Party tips: Throwing the best ever children’s party

Being organised and putting some time and energy into planning the party can make the difference between ending the day in smiles or tears, and we don’t just mean your child’s!

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Set a Date and time

Between busy schedules and other children’s birthday parties, it can be difficult to find a date that works for everyone. So the first thing to do, once you’ve decided on a date is send out the invitations at least 4-6 weeks in advance – you could even send out a save the date email well in advance to be sure.

Similarly, book the venue as soon as possible, especially if it’s very popular. If you want to save a bit of money, chat with the other parents to see when their children’s birthday is and you could double up.

Kids party - Sandwiches and cakes

Deciding how long the party should last can be difficult, and will be dependent on the age of children and the activities planned. As a guide, parties should last around two hours.

Budget

This can be a stressful item for a parents list for two reasons. One, money might be tight but you don’t want your child to know, or two, there is a big competition between parents in your child’s class to put on the best party and outdo each other.

Both of these issues can be avoided if you set a budget and obtain your child’s input, speak to your child. Make sure you propose a list of activities that are within your budget. As long as they are having fun, they are not likely to notice if you bought table cloths at John Lewis or Asda, they’ll both look the same by the time the kids are through with them!

Guests

Some schools have rules that the whole class, up to a certain age, needs to be invited to parties. Check into this before you start planning so that you don’t get a big surprise at the end.

Decide if you are expecting parents to stay or drop and run. As a rule, you can assume if a child is under five their parents will stay, however, if a child is over five it becomes less clear, so make sure you ask, or make a note on your invitations that states either way.  Make sure you have enough adult helpers to make things run smoothly.

Invitations

Whether you’re posting, hand delivering or emailing invitations, make sure to include the following details:

Name of birthday child: Make sure you include your child’s surname in case there is more than one Adam or Emma in the class.

Day, date and length of the Party.

Where the party is going to be held: The more information you include here the less questions you will need to answer. If you are emailing, you can also attach a Google map.

Don’t forget to put an R.S.V.P (with date) on the invitation with your telephone number or email address. A telephone number is a good idea in case there are any issues on the day.

Make sure if it’s fancy dress you let people know on the invitation. It’s never fun to be the child who doesn’t show up in costume.

Theme /Decorations

Kids Party in Club Room 2

Having a theme will help you decide what decorations you need, what activities you can adapt and what entertainment is needed, if any. Party themes can be anything from a garden party to a full on pirate invasion. As children get older they may be influenced by a TV show or film they have seen.

Decorations can be as simple as balloons and streamers or as elaborate as wall displays and replicas, just remember to stick to your budget.

Food

pancakes HAPPYBIRTHDAY_CAKE_RECIPE_101212_AP

The food you need to organise will depend on the time of day you hold the party. Although every party needs some level of party food.  Of course you’ll have a cake, or cupcakes to finish things off, but when it comes to the main course, keep it simple and balanced.

Finger foods are easy and they usually go down well, just make sure you have a healthy option to go with it.  It’s a good idea to ask on the invitation if there are any allergies. It’s not worth the risk! If you haven’t asked be on the safe side and leave anything with nuts off the menu.

When it comes to drinks, some parents are dead set against their children having fizzy drinks, some even object to juice. Having some bottled water as an alternative, or sticking to no sugar added squash can eliminate this conundrum.

Entertainment

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Entertainment can be tricky and expensive. The first decision is, are you doing it yourself or are you hiring someone to do it for you? Obviously doing it yourself is cheaper, but hiring someone for an hour or two can reduce the hassle and eliminate a desire to pull out your hair.

If you are going to do it yourself, make sure you have LOTS planned, it’s amazing how short attention spans equate to. Changing traditional games to suit your theme can be fun and entertaining. Depending on the age of your child, musical chairs can become musical manhole covers, or lily pads. Pin the tail on the donkey becomes pin the wings on the fairy or you can bob for golden pirate treasure (aka apples), pass the parcel or in moments of sheer madness, sleeping lions.

Your own creativity is the only limit here. Remember that if the game you are playing eliminates children, you’ll need to entertain the ones that are out. Having a small prize for everyone who plays tends to avoid tears as well.

If you’ve decided to bring in an entertainer, make sure you know what they need and have everything ready well in advance of their arrival. There’s nothing worse than a delay in the entertainment that could have been avoided. Remember to check the references of any entertainer you hire.

Gifts

birthday cake girl

Traditionally in the UK, gifts are opened after the guests have gone home. But as cultures merge this is less clear, so it’s up to you how you play it. If you do open them at the party, make sure you have an adult close at hand to write down who gave them, as gift tags and cards have a way of going walk about, and trying to remember later is a logistical nightmare.

Thank you notes are a must, first of all its polite and second of all it’s a great habit to get your children into early in life.

Party bags

Most people wonder how much they should spend on party bags and what should go in them.

It used to be simple, a few sweets in a bag and the children were satisfied, now it has become at risk of being sucked into “keeping up with the Jones” territory.  Set a total budget for party bags, this can be as low as £1 per bag – remember this is a thank you not a gift! Avoid anything that contain nuts. Buy items in bulk and divide them between the bags. Things like wrapped sweets and chocolate work well for this.

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