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Involve the birthday child when choosing a birthday party theme. Don't get hung up on particular television shows or movies. It's much easier to plan a "cowboy" party than a "Cowboy Bob" party! In addition to buying plates, napkins, and cups, it's fun to have some of the party decorations be homemade. If your child is old enough, let them help make and plan the decorations for the party theme.
Find some music to play while the guests are arriving. In addition to games and prizes, think of some activity the kids can do at the end of the party that can be interrupted. A craft that the kids can easily finish at home or within a few minutes can be a nice way to have the kids wind down a bit.