1. Would you describe the Celebrationz4U network of websites and what the sites offer to readers?
In 2007, taking the cue from some of my friends and reaching back to find something I knew and could share, I developed my first website, ForBrideAndBaby.com. Within the pages of the site you will find some of the most unique ideas for weddings and babies that the web has to offer. With the success of For Bride and Baby, I felt the desire to expand my business to include a websites where my current--and hopefully, new!--subscribers can find all the information necessary to throw fabulous children's birthday parties, and I started BirthdayPartyKidz.com. In 2010, after seven grandchildren, I decided to start HalloweenKidz.com as a place to find Halloween costumes to match any theme, as well as fun costumes and accessories for kids to use year-round while playing dress-up.
2. How did you first become interested in the party supplies / party planning business?
I have been an entrepreneur for over 30 years. Twenty years ago, I was the owner of the Northbrook, Illinois-based Kreative Kids and Parties, Inc. where I taught music and imagination classes to local children ages two through five. I also created a music and imagination class that I performed at children’s birthday parties. Kids and their moms still run up to me on the street and tell me I sang at their parties or at their children's parties!
From those parties came a personalized entertainment service selecting and contracting over fifty entertainers for parties. Several years later, I opened a complete party goods store providing the party goods and goody bags for children's parties--and favors and centerpieces for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other parties. Now on its third owner, Kreative Parties is still a prominent business in the Northern Chicago suburbs.
3. What are some of your personal favorite ideas for party themes?
I have three daughters, so I'm partial to princess parties. Little girls love to dress up as princesses and invite their friends to court. The classic princesses like Cinderella are still popular. Princess party supplies are abundant and you'll find everything from tiaras to thank you notes for all the princess parties. Now that I have three grandsons, I get to see some boys birthday party themes like the Avengers, Batman, Spiderman, trucks, and tractors. I'm not sure that I have a favorite!
I also love Halloween parties. They can be made colorful and fun without being scary, and who doesn't like candy?
4. What do you think are the special touches that make a good party into a great party?
That's an easy one! Planning for every detail of the party is vital. I've created a birthday party checklist to eliminate forgetting anything; the checklist is available at BirthdayPartyKidz.com. There's also a bridal shower checklist and Planning a Baby Shower Ebook available on ForBrideandBaby.com.
The best parties have contingency plans and a complete schedule of activities from the time the guests arrive until you hand them a party favor. For kids' birthday parties, I always recommend getting some extra help. For less than you think, you can have your babysitter or a local college student or high schooler come and help with the kids and the serving. It's a lifesaver.
In planning parties with my own kids, we always started with a theme. It was often a decision based on many days of serious discussions between my daughters--who had minds of their own--and me, wanting to make them very happy.
5. Do you have advice for ways to find bargains and keep costs down when it comes to buying party supplies?
My number one tip is that you have an at-home birthday party. It's warm and fuzzy, and even with a professional clown or magician, it costs less than the local "in" place. At-home parties are also perfect for bridal showers, baby showers, and most any celebration. Once again, with the money you save in hosting your party at home, you can always spend just a little extra and hire some outside help.