Top Tips for Children’s Parties

Children’s parties can often be feared by grown ups, nightmares of a bunch of children charging about your house and worrying about tears from the birthday child as their friends ransack their toy collection. Parties needn’t be stressful, they should be fun for both the children and the adults. Over the past ten years I have been to thousands of children’s parties and have tested out for myself what works well and have learned the hard way what really doesn’t.

The best parties I’ve been to have kept the children smiling, and the parents have been able to enjoy watching the children have fun and feel relaxed during the afternoon.

I think the key thing is to plan, keep it simple and have a few back up ideas. Have a clear idea of what the children will be doing throughout the party, if you book an entertainer for the first hour, serve food and then plan for the final 30 minutes to be “play time,” have an idea of this will be – let them play in one area or outside, or have a few games ready to keep them occupied.

I’ve outlined here a few tips to help you plan your party which in turn will hopefully help you enjoy your little one’s big day!

1.) THEME:

Think about the theme in advance and ask the birthday child, what are their favourite books, films, toys? It’s a good idea to bear in mind who else is attending and what the ratio of boys to girls will be.  Most themes can work with mixed parties, if your daughter loves fairies why not create a fairies and pirates party? There are lots of online shops selling themed partyware, and on the day play themed music as the guests arrive. Again, keep it simple by giving out the same balloons, party hats, masks – if you have too much choice some children may get upset if they don’t get the pink balloon or the mask their friend has.

2.) VENUE:


Parties can be held anywhere – church halls, front rooms, open gardens, playrooms, restaurants, cafes… you can afford to be very imaginative when selecting a suitable space. If holding it at home, clear away large pieces of furniture, valuables and the birthday child’s space – all you need is an empty space. When selecting a venue, think about if there is enough room for the children to run around in, if the floor is too slippy and be sure there is a nearby bathroom. If you’re encouraging parents to stay, it’s a good idea to book a venue with an ante room away from the main activities.

3.) GUESTS:

Who to invite? The largest parties tend to be for 4/5 year olds, when the birthday child is in the last year of nursery or reception. If you think the numbers are getting too high, perhaps organise a larger party for friends from school and then a birthday tea at home for out of school friends. I think 15 – 25 is a good size for a party.

4.) TIMINGS

No-one wants to feel rushed at a birthday party, or that the fun is being dragged out. Most parties are 2 hour and this includes a tea break after 1 hour of games. Good time slots are 11am – 1pm, 2pm – 4pm, 3pm – 5pm; remember to think about nap/food times for little ones. If booking a venue, make sure you have at least 30 minutes on either side of the party for set up and clearing up times.

5.) INVITATIONS

Speak to other parents about potential clashes, perhaps you can join forces and arrange a joint birthday party? Send out the invites at least a month in advance and keep a list of the RSVPS. It’s likely that you’ll loose a few guests closer to the party due to illnesses.


6.) FOOD

Finger food is best: sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, hula hoops, cucumber sticks, fairy cakes. It’s a good idea to prepare the plates in advance so the children don’t just fill up on treats!

7.) GROWN UPS

If adults are going to stay at the party, encourage them to hang out in an area away from the party entertainment and activities otherwise it can be quite distracting. You can ask older family members to  be helpers on the day, designate a photographer or someone to help with loo trips.

8.) GAMES

Vary the tempo during the party, kids can arrive raring to go and bounding with limitless energy but this can soon waiver and little ones can tire quickly. I suggest playing running around/dancing games (musical statues/shipwreck) at the beginning of the party followed by sitting down parties later on (pass the parcel, guess the missing object).

Happy partying!!

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