How to Plan a Kids Birthday Party Using SkyDrive

Sketchblog of Party Planning via SkyDrive

My daughter is turning three in a couple of days and my wife and I have planned her birthday party over the past few weeks. We like to formulate ideas over time and build up the party instead of sitting down and planning everything at once. Since we’re both busy parents with full-time jobs and our own after work activities, it’s often the case that we’re planning pieces of the party when the other isn’t around. To help keep all this activity straight, we use Microsoft SkyDrive and the Office Web Apps available there to craft a plan. Here’s how we did it.

Theme

Our daughter loves the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crew, so Mickey Mouse is the obvious theme. My wife started out with the invitations and had an idea that she drafted and uploaded a PDF to our shared folder on SkyDrive. This allowed me to pull it up on my Windows Phone to get a feel for it. Back at the office, I pulled it up on my computer and gave it a better look. I emailed off my comments and with that, we were off to the races.

Guest List

For years we’ve made guest lists in Excel as a way to stay organized. Parties, Christmas card lists, etc. For our wedding we had a guest list in Excel that we used not only to plan out who to invite, but also to drive a mail merge in Word for all the envelopes. While we didn’t do a mail merge for this birthday party, we did collaborate on the guest list using Excel on SkyDrive.

Screenshot of a Birthday Guestlist in ExcelBy keeping the file in SkyDrive, we could do a couple of things. One, the most recent version of the file would always be available to review. Contrast this with sending emails with attached files. That gets messy fast. SkyDrive lets you edit the document in your web browser for when you don’t have Excel on your computer. If you do, you can open up the document in Excel on your computer and make any necessary changes. Saving the file will immediately update the version in SkyDrive.

Plus, by keeping a column for the gift description, we can easily track who gave a gift and who decided that cheaping out on a 3-year-old was the right way to go. Since Windows Phone has Excel built-in, you can open the Excel file on your phone during the gift opening and type in the information immediately. No need to write it on paper and enter it later, nor do you have to sit at a computer while your daughter opens presents. Just hand your phone to someone and tell them to type in the gift information. Then you can go back later, use the same list to write and address the thank you notes.

Menu

Screenshot of a grocery shopping list in OneNoteWe have a lot of people coming not only for the party, but for the entire weekend. Our little family of three balloons to around 10 depending on who is at the house each day. We like to have our family stay with us, so as well as the birthday party food, we need to plan a menu for three days. This is part of our weekly routine and how we schedule our meals throughout the week.

We use OneNote both on the computer and in the OneNote Web App to plan out the meals for each day and then make a shopping list. Then, this shopping list is easily opened up on the Windows Phone and grocery shopping becomes a breeze. Plus, if one of us is out at the grocery store, the other can even update the list in real-time.

Schedule

With so many people in and around the house, it’s nice to print out a schedule of the planned activities so everyone knows what’s happening when. For this, we use Word to create a nice single-page document to print out and give copies to family. Again, since it’s in SkyDrive, it’s easily reviewed and updated by either one of us when it inevitably changes.

Photos

Screenshot of the SkyDrive desktop application on Windows 7It’s important to take lots of photos of your kid’s birthday party. This is our first daughter and already we can see how the time slips away. Using our Windows Phones, we can take pictures on the phone and immediate put them on SkyDrive to share with family and friends. Photos taken with our bigger camera are edited in Photoshop Lightroom, then uploaded to SkyDrive using the SkyDrive for Windows Desktop Preview. This application creates a special folder in your documents library that makes it super easy to simply copy photos up to SkyDrive. No need to open up a web browser.

On Your Own

Once the party has started, you’re on your own. At least you’ll be ready and stress free since the planning was such a breeze!

How have you used SkyDrive? Let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @kenstone