dual party two girlsFor a double scoop of fun at your child’s next birthday, try hosting a dual party. Combined parties for siblings, cousins, or friends with close birth dates are a growing trend, says Marnie Ann Pacino, author and illustrator of Cool Party, Mom! The Other Three Words Every Mother Loves to Hear

With kids’ parties becoming bigger, grander affairs, double parties let moms share the workload—and the expense. “Between decorations, invites, favors, activities, and food, it can be exhausting and expensive. Who wouldn’t love some help running errands, cleaning up, and footing the bill?” Pacino says.

And double parties don’t just benefit parents. For kids, a combined party often means a bigger bash with more guests. “A potato-sack race with 20 kids is bound to produce more giggles than the same race with 10 kids!” Pacino says.

Shared parties are also convenient for invitees’ parents. Kathleen Yarbro combined birthday parties for Lilly, 3, and Chloe, 1, because the sisters were born 10 days apart. “Most of the families we’d invite were the same for both girls,” she says. “It made more sense to invite them all at once, instead of asking them to come over two weekends in a row.”

Think a double-decker party might work for your family? Here’s how to host a sweet celebration your child (or children) will love.

Get Input

Ask the kids involved if it’s what they want (if kids are too young to ask, it’s probably a safe bet that they don’t mind sharing the spotlight). Don’t assume all kids necessarily want a combined party. And some children with very different temperaments—one who’s high strung and another who’s more easy-going, for example—may not make compatible party-mates. If the guests of honor are on board, give both kids equal say in planning decisions.

Theme Scheme

If the birthday kids can’t agree on a theme, don’t choose. Instead, let each child pick a theme, and use both. When Christy Ramersrus hosted a double party for her two children, Joslyn, 7, chose a pony theme, while Carson, 4, picked Thomas The Tank Engine. The family had separate decorations and a cake for each child in different rooms of the house. The combination was eclectic, Ramersrus admits, but the arrangement kept her kids happy and their guests entertained.

Gift Guidelines

Buying double the birthday gifts can cause sticker shock. To ensure that people aren’t disinclined from attending for financial reasons, consider specifying simple gifts, or setting a no-present policy. Book exchanges, where each guest brings a book to swap in lieu of a gift, are one way to skirt the issue.

Solo Spotlight

Each birthday child should feel special. Two cakes are a must, as are taking turns being first during games and activities. At the Yarbro party, each girl got her own rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song and sat in a seat of honor to open gifts.

Double parties can be a blast, but they’re not for everyone, Pacino says. Sibling rivalry can be intense at certain times in a child’s development, for example, so consider whether you want to tolerate bickering during what’s supposed to be a fun event. Solo  parties also give kids in large families a rare chance to be the center of attention.

But for many kids, double parties mean double the fun. So set a budget and a date, set realistic expectations, get both guests of honor involved in planning, and prepare to create a double dose of memories.

New Jersey Moms Said:

We asked our Facebook fans if anyone had ever hosted a party for more than one child at a time—and what was the best part about it. No one had pooled the resources of two families, but lots of moms have had success with parties for two siblings. Here’s what a few moms said:

  • “I have twin girls. The best part about their birthday was seeing the looks of appreciation on their faces when the group sang each child their own happy birthday song.” —Jennifer
  • “My girls are 13 mos. apart. I’ve had their bd together a couple of times. Easier to plan one large party than two small a month apart.” —Anne
  • “Success! I do it every year for my two girls. Feb & Mar b-days, two years apart in age. The one thing I learned was to do separate invites so that the parents are not aware it is for both and don’t feel obligated to bring two gifts. The point is less trauma for me, not extra gifts for the girls.” —Kimberly
  • “Both my sons were born on the same day, three years apart. Thus far, it has been a godsend having to plan only one party. I go all out and start planning about 7 months in advance. It is growing to be quite a challenge with the three-year difference; I want to ensure that both the theme and activities are age-appropriate and fun for both of them. I’m sure as they grow older, one or both will want separate celebrations, but for now they love sharing their birthday and birthday celebrations.” —Letty

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