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Parties

Surprise your bestie with a birthday bash

She’s your best bud, and it’s her birthday. She’s always doing sweet things for you, so why not throw her a special party for her big day? Feel like you’re clueless when it comes to entertaining the crew? GL is here to help you pull it off.
First impressions
Getting your bash scratched onto everyone’s agenda is easy (and free) if you use an invite, like evite.com. Want to make it a little more personal? Create an invite, make enlarged copies, and glue them to pieces of construction paper. Cut each one out into puzzle pieces, and drop them in personalized envelopes. The girls will have to put the pieces together to get the big party picture.

Another cute idea is to photocopy her baby picture onto cardstock and make postcard-style invites. Write a funny poem on the back: “In ’93, Leah came to be. It’s her big one-two, she wants to spend it with you.” Don’t forget to include important details like where, when, and whether or not it’s a surprise. Give the gang plenty of notice by shooting invites out 3 to 4 weeks before the bash. 
The B(day) list
OK, who makes the cut? It’s always tempting to go for an all-out bash, but reuniting your friend with her entire pre-K crew isn’t manageable. Also ask yourself whether she’d prefer something girls-only or if she’d want boys there. If her dream day includes manis and pedis, it’s probably not cool to ask her crush along. 
Birthday B&B
…that’s budgeting and bargaining. Just because you’re organizing this get-together doesn’t mean your wallet has to suffer. Have a pay-to-play policy—ask each party-goer to pitch in. Just talk to the crew beforehand to make sure they’re all cool with going splitsies.
Your BFF is obsessed with So You Think You Can Dance? Call a local dance studio to organ-ize a salsa lesson at a group rate. Doing the spa thing? See if the salon will offer a student discount on manis and pedis. Often, if you can guarantee a crowd, the manager will cut you a deal.  
A little help, please!
Dole out small jobs. Get someone to pick up balloons. Another girl could bake a cake. This way, everyone can get excited for the party together and you can keep a cool head. It’s also a good idea to include your BFF’s parents in the planning process or at least let her family know what you’d like to do.  
The perfect prezzie
Make your bud’s day one she’ll never forget. Have each guest give you a pic of herself with the birthday girl along with a short note of funny memories. Before the big day, host a scrapbooking session. After your BFF blows out the candles, give her the personalized present.
Another bright idea? Grab a camcorder, and videotape birthday wishes ahead of time from each guest. Hold a screening at the party. It’s thoughtful and makes a swell keepsake.
Set the mood
Presentation is everything. You can make inexpensive accessories look like you spent a fortune. Remember this: dollar store = jackpot. Themes also help pull party décor together. Was she born in the ’90s? Make it an “I love the ’90s” theme. She’s crazy for Carrie Underwood? Go with country-western. 
Have your cupcake...and eat it, too!
Can’t have a party without food! Set up a do-it-yourself personal pizza-making station in the kitchen. Buy 8-inch pizza crusts, then set up bowls of marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced pepperoni and cut-up veggies. Get everyone to do their make-your-own pizzas. Bake pizzas for 8 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted and edges are golden.
As for birthday cake, why not go with cupcakes? Pipe your friend’s first-name initial in colored icing on the top of each cake. Before everyone devours them, assemble cupcakes on a platter, and stick candles in them so she still gets a song and a wish. Oh, and don’t forget the ice cream. 
Get the party started
No staring contests allowed. Break the ice with a round of Who Knows Her Best? Come up with 20 questions about your bud that everyone has to take turns trying to answer. Ask things like her favorite snack, her celebrity crush, most prized possession.… Give a small prize to the guessing-game champ. 
Don't forget to have fun
You’ve completely run out of ice? Or worse, someone spilled punch on your brand-new skirt? Relax. It’s a party, and parties are meant to be fun, fun, fun. And as long as the hostess is having a good time, your friends will too.

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by Laura Berg and Jasmen Davis | 2/1/2016
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