Outside of health scares and accidents, for some parents the most stressful part of raising kids is organising birthday parties. It used to be that a birthday party consisted of a few friends, a piñata, a donkey with no tail, and some party hats. Boom. Done. Now, however, kids birthday parties seem to be getting increasingly elaborate and expensive – and they take a lot more time to organise.
Here are some tips to help you plan a great birthday party without the stress on the big day.
Don’t leave anything to the last minute. Make sure you know at least a couple of months ahead of time what type of theme you want for the party, how many kids, and what types of food you want to serve.
Get your child involved in the planning as well. That way you’ll know that you’re doing what they want, and there won’t be any surprises for them on the big day (unless of course the party itself is a surprise!). Also, make sure you have every minute of the party planned out, especially for younger children. From the moment they arrive, have a schedule of activities to keep things on track and to make sure that nothing gets forgotten or missed.
Finalise the guest list early, and keep track of everyone you’ve invited and what their response was. Invitations should be sent out around six weeks beforehand. This gives plenty of time for putting it in a crowded schedule, but not so long that it gets forgotten by parents who may not be great at scheduling!
There are several rules of thumb for the size of the guest list, but generally the size of the guest list should be based on what you think you can handle. If your child is in lots of activities and has lots of friends, you may have to make some difficult decisions as to who can be included. Always make sure you hold the party on a day that their best friend can come. No matter how the party goes, your little one will be assured of having fun if their beastie is around.
What day of the week would you like to hold it? What time of day? These are important questions to ask yourself when planning activities. If you’re planning on serving a meal, then the party should be during meal times, so that other parents don’t have trouble planning their own day.
For younger kid weekends are usually better, as it can be a long day for them to go from school to partying. As kids get older, you can try Friday evening parties.
Food for a kid’s party should be kept simple – there’s no need to experiment. Pizza and cake are great, standard options that can be served with no fear of a revolt. If you don’t want to do pizza, then stick with simple things that can be warmed up and served quickly without too much effort. You don’t want to be spending the whole time in the kitchen and missing out on your child’s party.
If you have a theme, it’s not necessary to try to have the food match the theme unless it’s a common food and simple to serve. Decorative plates and table settings will do the trick.
Always be sure to know about any food allergies ahead of time so you can serve safe foods for everyone. You can include a question about food sensitivities on the invitation.
Nowadays there are plenty of venue options for holding your child’s birthday party, such as at home or somewhere else. The benefits of holding it somewhere outside of your home are that a lot of the work is done for you. There’s no cleaning before or after, and the activities are already taken care of for you. Kids can go bowling, swimming, to the movies, or even to a park.
If you hold it at home, you can customize the size of your party since many venues have a minimum and maximum, and you can decorate as you wish. While you may have to do a bit more planning for activities, if you already have something at home for entertainment you’re well on your way to a great party. A trampoline, for instance, can keep kids entertained for hours while still giving them exercise to work off some of the pizza and cake!
So go ahead, say ‘yes’ when your child asks if they can have a birthday party next time. Just follow these tips and you’ll be sure to pull off a great party for your child and their guests.