Seeking Ideas for 4 Yr Old Daughter's Birthday Party

Updated on June 26, 2011
L.L. asks from Elk Grove, CA
47 answers

Hi Everyone..

My daughter is turning 4 next month and I'm planning a party, but not quite sure what to do. My daughter attends preschool part time and I was looking for ideas of how to celebrate with her school friends. Any suggestions?

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Children love the simple things. A home birthday party with Pin the Tail on the Donkey, musical chairs, face painting, etc. Home parties are a rarity these days and the kids absolutely love them!

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E.B.

answers from Sacramento on

Have you looked into the Young Chefs Academy.There is on on Elk grove Blvd near Big Horn I think. They offer cooking classes and do parties. My niece and nephew love this place.

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A.D.

answers from San Francisco on

L. -
I'm a face painter. Am based in Alameda and work for a very reasonable rate. I also have a 9-year-old daughter. If you're interested, reply to this email and we can work something out.

Kids this age are so much fun! They love to dress up, are uninhibited singers and dancers, and have a great time using their imaginations and creating. You can put on music and let them dance around with inexpensive, floaty scarves, or run around blowing bubbles on the lawn. Fairies and princesses and kitties are very popular at this age. It's really fun to serve cupcakes and let them decorate with sprinkles, etc.

Simplicity is your friend. Let them have fun just being kids!

grins
A. in Alameda

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J.R.

answers from Sacramento on

Keep it simple!!! I am so amazed by the elaborate birthday parties that everyone is throwing these days. I think - what a waste of money!! At four years old, chances are she is not going to remember it - so make it easy on yourself. Invite a couple of kids - what I have seen recommended one kid for every year of age (so four kids) and your daughter and no more than 2 hours for the party.

I love the idea of having a dress up party - especially since my daughter has enough dress up for 10 friends. You could take pictures - of each dressed up and print out before they leave (with a digital camera) put in a princess frame - maybe the kids could even make the frames - foam shapes and cheapy frames from Michael's. My favorite cake of all time (my auntie (God rest her soul) made for me when I was 16 was my "Barbie" Cake - Dress was the cake, Barbie shoved down the middle.

Another pet peeve of mine - have your daughter open gifts in front of everyone. I had a friend that waited until after all the guests had left so that if she didn't like the gift she did not say something inappropriate. Kids need to learn to say thank you and be grateful for the gifts they receive.

Good luck!!

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

A park is always a great place for a child's bday party. We live in Martinez, and I rent the picnic table area at our local park. The kids love to play on the structure together. We also set up a craft table for them to do crafts. It's always a big hit.

Last year I bought Frustrationless Flyer kite kits from www.windpowersports.com. I had bought finger paints for them to paint the kites, but then the bathrooms were out-of-service that weekend so I just had glitter-glue pens and markers for them. Didn't think it would be a good idea to have finger paints and nowhere to wash up. It was the best party. The kids LOVED it. Even just markers are enough. Get the ones that won't stain their clothes.

The year before I had just bought a couple of those foam kits. I got mine at Walmart, but they have them at Michael's, etc. I had two kits, one that made puppets and one that made princess picture frames.

My good friend did her daughter's party at the park too, and she had makeup, fingernail polish and tatoos for the kids. That was fun too.

Or at that age they will even enjoy just a basic party at home with a jumpy. You don't have to get too creative. They just like having their friends together.

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N.S.

answers from San Francisco on

both my daughters went to pre school part time, because they didn't know their class mates too well we didn't invite them to the actual party at our home. For the 1st one i brought a gallon of vanilla ice cream and served in cups and also bought a small tub of sprinkles. i checked for any allergies. One kid had and got a quart of sorbet I think it was, I asked the mom. For the other I made party bags with items I found on Orientaltrading.com. i avoided candy and such. I put in there some stickers, pencils, small arts and crafts project for each of them to do at home. Hope this helps.

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S.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi L.

Well one of the things we always did for my son who is now six, was to have an Easter Egg hunt and hs bday is in November, but we did it because he loves to search for things, as I think most young kids like to do.. We get those plastic eggs and put a piece of candy in them and in one of them put a GOLD choc coin and that person who finds that egg, gets a prize.. or you can put gold coins in a few diff eggs.
anyway, it's always a hit.. even if it isn't Easter..

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T.S.

answers from Salinas on

I went to a 4 year olds bday party 3 weeks ago with my 4 and almost 2 year old. The party was a lot of fun. It was a morning slumber party. Meaning we arrived at 9:30 in p.j.s and had breakfast (pancakes, fruit salad etc.) We brought our sleeping bags and pillow (not necessary though). The gift bags were hair accessories if the kids wanted to do eachothers hair. (None really did though). The host had plain pillowcases with their names painted boldly on them and there were lots of paints and stencils that the children used to decorate. The birthday cake was cupcakes using blueberry muffins.
We had so much fun. I thought the idea seemed weird but it all played out and the kids had so much fun.

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S.E.

answers from San Francisco on

You have to decide if you want a party and how much energy you want to put into it.

For my daughter's 4th b-day we did a dance party at her ballet school. Upon arrival girls and boys made either fairy crowns or dragon crowns (2 king crowns) bought online at Oriental Trading Co. They wore their crowns and danced, played games, sang, ate pizza and cake. The goody bag was a canvas draw-string bag filled with a homemade coloring book (pictures I printed from the internet about Angelina Ballerina), bubbles (always a favorite), and an Angelina Ballerina card game. I created a decal on transfer paper of Angelina and added each guest's name, so the bags were personalized. The thank you was an ABC coloring book. I took the pictures from the party and in Photoshop I turned them into outline drawings. I found a picture for each letter of the alphabet and made a coloring book. I made sure that each guest was a page in the book. I also took picture of my daughter opening the gifts and turned those into pictures for the book. Each guest received a "P is for presents" with a picture of their gift being opened. Lots of work? OH YEAH! Lots of Fun? OH YEAH. Does she remember it? OH YEAH. She's only six, but she still talks about her 4th and 5th parties. I make a book of each party and put it it on her book shelf for her to look at later.

For her 5th, we rented the Lazy H Ranch in Half Moon Bay (http://www.lazyhponyranch.com/) and had a huge pony party. It was around $250 for 4-6 hours (1 hr on each end for set up and clean up). They have a shelter and a grill. They also have a porta-potty (only yucky thing about the day) We had 6 horses and 2 trainers. The kids made stick ponies when they arrived (I cut the heads out of wood and drilled holes for the dowel rod and glue). At Michael's I bought foam stickers used to make flip flops(fringe makes a great mane) and other types of foam stickers. The kids received certificates of ownership and membership to the Stick Pony Club. We had races around a course on stick ponies, and they even had a parade with prizes for best name, best decorations, best prancing, best trotter, best gallop, best behaved (pony), fastest(game winners) etc. Everyone received at least one ribbon. The thank you for this party was again a picture book telling the party story with each child having a special page of pictures of him/her. We kept a copy that had special pages for each child.

Both were a ton of fun and a lot of work, but worth it!

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K.M.

answers from San Francisco on

We had our daughter's 4th party at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo. It worked out great. They provide food and cake and we rented a picnic area for the day. It wasn't too bad money-wise. The best part was we let everyone know when the pizza would arrive and when the cake would be served, otherwise, everyone got to do their own thing that day. We were able to combine the school friends with family and family friends and everyone has said they loved that party.

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J.B.

answers from San Francisco on

My kids always like to have theme parties. They pick the theme of course. My older daughter has had a "pink" party (3), Wizard of Oz (4), ,super hero (5), pirates (6),"snow"(7), horses (8), and this last party (9) everyone dressed up as old ladies and old men which was pretty hysterical. My younger daughter has had a tiger party (2), a raccoon/hedgehog/panda party (3), dinosaurs (4), a "whole world" party where kids dressed up like the sky, or a mountain or the ocean...(6)... They really could pick anything. And we just use the theme and decorate accordingly. We used to have projects. For the superheroes we made capes, for the panda etc party, we did pin the tail on the raccoon, and a hedgehog toss with little stuffies, things like that. But we noticed that we were putting a ton of effort towards these things and the kids just wanted to play. What does your daughter like to do? You could have the activity be the theme, like a soccer party for instance. Good luck!!

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B.M.

answers from San Francisco on

If you mean that you want to have a celebration at school with her friends there, ask her teacher for suggestions. At my son's preschool they do a healthy but tasty cake or snack (bannana bread, carrot muffins) with a candle and a song right after lunch. It's simple, and my son loves it.

For his fourth birthday we had a birthday party at the Oakland Zoo. I wanted to try having a party outside the home, with a lot of the work done by someone else for once, and I think it was pretty successful. There is a limit there on how many you can have in your group, because the main event is when a zoo worker brings a few small animals out for the children to meet. There was a storytime, then the children met the animals (the hedgehog was a big hit) then the children did a craft project. After that we had pizza and cake, which we provided, and everyone went out to explore the zoo. A large room was available for our use at the Zoo, with decorations, goodie bags and set up/clean up provided by staff.

The price wasn't that bad when you realize that if you actually figured out how much you spend for at-home parties you would probably choke. A party away from home may actually be less expensive, and way less stressful. It was sooooo much simpler. I could kick back and actually enjoy my son's party. It's so wonderful to watch them take it all in, and I was glad I had decided to have the party somewhere else.

That being said, don't you miss the kinds of parties we had when we were kids? Cake, punch, pin the tail on the donkey, go home. That's it. No worrying about feeding a huge crowd because everyone's parents are staying too. No goodie bags, no bouncy house- just two or three games and the kids just chased each other around after that until their parents picked them up. Simpler times.

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J.P.

answers from Stockton on

Hi L. ~ some things that might be good for her age group would be to do a couple of little craft tables. You can do marble painting - where you have trays - and you put a piece of paper on the bottom of the tray - then you have several different colors of paint in cups - each with it's own marble and a spoon to get the marble out - then you put the marble in the tray and roll it around on the paper - you can use as many different colors as you'd like. Also you can get old puzzle pieces and some popsicle sticks - and a polaroid camera and make little picture frames - glue the popscicle sticks into a square frame - and then let the kids glue on puzzle pieces all around it - take a picture and glue it to the center - and put a magnet on the back to hang it to the fridge - you can get some potting soil and some little tiny tins and plant a flower for each of the kids - and then let them decorate their own goodie bag! Just a few ideas - if you need more let me know....

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A.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi L., I just went to a birthday party with my son and i thought what this mom did was great. She put invitations in all of the kids cubby in my sons preschool. She had the party right after preschool ended one day and we all met at a local park. She had snacks and then cupcakes and little favors. The kids had a great time. It lasted about two hours. Good luck!

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L.H.

answers from Stockton on

L.,
Depends on what you want to do and spend. On my son's 2nd bday, we had it at the San Francisco zoo which was a lot of fun! They have a room in which they set up all the food and the families received passes to go into the zoo for the day. On his 3rd bday, we had a jumper and had a petting zoo at the house. My husband also set up games like toss the ball into the basket, toss the ring onto hooks and knock down the milk bottles. No matter what, all the kids received a prize for trying. We also ensured all my son's motorized cars were fully charged for the kids to enjoy. We found some great things from Oriental Trading to give as prizes!
Many of my friends have done Picture Perfect Party, Gymboree, Chuck E. Cheese, etc. Good luck!

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S.E.

answers from Sacramento on

When my daughter turned 5 we had a princess party for her. Cinderella came to the house, decorated, had tea and did activities with the girls. They all really liked it.
The website is Onceuponaprincess.com

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L.C.

answers from Sacramento on

A jump house is fun for everyone, even the adults will get in on the fun. If your having all the preschoolers to the party at your home, have plenty of help, and you'll need to be having differenet stations of party fun. They have to be stimulated the entire time. Usually each station can hold 4 or 5 children.

Different Stations:

Face Painting (Find items at Michaels) - have a chart with simple items the children can pick from

Small bean bags to be thrown into a cut out clown

Pin the tail on the Donkey (always a classic)

Pinata (careful, this can be dangerous - kids with a stick)

Cupcake (kids frost cup cakes and decorate)

Good luck on the party.

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C.M.

answers from Stockton on

My daughters' birthday is in a few weeks and I'm doing a Princess Tea Party. I'm having my brother in law be the butler! Everyones gotta have a wacky uncle or aunt that will do anything! They will get served little pb and j sandwiches, mini cupcakes, baby carrots...all the things my daughter loves. Then there will be Princess Milk(strawberry milk), and apple juice for the teapots. They will also have apple cider for a "toast" to the princess when we sing happy birthday. For an easy craft they will decorate their crowns made of foam that I ordered from Oriental Trading and have little jewels and glitter glue. Then, my son is going to be Prince Charming and we will have a dance floor for the kids to dance to Disney songs. A game that I do for every part and its a big hit is the Dare Game. It takes a while so you must do this the night before. Get a prize and alot of wrapping paper(leftover x-mas paper, dollar store) and get different kinds. Everytime you wrap the gift write a number(out of order) and make sure to keep track of it on a piece of paper. Wrap at least 20 times so that each kid will get a chance. Then, on the piece of paper that you have with all the numbers write a dare. Like, pretend you're a ninja, or growl like a tiger...the kid has to do the dare before they unwrap. Whoever unwraps the gift keeps it! I love to do my kids' parties and I always try to do things a little different...if you need different ideas message me!
:0)
It helps to find out what your daughter likes, that way the theme will be much easier.
Good Luck and have fun!

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M.H.

answers from San Francisco on

My girlfriend just had a Elmo (they have all the characters including pricesses) party and they do face painting, games and everything. The kids had a blast. Let me know if you want info....

M.

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S.F.

answers from Sacramento on

When my twin girls turned 4 we invited both preschool classes after school to play & have cake. We live a block from school, so it was like a parade!
My husband set up an obstacle course, birthday egg hunt, and we had a pinata. We requested no gifts, but they still received a few from close friends.
I made 4 Bundt cakes, so everyone had a choice of 2 flavors.(No ice cream)
We had 25 of the 38 kids come. Everyone got a goodie bag with candy & pinata toys- plus what they picked up. It was outside, so we had minimal clean-up.
~S.

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D.D.

answers from Fresno on

If you want to include all of the kids in her class (or maybe just the little girls) try some place like Pump It Up...the kids get some energy out and you can provide pizza or maybe just cake and ice cream! Keep it simple and the kids will pretty much have fun together.

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S.P.

answers from San Francisco on

I just used Picture Perfect Party in Dublin for my son's 4th birthday earlier this month. We had 14 kids total and they all had a BLAST! Picture Perfect Party is designed with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Older children may get bored. Check out their website, http://www.pictureperfectparty.biz/. And all of the parents that showed up really liked it too!
Good luck!

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A.W.

answers from Modesto on

By next month it should be real nice. Have you thought about having her party at a park with a jump house, and a BBQ. You can invite all her friends from school along with her parents, and of course your family. It will give you a chance to meet the parents of the kids in her class. I hope I was helpful.

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B.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Depending on where you live there is sooo much to do. I love planning parties. Just last week I planned an inprompt Tea Party for my 2 year old and two neighbor girls age 2 and 4. We gardened a bit (I let them each plant a plant in an old planter box I had) then I had already made sandwiches with cookie cutters and bought scones and made tea. They loved it. If time allowed I would have also put together a dress up box with boas and dresses and costume jewelry and let them play dress up. I also went to the local thrift store and bought mish-mosh tea and saucer sets that they loved because they were so fancy and each was about a dollar. Not sure how this will work with boys though. Enjoy and happy 4th B-day

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J.C.

answers from Stockton on

Hi Lilly
Our son turned 5 in Feb. he also attends preschool. What we did for his birthday was order a "jumper", invited all the kids from his preschool, cooked hot dogs, chips, juice, and did a pinata (since they are kinda young for games the jumper and pinata worked out great!)
Good Luck!!!
J. Cardoza

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R.T.

answers from San Francisco on

If your daughter is an active girl, you can go to a gym that caters to kids her age. They usually have some kind of a birthday party package. It is nice to have it there so you only take care of the food, they should have their staff take care of the activity and the clean up of the place.

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J.P.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi L.,

I also have a young daughter and I have had success with using crafts projects for the children at her birthday parties. At one birthday, I brought foam visors (plain) and tons of different foam stickers, "jewel" stickers, etc. and the children decorated their own visors. I included plenty of letter stickers so that they could spell their names. For this project, foam stickers work the best. Another project that was fun was suppling each child with a cheap white photo frame. The ones I purchased were from IKEA and had a clear plastic insert instead of glass. Again, plenty of different types of stickers, dinosaurs, flowers, letters, shapes, etc. that they could use to decorate the frames. During the party, I took pictures of each child and sent a copy in their thank you notes. Places for supplies include Target, Michaels, any crafts shop and the best prices for the visors/hats is from the Oriental Trading Company:

http://www.orientaltrading.com/

Good luck and have fun, this is a chance to be a kid again!

J.

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A.A.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't know where you live, but, my first thought was Fairyland in Oakland near Lake Merritt. My daughters LOVED it there when they were that age and we had a great birthday party there a couple of times.

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W.M.

answers from Sacramento on

L.,
When our kids were that age, we took cupcakes to the school, and then had a family party at home. We found out the hard way that many parents wanted to just drop off
their kids even at that age, and run for the door. So,
we ended up with being a daycare for all the kids. SO sad
actually. This is why we took cupcakes to the school,and we asked permission from the teacher first. When we did have parties, sometimes the kids would have a water balloon toss, and play in the sand box, making sandcastles.
Have fun
W.

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J.F.

answers from San Francisco on

I'm not sure where you live but Gymboree Play and Music has sites throughout the Bay Area and they are great for birthday parties. The beauty of a party at Gymboree is everything is done at the site and when you get home - your house looks the same as when you left!

You can see the sites that are around the Bay Area by checking the website - www.gymboreeclasses.com.

J. F.

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A.U.

answers from San Francisco on

When my daughter had her birthday, we took cupcakes to her preschool class on her birthday. That way she got to share and celebrate with all the kids of the class, without having to invite that many kids to her party later on. Just ask the teacher(s) ahead of time to see what days and times would be best for the class.

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M.O.

answers from San Francisco on

When is your daughters birthday? My daughter will be 4 on april 24th.
How you said you wanted to celebrate with her preschool friends, something a lot of parents do in my daughters class is bring cupcakes or a cake to school that they sing happy birthday and eat their cake after lunch, all the kids love it.
That is what Im going to do and then Im still going to do a party...a bbq at home with the family for her with cake and presents and a pinata and she is asking for a jumping house. Which is tons of fun for kids this age.
Hope it helps let me know what you end up doing as I am looking for ideas too.

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C.M.

answers from Sacramento on

I know what you are going through. My daughter will be 4 on the second, and I was haveing a hard time figuring out what to do for her party and for her to do at school, (she is also in preschool part time. I was leaning towards the whole cupcake thing, but EVERYONE dose that. So I was toying around and decided that I am going to do the cupcake thing only with a twist, my daught is going to help me make and frost them, but they are going to be icecream shaped cupcakes. I found this out on a box of icecream cones. Very original, but yet nice and easy. Try asking the teacher what is a good idea, and also if any of the kids in her class have a food alergy. (My daughter can not have ANY red dye) let me know if you come up with any more good ideas.

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K.C.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't know where you live but Fairyland in Oakland is fun and not to expensive www.fairyland.org, or Super Franks in Dublin has a princess room or glow in the dark golf which is alot of fun.

K.

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L.K.

answers from San Francisco on

We just celebrated my son's birthday two weeks ago. I was totally new at planning a party for kids. We ordered a jumper, but I also bought tshirts and markers for them to decorate. I also had big sidewalk chalk and a pinata. The kids didn't want to come out of the jumper to do anything else! I had to send the shirts to his pre-school. The jumper was a hit. I did buy a bunch of sports beach balls that they used inside.

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S.S.

answers from Yuba City on

how about making it a ballerina party or like a tea party. Get them to wear tutu's (spelling?) to the party and if you're doing the tea party you can go to any dollar store and find little dress up clothes, hats, & jewelry to get ready for their tea party & tea sandwiches. For my daughter's 1st birthday i made tea sandwiches for adults and some for the kids. I made some PB&J for the kids. Another tea sandwich idea would be just easy sandwiches like grilled cheese, turkey & cheese, ham & cheese; and just use cookie cut outs to make them cute and "fancy". You can even have her help out with her party. I had my son help me cut the bread when I did it for my daughter. I know that you're going to invite the boys in her preschool so it would be cute to have grown up ties & hats ready for them too. Put on the invite to wear any kind of bottoms & a white collar shirt to be ready for the tea party.
Good luck! And let us know how it went.

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M.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I am the mother of 3 boys....and I can tell you that I have always wanted a daughter just so I could throw a Princess Party! Invite a few girls to your house and tell them all to wear their most beautiful princess dress. You can decorate in a princess theme, have princess cake, and hand out princess party favors. Ok...I'm getting a little crazy here, but like I said....I'm the mother of 3 boys so I think that would be SO cute and fun for her!

Here's another idea for the party...you could fill an old trunk with "dress up" clothes (maybe you could get some inexpensive tiaras, high heels, old jewelry, etc) and they could spend time at the party playing dress up! Rather than everyone wearing princess dresses to the party, they could all dress like princesses when they get there!

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N.P.

answers from Modesto on

Hi L.!

You're so lucky to still have "little girl" parties!

I thought our "Glamour Party" was the most fun for our daughter....how I wish we could do it again!

Basically, it's a "dress up" party in "fancy" clothes, gloves, pearls, plastic champagne flutes, etc...

Very little prep. Kids come dressed, and "pretend" that they are adults the whole time. Thier conversation is hilarious.

Let me know if you want details :o)

N.

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P.Q.

answers from San Francisco on

When my three sons were young a friend gave me some wonderful advice. She said to invite as many children to a birthday party as your child is old that year. It works. If you wish to have a fun orderly party that your child (and you) will enjoy invite four children to her party. We used this rule as long as our sons had birthday parties and it worked beautifully. I modified the rule to not count the other two brothers in the number of children invited. And of course, we were flexible to allow one or two extras. But you would be amazed at how fun and memorable children's parties can be. There is nothing worse than spending hundreds of dollars on for a wild, out of control party that no one enjoys.
Good luck.

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P.R.

answers from Bakersfield on

try a barrbicue or snacks, n a cake of her fav. tv show.. n have a fun day at the park n let her give her friends a little bag of little toys n party favors. you can let her open her presents, have cake n play at the park. some people have rented bouncey casles. hope you have funn. P. R.

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K.H.

answers from Bakersfield on

I have 2 suggestions...
If the school allows it, have cupcakes there and/or...
If you want to get to know the other parents/children in the class, invite the girls and their moms to a 'mother daughter party'.
This way you won't get the 'drop and run for the door' parents.
And HEADS-UP: that happens all the time.
I can't count all the birthdays where parents drop off the kids for 2-4 Hours and sometimes even overnight at a sleep-over and never even introduce themselves or leave emergency numbers.

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S.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Google 4 yr old birthday party and you will come up with a ton of ideas. I did this once and you won't beleive what great and creative ideas people have.

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M.M.

answers from San Francisco on

My son will be four in a couple of weeks and also attends preschool so the things I normally will do is take in some muffins and cookies for the kids in his class to have on his birthday, then the kids that I know he plays a lot with I will normally put an invitation in their box to invite them and their family to the party. At the party I will normally get those jumper houses that way it gives the children a place to jump and play and burn off energy, hope that helps.

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C.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Since the end of April can still be too cold to do outside parties, you might want to try a kids Yoga party. Have them decorate animal masks, they can use them for pretend and for party favors, serve some easy finger foods like fruit and yogurt. The kids will be happy. They just love to run around and play.

Oh, and it's always good at this age to save the presents for at home.

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V.H.

answers from San Francisco on

L., what a fun time for you and your little girl! Please, whatever you do, do not take invitations to your daughters preschool for a party offsite unless you are inviting ALL of the children. Even at that age, they know if they have been left out. If teacher okays it, the easiest birthday party is already set up for you! Buy some cupcakes at your supermarket bakery (the ones with the bright bright frosting), ask the baker for some birthday picks to stick in them, grab some juice boxes and napkins and head to her preschool after nap time. Take a little goody bag from the 99 cent store .. coloring book, clay, colors, little toy .. no candy. Instant birthday party. The kids love it! Have a ball! - Grandma to 12 "perfect" angels.

C.J.

answers from Nashville on

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