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Thomas & Friends kid's birthday party - what worked and didn't

We had a Thomas & Friends themed birthday party over this past Easter
weekend at home. I couldn't have asked for a nicer weekend. The
weather was sunny and hot, and I believe the kids had fun. We had the
bouncy castle in full effect in the backyard and had BBQ going.

Some of the children activities included:
1) Easter egg hunt;
2) Tape the tail on the donkey blindfolded (we didn't want to use pins);
3) Hit the Pinata shaped like one of the Thomas & Friends characters;
4) Thomas & Friends birthday ice cream cake from Dairy Queen;
5) Trip to the Sullivan Heights Elementary School playground;
6) Gift opening;
6) and all day bouncy castle bouncing.

Some things that worked well for this birthday included:
1) Order birthday supplies 11 days in advance from
http://www.birthdayexpress.com. Everyone enjoyed the banner.
2) Use Facebook to set up the event and to send out quick invites.
It's quicker than sending out snail mail invites (although we had nice
themed cards).
3) Schedule the party from 1pm-4pm.
4) Get plenty of help (including paid help).

Things that didn't work include:
1) Don't have it at home. We spent too and instead should have it at a
2 hour party room at YMCA for example.
2) Don't guess number of guests. Send out followup RSVPs closer to the
date to verify head count and prepare food accordingly.
3) Do not purchase those helium cannisters to fill up baloons the
night before. They will not last for more than 12 hours. Just buy the
baloons from Dollarama.
4) Do not stay up late. Get plenty of sleep the night before. We were
tired during the event which doesn't help.

What's your experience with birthday party preparations for kids?

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