By Lance Avery Morgan
Hosting a child’s party can create a conundrum, can’t it? There are very few mothers in the world who know how to entertain at a high level… especially for a child’s stellar birthday party. Here, Lara Shriftman, dear friend and founding partner of Harrison & Shriftman Public Relations in Los Angeles and New York, shares her sharp hostess-with-the-mostest skills and strategies for the junior set, like she does with her son and my favorite six-year-old, Lucas Bacardi Shiriftman.
Lara Shriftman hosts a special birthday party, in her own words…
Like most boys who are “five-and-three-quarters,” Lucas is fixated with professional sports. He loves basketball and was thrilled when I took him to his first Miami Heat game last year; so it came as no surprise when he told me he wanted a basketball-themed party to celebrate his 6th birthday.
Lucas loved the pizza making “surprise party” his father, Juan Bacardi and I hosted at Soho Beach House in Miami for his birthday last year. This year he suggested that we celebrate at Soho House in Los Angeles with a movie screening of the 90’s classic Space Jam, pizza making with the chef, and a basketball theme for décor – I thought it was a great idea.
He loves to plan parties, and loves to plan them early and “get creative.” He wanted a general basketball themed party, not everyone loves the heat.
Invitations and Printables
Every year I work with my favorite design duo, Anders Ruff to create a one-of-a-kind invitation to set the theme for the party. This year, Lucas and I agreed on a simple and classic basketball invitations and labels. Anders Ruff created a wonderful invitation card that invited Lucas’ friends to join us at the Soho House in Los Angeles for pizza-making and a movie screening. Anders Ruff also helped us make create other printables such as chocolate bar wrappers, water bottle labels, and gift bag toppers and thank you notes.
We bought small water bottles from Trader Joe’s, took the labels off, wrapped them in custom labels from Anders Ruff, and sealed them with double-stick tape.
Lucas and I created the guest list together. I had guests respond to Lucas’ own e-mail address so that he could practice his reading and writing and correspondence. We used this list to create address labels for thank you cards.
We shopped the aisles at Michaels to find inspiration for what to do at the party. We picked out letter, themed and colored beads so that guests could make bracelets, and/or key chains for their backpacks.
We bought white T-shirts in different sizes, and iron-on letters and numbers so that the kids could design their own team jerseys.
We bought blank iron-on paper and made iron-ons as memorabilia for Lucas’ birthday and teams so the kids could create their own custom team jerseys.
We hired our favorite calligrapher, Jillian Yam- Phee of 2heartsB1 Designs to help make the crafts on the day of the party.
The kids made their own pizza with the Soho house chef.
For the Girls
Lucas and I recently read an article about our favorite candy girl, Dylan Lauren creating the Candy Girl Collection for Claire’s. We know and love Dylan, since Harrison & Shriftman hosted her store opening in Miami. The collection is for girls of all ages, from ‘tweens to 30-year-olds. Dylan thinks of candy as a beautiful work of art, so her packaging is rock art. The collection consists of Rock Candy lip gloss, Gumball necklaces, jewelry, i-Phone covers, press-on nails and Lucas immediately wanted to do that for the girls at the party.
We wanted to keep it simple–the SoHo House is so chic — We did one long table for the kids to make their own pizza and eat it.
· We created a runner for the center of the table that looked like a basketball court.
· We wanted simple balloons, so we ordered them from Birthdayinabox.com.
· We tied the napkins with basketball whistles – another treat kids could take home.
· We wrapped the glasses with custom koozies we made with stickers.
We did a simple arrangement from Birthdayinabox.com that went with the theme.
“The Cake Divas” have done desserts for me for the past 15 years. to create fabulous desserts that Lucas and his friends will love. Lucas and I scanned the computer for inspiration to come up with ideas. This year we worked together to create a basketball cake surrounded by cupcakes, cake pops, and cookies shaped like Lucas’ favorite LeBron James trainers. Of course, he wanted Nutella filling. These treats were both beautiful and delicious.
The Gift Bags were the jewelry, keychains and jerseys that they created at the party. We just did white bags with labels for this station.
Giving back is really important and I’ve tried to teach it to Lucas at an early age. Every year, we donate half of the gifts to charity. Last year we donated to the Miami Children’s Hospital.
Thank You Notes
Hand-written thank you notes are a must. Every year we create a thank you note at the same time we make the invite. It is a good way for Lucas to practice writing. We also return the labels at the same time. And it also helps with his coordination and gets him in the habit of writing thank you notes.