One of my pieces of advice from the mom trenches is to always be ready for a birthday. You don’t always see them coming, and even when you do things can slip between the cracks. Having a stash of the necessities ready to go is a lifesaver.
I’m of the school of thought that you can’t make a scratch sponge cake that is better than one made from a mix, so why try? Keep a cake mix or two around, and a can of frosting too. It isn’t hard to beat butter and powdered sugar together, no, but it’s still more steps than using a can, and kids aren’t picky.
Pro tip: keep cupcake liners and birthday candles handy, too.
Cards for any and all occasions slip my mind. Maybe I’m still a kid at heart, too focused on the gift to worry about expressing the sentiment behind it, but I really have a hard time remembering to get cards–so I get a bunch every now and then, to grab and slip into birthday presents before we run out the door or tape them up to ship. These are from Target’s Dollar Spot, a GREAT resource for emergency-birthday hoarding.
Pro tip: you DO keep thank-you cards handy too, right?
Gift bags are great, but it’s hard to keep a full range of sizes and occasions on hand, and lots of gifts are perfectly rectangular boxes that are easy to wrap… so keep wrapping paper handy too. These miniature rolls work for girls and boys of any age. They also came from the Target Dollar Spot.
Pro tip: scissors? Tape? Bows?
And gifts. You have a sense of what gender and age ranges it’s handy to keep gifts for; for us right now it’s new-baby presents because most people we know are having babies but don’t yet have kids old enough to birthday-party much. These blocks from B. Toys are my go-to baby present right now. They’re under $11 at Target, appropriate for both genders, come in interesting colors, can go in the bath, and won’t dent the floor when baby tosses them from the highchair. Perfect!
Pro tip: don’t buy things you want to play with yourself, for fear of temptation…
Finally, tissue paper. You need this to stuff gift bags with, but it can also be turned into decorations in a flash. With scissors and tape you can make birthday crowns, or make tissue paper pompoms using these instructions. They look impressive and fun, but take only a couple of minutes and cost next to nothing. Perfect!