how to prepare for kids birthday party invite*Welcome to the “Ask Tee” advice column! I’m excited about this new feature and look forward to hearing from you. Have a question about managing work, family and fun? Send it my way! Now for the first question…


Dear Tee,

Managing my kids’ schedule is difficult enough, but throw in a friend’s birthday party and I’m running around at the last minute buying a gift and hunting for the invite. I’d like to not be so frazzled every time. Any advice?

Signed, My Kids’ Social Life Is Better Than Mine


Dear My Kids’ Social Life Is Better Than Mine,

Kids’ birthday party invites don’t have to cause panic. First, add the details to your calendar as soon as you see the invite and RSVP. Dealing with this immediately will save you time and energy later. Trust me, the “touch it once and be done” advice works.

As for gifts, be prepared. I swear by my gift closet. You don’t need an extra closet; get a medium or large plastic tote and use it as your gift bin. The gift bin is where you can store potential gifts and supplies. The key is to stock your bin as you see gift ideas, BEFORE you need them. I choose things that are general – games, kiddie cosmetic sets, Crayola items, books, etc.

I find really nice gifts on clearance racks at Target and Wal-Mart, especially after holidays. If you take 15 minutes after Christmas and Valentine’s Day you can have enough for a few parties, maybe all year.

You can do the same thing for cards and gift bags. Go to the dollar store and stock up on greeting cards for the year. Many sell them 2 for $1 and cards don’t expire. It’s best to buy gender-neutral cards, but I typically mix it up. Pick up gift bags while you’re there.

Keep all of the supplies in the bin and you won’t have to run around when the next invite comes in. You can shop at home!

As a backup I keep a few gift cards, too. You can pick up the multi-packs in most grocery stores and I have never seen a kid that didn’t like the idea of picking out their own gift. This works for adults, too, :-).

Knowing that you have a gift and the information in your calendar will encourage you to relax a little and get into the party mood. Enjoy your next party!