If there’s one overarching rule to hosting a kids birthday party, it’s this – plan, plan, plan! Thankfully, the planning can be just as exciting as the party itself (and in many cases, much less exhausting). There are so many considerations to make though – from the space you’ll hold the party at to the overall theme, the games you’ll play, the food you’ll serve, the time of day to host it and even the things you’ll need to prepare to entertain the attending adults – it’s quite a lot to take in, so we have prepared this guide to help you plan a killer kids birthday party.
A Little Party Planning Master
The first step to any great kids party is ensuring the theme is chosen by the child for whom the party is for. There’s no use planning a Frozen themed birthday party if your child hates Frozen – no matter how many of their friends you think will like it.
Up to six weeks before the chosen party date, sit down with your child and have a brainstorming session. Ask them what overall theme they would like (pirates, princesses, zoo animals – whatever) then ask them what type of cake they would like, if they want costumes, what type of finger food they’d like and so on. Further down the track, your child will absolutely love helping you with other stages of planning, like shopping, food preparation, cake decorating etc., so let them join in, as this will greatly increase their anticipation.
Send the Invitations
You need to be sensitive when choosing who to invite to your child’s party, as children can be quite hurt if not invited. The safest bet is to invite either the whole class, or one gender from the class (as in, all the girls). If this is just too much, select only your child’s very best friends. Before sending out the invites, ensure your child’s closest friends will be able to attend on the day.
An invitation should include:
• Your child’s name,
• The name of the invited child,
• The date and time of the party,
• The location,
• Your contact number
• Information about how the invited child should dress or bring
• Information on what the party will entail (such as a ‘baby animal zoo’ or a ‘movie’)
• Information on what food will be served (such as ‘light snacks’ or ‘lunch’)
If parents haven’t RSVP’d two weeks’ prior, give them a call if possible. It’s also a good time to enlist adult helpers at the same time as sending out the invites.
Location, location, location
If you choose to host the party at your home, you’ll benefit by having access to facilities (toilet, water, the contents of your cupboards in case you forget anything etc.) and knowing where everything is, including anything that may be dangerous to children. You’ll also benefit by being able to decorate the area well in advance.
The problem with at-home parties is – of course – the mess. Holding the party in your yard, a park or other public place solves the mess problem, but you’ll need to ensure you have a backup location or shelter – such as a marquee – in case it rains or is too hot. You’ll also likely need to consider bringing some tables and chairs outside, or hiring them. Thankfully, all this is easily sourced from Pillingers Hire, if you’re lucky enough to live in Sydney.
Hiring a hall or hosting a party at a restaurant is a great idea, but will cost extra. Whatever you choose, ensure you’re able to restrain the children to one area that’s always well supervised by adults.
Don’t Clash with Nap Time
This is an often-overlooked consideration, but is so important. Depending on your child’s age, you’ll want to plan to hold the party at a time when the guests are not too tired or hungry.
• For little ones (1 to 5), the best time is usually just after their morning nap time (usually after 10 am), but you’ll likely need to consult with parents to agree on a suitable time for all. Parties for very young children shouldn’t exceed an hour.
• For mid-aged children (6 to 9), parties are best held from mid to late afternoon and should run for 1.5 to 2 hours.
• For children over 10, late afternoon time slots tend to be the most popular and anything up to three hours is generally acceptable.
This is a tough one as many parents are opting for treat-free parties these days, much to the chagrin of the attending children! The general rule is to serve both healthy, additive-free foods, alongside a little bit of junk. This way, kids (or their parents) can choose between the two. If you want to opt for a healthy party, that’s excellent, but just ensure your food choices are bright and appealing (think fruit jelly, sandwich shapes and mini healthy pizzas), as kids are very visual little beings and will balk at food that looks too healthy or green.
On the other hand, it’s a brave parent who only serves junk food at their child’s party these days. If you do though, at least the kids will love you! The cake is different – make that as decadent as you’d like! Nobody would dare complain.
Fun and Games
For younger children, it’s a good idea to space entertainment and games into easily tolerated 10 to 15 minute chunks. Anything longer than this and they may become bored or overstimulated. The same can be said about present opening time, cake cutting and eating time. Older kids are more flexible, so won’t need as much structure.
A card with a schedule written on it is a good idea to keep the party moving. Don’t feel like you need to stick to the set schedule though, if the kids don’t appear to be enjoying an activity – just move on to the next one as needed. Some good ideas for activities include:
• A craft table (which is great to keep kids entertained while other guests arrive)
• A dance floor
• A baby animal petting zoo
• A clown or magician
• A balloon artist or fairy
• Face Painting
• A professional storyteller
• Games such as egg and spoon race, pass the parcel, three legged race, Simon says, musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, treasure hunt, dress ups, obstacle course and playground equipment
• A DJ
• A dance lesson
• A hairstyle or makeup session
• Games such as charades, Pictionary, video games, dance competitions. Older kids also enjoy the same sort of games as younger kids!
Finally, party favours are still extremely popular amongst young and old and are a great way of saying thank you for attending. If you can match your party favours to your theme, even better!