Tips for Pulling Off a Successful Kid Birthday Party From the Manager of One of DC’s Busiest Restaurants

Follow this advice and your event will go flawlessly–and you'll stay sane.

Balloons are a fast and stress-free way to decorate. Image via iStock.

On a busy weekend day, 1,800 patrons pass through Farmers Fishers Bakers on the Georgetown waterfront. It’s service manager Erich Stumpe‘s job to make sure the front of the house team works smoothly and diners have a good time, so he knows a thing or two about how to flawlessly execute guest experiences. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of throwing a birthday bash for your kid or you want some tips for taking your game to the next level, these helpful tips are Stumpe’s gift to you.

Keep it simple

“The main idea should be to enjoy time with our family and friends, not run around focusing on details that at the end of the day will be insignificant. Don’t overthink things.”

Have a budget

“And make sure you stay in it, so you don’t stress out about the financial element.”

Set a timer

“For your sanity and everyone else’s, make sure there is a clear start and ending.”

Choose your menu wisely

“A little bit of everything makes everyone happy. Don’t go too heavy in one category, like three beef dishes, but no chicken or fish. Make sure to ask your guests in advance about any dietary restrictions and plan accordingly.”

Don’t waste resources on decorations 

“Your kid won’t remember the tablecloth or the confetti. Balloons make a big impression and they’re quick and easy.”

Call in reinforcements

“The more helpers, the better. Think about tapping grandparents, uncles, aunts, and close friends.”

Keep calm and carry on

“People are looking to you to lead. They’re going to feed off whatever energy you’re putting off. If you’re anxious, that’s what they’ll feel. If you’re cool, calm, and collected, that what’s going to happen.”

Stop meltdowns in their tracks

“If your little one is having a moment, take them outside for a pep talk, let them vent and cry away from everyone else, and then get back to the party. A little treat will pick up their energy or a silly toy can further distract them.

Savor the moment

“Make sure you enjoy the party, because these events only come once.”




Parenting writer

Nevin Martell is a parenting, food, and travel writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Saveur, Men’s Journal, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, Runner’s World, and many other publications. He is author of eight books, including It’s So Good: 100 Real Food Recipes for Kids, Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America’s Favorite Rural Bakery, and the small-press smash Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip. When he isn’t working, he loves spending time with his wife and their six-year-old son, who already runs faster than he does.