Having a Successful Birthday Party Year After Year By Karen Struble, Ph.D.

If your little one’s birthday is just around the corner and you want to celebrate with a party that’s fun for all, read on. You don need to spend a lot of money to make wonderful memories. Here are some age-specific hints to keep in mind while planning for that special day. If your little darling is turning:

One   Stranger anxiety is at its peak. Twelve-month-olds are usually very afraid of unfamiliar people, so if out-of-town relatives arrive, ask them to give the birthday baby plenty of space.

Two   His favorite present will probably be the wrapping paper. And don’t be surprised if he ignores new toys and goes straight for a big, empty box to play in. “Mine” & “No” may be his favorite words for now, but it will be okay; with good parenting, he’ll keep growing.

Three   He probably just beginning to make friends, and neither he nor his little pals are ready to happily share toys. If you invite other children this age, it best to just let them play together, saving the gift opening until the friends have gone home.

Four   Even on his fourth birthday, he’ still be happier if you save the presents for later. Also, remember that sometimes less is more. He’ actually have more fun with fewer children around. A good rule of thumb from this age on is to let him invite the same number of friends as the candles on his cake.

Five   By now he should know how to share, but it can be really hard to practice on his birthday, especially if he’s surrounded by brand-new things. To help you understand, think of getting yourself a brand-new car. When you first bring it home, would you gather up the neighbors and offer each one the keys for a test drive?

Six   This may be the last year your child will still believe in all things imaginary. Don miss this chance to get really creative with the pretend play and take the kids into a world of make-believe. (No large expense is required, just a healthy serving of creativity.)

Seven-Ten   Kids in this age range love structured games, and they’ finally old enough to handle competition gracefully (with help, of course). Face-to-face social interaction is very important, so steer them away from the video screen and towards something healthier, like a board game or a pick-up soccer match.