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They can be, with a little advance planning. The most important step is to know WHAT the main purpose for the event is. You should be able to say, "This party is really to celebrate ______________ with ___________." Sure, it may be easy to say it is to celebrate Sally's birthday, but is it just that? Ask yourself what it will involve or with who. Her family? Classmates? Friends?
If the party is to celebrate with friends, then you know to focus your planning more on the group fun. Family? You should be planning more about the sitting together and chatting to catch up. School and classmates party? This will have to be a quick party and adhering to the teacher's rules. Once you have established the core reason for the party, it will become easier to establish the guest list, decorations, food, etc.
For a friends party, the day is more about the activities and party theme. Kids do not seem to care about the food much (except the cake and ice cream) or the specific decorations. For a school party, its more about the special treat. And for family, it's all about the food and decorations!
Take your time and spend it on those areas that seem more of a priority for the guests at the party. Don't stress trying to do it all. Remember, it's a celebration! The fun will be long remembered, not the small stuff you forgot or didn't have go perfectly.