One birthday party sticks out more then others. I still remember the location (someone’s backyard) the games (bobbing for apples, pinning the tail on the donkey, cat and mouse, musical chairs) and the food (toffee apples and marshmallows ). The mum who organized this birthday party got the mix right…after-all, 26 years later I still smile when thinking about the fun I had.
There are a few key tips to running a successful party, income, lifestyle and location really have nothing to do with it, kids just want to have fun.
1. Help your child think of a theme. Plan the activities and games around that theme. Make or buy invitations and decorations to match the theme. Make sure your child is involved in selecting activities but keep some things a surprise so they can enjoy the excitement of the day too. The unknown leads to anticipation and suspense. All of the kids will be so excited before the party date even comes! Great children’s party themes include:- Dress Ups - superheros, tv characters, sports stars, choose a letter of the alphabet (A = Apple, Aladdin, Angel, Alien etc). Other theme ideas could be Magic, Toy Story, Peppa Pig, Trucks, Fairies, Lego, La La Loopsy, Clowns, Circus or Carnival, Dinosaurs, Jungle Animals, Sport (soccer, football, basketball), Pool Party, Pirates, PJs, Hawaiian, Australiana, Sombrero, Beach Party, Alice in Wonderland, Masquerade, Hollywood, Country and Western.
2. If you are looking at hiring an entertainer for your child’s party, book early! Face painters, clowns and jumping castles book out very quickly so as soon as you set the date, start making the bookings.
3. Invitations should be very clear detailing start and end times (two to three hours at the most) and what the child needs to bring. (Parties at the water will require a swimmers, towel, sunscreen and hat for example). Follow-up after the invitations are sent. Again, depending on the age of the children, parents may never see the invitation. A phone call, email or a quick text to the parents just to make sure they saw the invite will be fine.
4. Fun games and activities are the backbone to a good party turning into a great party. There are countless websites with suggestions for great party game ideas. One game that can suit most age groups are treasure hunts. They can be done anywhere and for any age level. You can play indoors or out, in a pool or at the beach. You can fit this into pretty much any theme too. Other party game ideas include:- Freeze, musical cushions, pin the tail on the donkey/clown (change to suit your theme), Balloon pass (like pass the parcel but put a small prize inside a balloon, pop the balloon when you get it), jelly eating competition, hot potato, sack races, tug of war, dancing competition, kids charades or pictionary, duck duck goose, water balloons or pistols, slip n slide, thong throw, donut eating competition (hang from clothes line and keep hands behind back).
5. Ask your child what food they would like at their party. Select food that’s easy to prepare and serve and doesn’t make too much mess. Have a platter of fruit and vegetables prepared as finger food. Club sandwiches, home-made or store-bought sausage rolls and mini quiches are great filling foods and easy for little hands to hold. Have some fun foods too like Jelly boats, Nutella fairy bread, or themed cupcakes. Make sure you ask about any dietary requirements on your invitations and cater for everyone.
6. Once all the guests have arrived explain what will happen during the party. Kids like to know when things will be happening. Explain when games will be played, when food will be served, when the cake will be cut and when presents will be opened. Make sure you allow plenty of time for free-play too.
7. When opening the presents be sure you record who gave what so you can send them a personalised thank you card following the party.
8. If you are giving out goody bags make sure there is enough for every child and think about siblings not invited to the party too. Goody bags dont have to be filled with candy, chocolates or toys. Great goody bag ideas include: crayons and pencils, play dough, water balloons, small instruments, juggling balls, lip balm, homemade cookies, dress up mask, popcorn, stickers, necklaces, mini notebook.A successful party will be talked about for years to come. We had parties like this for our birthdays, Mum never put a lot of money into them, but we always had a great time.
Are you planning a birthday party for your kids? Share your tips by commenting below.