Editor's note: The following is a guest post written by Soleil Moon Frye, Target's mommy ambassador, author of Happy Chaos, and mom to Poet, 6, and Jagger, 3. This week Soleil shares her tips on bringing her kids into the kitchen.

I'm a huge holiday person, and birthday celebrations are especially important to me. It's not about the presents — my favorite memories from childhood birthdays are of my mom showering me with attention, filling the day with my favorite foods, and making me feel special and loved.

I'm not sure anything will ever top Johnny Depp crashing my 12th birthday (a special surprise from a mutual friend), but I'm determined to create similarly unforgettable birthday experiences for my girls.


For Poet’s fifth birthday, we had a Grease-themed party and went for a full-out, '50s-style event. It’s possible to be elaborate without being expensive — for the Grease party I found discounted Halloween costumes and spandex pants online, then scooped up festive and affordable party supply essentials at Target. My friends set up a makeup station and sprayed the girls' hair into wild Grease-era styles. If you’re willing to play DJ on your iPod, a dance party is free!

Here are some other fun, budget-friendly ideas:

  • DIY goodie bags: Fill large mason jars with candy and let kids decorate brown paper to-go sacks with stamps and stickers.
  • Treasure hunt: Scatter little toys and treats around the yard or park, and send the kids to go find them. Works every time!
  • Crafts: Buy a bunch of inexpensive picture frames and let the kids decorate them with paint, stickers, and glitter. If you’re a fan of Polaroid cameras like I am, snap photos of each guest with the birthday boy or girl to go in frames as a memory of the day.
  • Philanthropy: It's never too early to introduce kids to the concept of giving back and instill a sense of compassion and awareness. Have guests bring toys for kids in need or donate the crafts made at the party to a local children’s hospital.

Keep reading for Soleil's tips for ensuring smooth sailing at your party!

And now for some pointers to make sure the special day goes off without a hitch:

  • Remember, it’s not a competition: There will always be someone throwing a bigger, glitzier party, but it’s important not to compare ourselves to others. The kids are always happy to simply gather a group of friends and enjoy some pizza and cake. Now that's a party!
  • Prepare the birthday boy or girl in advance: It's common for kids (especially the little ones) to get overwhelmed and have breakdowns at their own parties. Ease them in by including them in the planning process. My girls love to help pick out music, design the cake, and set out bowls of candy.
  • Involve siblings: Make siblings the "hosts" of the event, so they have a special role and don't feel left out. It's a good opportunity for them to learn to support one another.

What are your favorite party ideas? I'm all ears!

. . . Soleil