My younger son will be turning three this weekend (and Susan’s middle child will have a birthday soon, too!).  So, you can only imagine the preparations that are happening around our home right now.  Grocery lists are mounting, decorations are being sorted and created, RSVPs are actually coming in, and food is being prepared.  But, in all of this, I have discovered the most important part of pre-party preparation is having my son be an intregal part of it.

With my older son, I always put together everything, from goody bags to cakes to party planning.  And, he enjoyed himself.  However, with my younger son, I am learning to allow a little “help” in the preparation.  Don’t get me wrong; having an extra pair of hands (especially almost three year old hands) around to help out does not necessarily equate to a smoother and quicker go of things.  In fact, I have to allow for extra time in each of my tasks.  But, the payoff is priceless.

Last night, my son helped me assemble his party favor bags.  We stamped trains on brown paper sacks and then used foam letters (with the peel off sticky backs) to spell out each young guest’s name.  He took great pride in stamping the trains just so and finding the right letters for each name.  At almost three, this was definitely a learning experience, but he had so much fun and is so proud of the treat bags he helped create.  I also had him help me stuff the bags.  We made an assembly line on the dining room table and put together our bags.  Granted, what would have taken me 15 -20 minutes lasted almost an hour, but talk about a bonding and learning experience for him (and me!).

Today, we got started on our cakes.  I am usually a stickler about being the lone body in the kitchen, but we were both home together, the house was quiet, and he was curious as to what I was doing.  So, together we made his cakes.  I set up the mixer and measured the ingredients, but he was the one to add them all to the bowl.  He even learned to crack an egg properly, something my older son has probably never done!  Then, he helped me with the mixing bowl and pouring the batter into the pans.  Again, the entire task took me about twice as long, but we were able to work together and my son was able to feel the accomplishment of creating something wonderful.

Tomorrow, my younger son will help hang the decorations, arrange the balloons, and set the table for our guests.  And he has also learned to appreciate the effort that goes into honoring someone.  He’s thrilled about his party, but I have a feeling he’s grown more in the past two days than I could ever think possible.

Invite your child to help out with special occasions, and together you can find ways to learn and share together.