Fall is such a fun time of year!  Lots of holidays and Autumn treats are great excuses to throw a party and gather your friends and family close! Whether it’s a wedding, birthday party, shower or just a fun get together, these unique ideas via Pinterest are sure to be a hit.




1. Caramel Apple Bar 




2. Chili Bar




3. Decorate mini-pumpkins




4. Woodland Creature theme




5. Serve dip in a pumpkin




6. Pumpkin Centerpieces




7. Cornucopia Fruit Desserts




8. Hot Chocolate Bar




9. Sunflower Balls




10.  Pretty in Pink Pumpkin Party


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Your child’s first birthday is exciting and fun, and certainly one to celebrate with family and friends.  Some parents go a little overboard with the festivities (please refer to Pinterest), and others go ridiculously overboard…like the mom and dad in this story.

Redditor razz32 posted an image of an email sent from the parents of a 1-year-old to their family. The email lays out a list of ‘approved’ gifts, gifts they would like to have, and gifts that would not be appreciated for their son on his birthday.  They also write detailed instructions about receipts and what gifts are strictly banned.  Read the letter below:


Wow!  I am not sure how I would respond to an email like this.  The child is ONE!  He won’t even remember this day, nor could he care less about what toys he does/doesn’t get.

What are your thoughts?  Are these parents crazy, or is this acceptable?  How would you react if you received an email like this??