Frequently Asked Questions

“Can I bake a cake or does it have to be store bought?”

Cakes can be purchased or baked. We do make sure the cakes are well made, although we do not sample the cakes. Quality is very important. The cake does not have to be a masterpiece, but should taste yummy. All cake bakers must successfully complete our background screening process. Cupcakes are OK, and are preferable for onsite group parties. When donating a cake, please keep in mind how special it is for a child to see their name on their very own cake, whether you are baking the cake or purchasing one. For a lot of children, it will be their first time with their name on a cake.

“I am interested in delivering Birthday Boxes. What is the process?”

Delivery dates and time frames are specified on the website. With advance notice, we can make sure we have the entire birthday box available for early pick up and delivery if you need to deliver a day or two before the actual party. After a successful background screening, you can sign up to deliver as many birthdays as you would like. Currently, Birthday Boxes are picked up in Renton and in some cases in Bellevue. You will need room for the Birthday Box which contains the party supplies and goody bags, the cake, gifts and helium filled balloons.

“Do you screen your volunteers?”

We screen our volunteers 16 and older who:
1. Volunteer at the onsite group parties at the shelters
2. Bake cakes
3. Deliver Birthday Boxes

“I have signed up online to volunteer at an onsite group party. What happens next?”

Within 24 hours, your submission will be reviewed by a Party Coordinator. The Party Coordinator will then email you with all party specifics and to answer any questions you may have. Please note, if you are signing up to volunteer at a party that is less than 48 hours away, the Coordinator may not have sufficient time to confirm your attendance. We ask that anyone interested in volunteering at a party submit their information at least 48 hours in advance of the party date.

“What kind of experience should I expect when I volunteer at a party?”

Every shelter has its own unique culture. Your Party Coordinator will be able to tell you exactly what to expect at your party. For the children living in shelters, Birthday Dreams parties are always a joyous occasion that allows them to feel special and honored. There is a lot of excitement, laughter, smiles and overall happiness! Volunteers are expected to help set up, engage with the children and their parents, help serve cake and juice, play games, and clean up.

“I have signed up to donate birthday gifts for a child. What does this entail?”

Each birthday child should receive 3-4 brand new gifts in original, unopened packaging. Gifts should total between $25 and $35 per child, and include one bigger gift (doll, remote control car, action figures, Legos, etc.) and then a few smaller gifts (books, puzzles, games, matchbox cars, stuffed animal, etc.). Most children will have gift ideas or a wish list which is published on website. When giving gifts that require batteries, please include the batteries.  We do not want to make the child wait to play with the new toys.

“What is a typical party? How long will it last?”

A typical party lasts approximately 60 minutes. Face painting, crafts and games usually happen simultaneously and last for 45 minutes. Volunteers assist with craft projects and play games with the children, encouraging them with kind words and high fives. We then sing Happy Birthday and enjoy cake while the birthday children open gifts. At the end of the party all children receive goody bags. Volunteers are typically asked to arrive 20-30 minutes before the start of the party for set-up, and stay 10-15 minutes after the party for clean-up.

“What is a Birthday-in-a-Box?”

Our Birthday-in-a-Box program is for safe shelters and other living facilities which cannot accommodate Birthday Dreams volunteers or are located in areas where we do not yet have a strong volunteer base. Party supplies and gifts are carefully packaged within a wrapped birthday box for each birthday child, so they are able to celebrate their birthday with family and friends.  A Birthday-in-a-Box contains gifts, cakes, and themed party supplies.  All party supplies must be new, unused and in original packaging. Everything should be contained in a box that has been wrapped in birthday-themed wrapping paper. For a complete list of birthday box items, please visit our Birthday-in-a-Box Guidelines.  You can donate an entire Birthday-in-a-Box, or you can choose to just donate the cake or the gifts or the party supplies. 

“How do I sign-up to volunteer at a party and donate items for the party?”

It is easy to sign up to donate to a party or to volunteer to deliver or help at a party.  After you create an account, navigate to the Birthday Schedule > View All Details page. To donate an item to a party you click the “Donate ...” link.  You will receive a confirmation email from the Party Coordinator. If you donate an item to a party, the Party Coordinator will work with you to arrange to pick-up or drop-off the item before the party starts. In order to attend a party as a volunteer, you need to click the “Volunteer” link. Many of our shelters are small and can only accommodate a limited number of people. Please note: The only way to volunteer at an actual party is to sign up for a “Donate” space online.

“What happens if nobody signs up to donate all the items for a birthday party?”

In this case, we look at the gift donations we have on our shelves to see if we have at least one item on the child's wish list. If not, then we use donated funds to shop for the child. We also keep party supplies on hand to assemble the Birthday Boxes. If a cake is not donated, then we order one for the child with donated funds.

“When I sign-up on online as a volunteer, is it okay to bring my children?”

Because the majority of our shelters are small and can accommodate only a limited number of people, we ask that you sign up separately for each individual within your group. Space permitting, we more than welcome children to help at our parties and find that children over the age of 7 are best suited to help with crafts, games and clean-up, provided the younger children are with a parent.

“I really want to volunteer with my children to teach them the value of giving back to those less fortunate. Is that possible?”

Children are not only welcome to volunteer with Birthday Dreams, they are encouraged. Children 5 and up are able to volunteer at the Onsite Group Parties at the shelters. Another great way for children to get involved is to ask for donations for Birthday Dreams when they have a birthday party or special event. The Goody Bag Party is an ideal way for children to volunteer, either with their family or with a group of children. Even teenagers have fun decorating and filling goody bags for our birthday kids.

“What is a Goody Bag Party?”

At Birthday Dreams, we think it is important that children can say thank you to their guests by giving them goody bags. Between the Birthdays-in-a-Box program and the onsite parties, we go through 400 - 600 goody bags each month. The goody bags are made of colored paper and are decorated and filled with toys and candy. A Goody Bag Party is a great event for groups, whether it is a company's team building event, a scout group, church group or teenagers from Key Club. Groups are encouraged to collect or purchase items to fill the goody bags. Birthday Dreams will provide the bags and ribbon to tie them. For more information about hosting your own goody bag party, either at the Birthday Dreams office or your own location, please call us at (425) 988-3954.

“I love to knit, sew, crochet and do wood working. Are there other ways I can volunteer and utilize my skills?”

Absolutely! A lot our of birthday girls request dolls. We would love to have an outfit to give them with each doll. And can you imagine the look on their faces if their doll came with a bed made in your garage? Do you have other ideas? Please let us know.

“I love this organization and would like to be more involved?”

Wonderful! We have many ways to be involved. You can be a Party Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, serve on a committee or the Board of Directors, volunteer at the office to wrap and assemble birthday boxes or help with our community outreach program.