Throwing a great birthday party isn’t as simple as inviting a bunch of kids and providing cake. To make sure your bash is the best – with as little stress as possible – check out these planning tips:
• If your child has a best friend make sure they can come on the date you are planning for the party before you go ahead with bookings and invitations. The day just won’t be the same without their partner in crime by their side.
Involve the birthday party boy or girl in the planning
• If your child is old enough, sit down with him or her and offer a few suggestions for the theme and structure of the party, and let the birthday boy or girl choose from your list the one they want. Don’t ask your child to come up with the party plan because disappointment may follow when you say no to a petting zoo on your apartment’s balcony.
• Plan what you are going to eat, play and give to each child when they leave. Start collecting party paraphernalia a couple of weeks prior to the big day and store it all in a plastic tub so it’s easy to access when party time arrives.
• Create a checklist to keep track of the who’s who of your party.
• Big is not always best.
• The rule of thumb is that the number of guests should be the age of your child plus one once your child is aged three and over.
• If you are planning games make sure the amount of children invited fits with the type of games you have chosen.
• Older children handle bigger groups better than younger children.
• Order personalised invitations six weeks before the party. Send out invitations at least three weeks ahead of time. Many venues provide invitations so make sure to ask if you’re holding the party away from home.
• There are also free electronic invitations that you email to all invited children and then receive RSVPs electronically.
• Weekend parties are better for younger children and family can attend too, while older children will enjoy an after school party, if you can manage it. They love spending all day in anticipation of going home together, plus your party won’t clash with Saturday sport. If you are planning a Sunday party, keep in mind many people attend church in the morning.
• The time of day you choose to start your child’s party depends on whether you want to serve a meal or cut straight to cake.
• If serving a meal, start the party between 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
• If you plan to serve cake only, have your party two hours before or one hour after traditional meal times, for example, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
• Home parties are generally less expensive than hired venues and you are free to hold the party at whatever time suits your family and guests.
• Venues, on the other hand, can be exciting and make your job a lot easier.
• If you want to serve a small meal, keep the offerings simple. Familiar snacks like pizza or sandwiches work well and can be turned into special party food by using cookie cutters to make star-shaped sandwiches or heart-shaped pizza.
• If parents are dropping off children at the party, be sure you know about any food allergies. It’s best to avoid anything with nuts (including peanut butter sandwiches) because so many children are allergic to them. Or order in to save time.
• Sometimes old-fashioned games work best for the youngest children. Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Simon Says are exciting for four-year olds because they may be discovering them for the first time.
• Six year olds may like a twist on an old favourite such as Pin the tiara on the princess or the Eye patch on the pirate. Older children will be ready for simple crafts like making pirate hats or treasure boxes.
• Encourage your child to say thank-you when the present is given to them and to open the card first
• It is best to decide when the presents are to be opened (when the guest arrives, at a set time during the party or after the party) and explain that to your child before the party starts
• Send a thank you note to each guest