These tips for planning kids parties have been learnt the hard way!
I have the scars on my back to prove it ;-)
I honestly believe kids parties are up there with moving house for stress ... the constant negotiation, ever escalating costs and deep down fear you'll fall flat on your face ... eek!
The trick at kids parties is definitely to keep them simple ... hmmm, much easier said than done ... whilst being uber organised about the little things that can send you into a tail spin.
So here are my tips for organising your kids party as simply as possible without going completely nuts in the process ...
P.S. If there's radio silence here for the rest of the week, it's because I've got twenty small princesses and pirates to entertain in our church hall on Saturday .... yikes!!
Stick to budget
I know this is obvious but it's so easy for costs to get out of hand! Work out max can afford and stick to it. Do your homework on party planning sites like Shindigz who have great value basics.
Allow for naps
In deciding time allow for some 2 and 3 year olds still having naps
Sunday parties give more time to prepare, Saturday parties to clear-up
Morning parties can be great
Parties were always 3pm in my childhood but I am a big convert to 11am. Children
less likely to be frazzled & more likely to be hungry
Avoid public holidays
Lots of families will be away on public holidays or have other plans
Avoid special days
Families may have other plans on e.g. Mother’s Day
Make sure venue is really practical!
Check out parking, toilet facilities, space for buggies, safety, whether you can prepare food, how long in advance you can get in
Book venues early
Both activity venues (soft play, swimming etc) and spare rooms in church halls & rooms in social clubs & pubs etc book up early
Keep it small
Much, much easier said than done but do try and keep as small as possibly can
Allow for parents in numbers
Most 3 and 4 year olds will want a parent to stay - allow for parents in working out if you have enough room
Allow for babies in numbers
If mums are staying there is a good chance that small babies will stay as well and you need to allow for them in space, numbers & organisation
Be realistic about space
You need space for: games & activities; food; children needing quiet time; parents to stand/sit and chatter so not taking up all the games space
Do chase RSVPs
Don’t be embarrassed about chasing RSVPs everyone is so busy these days and invitations via nursery & school easily get lost in bags
Get family to help
Bookup grandparents, aunties, uncles to help with food prep, decorations, greeting people, sorting coats, running games, loo trips, clearing up etc
Remember children have their own friends!
By 3 most children will start to make their own friends particularly at nursery & playgroup they may be playing a lot with children you don’t really know in addition to the usual suspects whose children you know well
Backup invites with emails & texts
Backup paper invite with emails, texts, Facebook to increase chance mums known it’s happening, get it in diary & don’t forget details
Ask for phone nos of parents who aren't staying
If parents not staying make sure have emergency phone number for them
Leave yourself as little time as possible!!!
Party planning brings out the worst in most of us ... we end up spending hours fussing over details, incapable of making a decision. Leaving it to the last minute so you've just got to decide can be less stressful.
It's not the cheapest option but if your short on time sites like Birthday in a Box let you order a complete kit of everything you need for princess, pirate and just about everything else parties.
Party Decorations & Space
Test your balloons
Do test out your balloons / gas / pump in advance so can do something about it if you have
somehow got duff supplies
Buy more gas than you think you need
Most helium gas canisters totally over estimate how many balloons you can get out of them
Don’t blow up balloons too far in advance
Balloons do deflate a bit erratically so only blow up an hour or so in advance
Offer party theme options you can actually deliver on
Under no circumstances ask your child "what theme would you like?" ... they will come up with something totally outlandish you can't possibly deliver on and then be disappointed.
Check out party sites e.g. Birthday in a Box, Beau-coup, Shindigz and Birthday Express and give them options that actually exist on this planet!
But remember themes aren’t very reusable
Party themes maybe incredibly popular but it means you’ll get almost no reuse out of any decorations you buy whilst coloured decorations with a themed cake and a few themed add ons can be mixed and matched year after year
Move all breakables out of the room or onto a high shelf
Create coat space
Clear a cupboard or big space somewhere where all the coasts can go
Sign up someone for coat duty
Sign up a relation grandpa, elder siblings for doing coat duty so you’re not trying to put these
away / find them whilst juggling everything else
Create a quiet space
Create a quiet space e.g. a bedroom with some toys and books where children who are feeling
frazzled can get away from the noise
Create an “accident” station
Create a small area which has everything you need for sick, wee, poo, food, drink spillage accidents e.g. kitchen roll, anti-bacterial spray, bin bags, roll of cleaning cloths, baking soda / bicarb of soda
Have First Aid kit to hand
Make sure First Aid Kit is up to date and is out and visibly to hand for all adults not just yourself
Create a toilet station
Allow for children at different stages of potty training / toilet use and provide potty / loo seat /
wipes / nappy bags plus kitchen roll, cleaning cloths and antibac spray so accidents can be easily cleaned up
Have spare clothes available
Have a smart change of clothes that your child or another child will find acceptable in case of dire accident
Store toys away
Unless you are going to be having free play with any toys store everything away so they can’t get broken, trodden on, distract from games. Can put some in a quiet space for babies or children who need some quiet time
Move furniture out of way
Create as much space as you possibly can for dancing, skipping, hopping and jumping by clearing as much furniture as you can out of the way.
Cartons spill less than cups!
Cartons of juice will involve a lot less spillage than open cups
Cups are good for jelly & ice cream
Paper or plastic cups are great for small helpings of jelly & ice cream and seem to involve less
disaster than bowls
Avoid anything crockery or serving stuff of any kind that is breakable
Except for jelly and ice cream this is one time when fingers rock!
Check for allergies
On the invitations do ask people to let you know in advance about any allergies, special requirements or extreme fussiness!
Most children don’t like jelly AND ice cream
So you don’t have to waste time responding to specific orders serve out 75% as just ice cream
helpings and 25% as just jelly helpings and then top up with the other as necessary
Your freezer is your friend!
Buy or make as much as you can in advance and whack it in the freezer
Sandwiches are too much fiddle!
Sandwiches are too much fiddle to make and rarely get eaten pizza, sausages or sausage rolls or chicken fingers / sticks much bigger hits
Small serving bowls better
If you’ve got more than a few children better to have small serving bowls / plates that can be shared by 3 or 4 children so they are not all stretching across the table picnic cloth the whole time
ALL children love decorating fairy / cup cakes
You can totally silence a room by giving under5s the chance to decorate simple fairy / cupcakes iced with butter cream ... jelly tots, chocolate buttons and lurid sugar full sprinkles of all sorts go down a treat!
You win points with veg & fruit but it's a faff!
OK most of the children won’t touch but some will eat carrot or cucumber sticks and handfuls of blueberries & you’ll win points for trying ;) But your sanity may not be up to the chopping!
Create adult drink station
Create a drinks area so adults can make themselves coffee, tea, juice, water etc without you having to bother serving them
Make more icing ... much more icing ... than you could possibly need
Much better to have too much than too little that won’t cover everything
Get icing butter nice and soft before you start
If you don’t have luxury of a mixer get your butter nice and soft out of the fridge before you start
trying to mix in icing sugar
More children like apple than orange juice
More under fives seem to prefer apple juice than orange juice
Book entertainer early
Good entertainers book up incredibly early so unless you’ve got organised to get someone highly recommended may be better not to bother
Book equipment early
If you want to push out the boat have bubble machines, disco, bouncy castle etc you will need to book early DON’T promise anything until it’s confirmed!
Open gifts after party over
Better to open gifts after party as not much fun for anyone else. Need to make sure that your child understands this clearly
Create gift box
Have a big empty box or basket that all presents can be put in for opening later
Most small children will do almost anything for stickers so for lots of games e.g. musical bumps, statues, sleeping lions don’t need prizes
Don’t need prizes for everything
Really only need prizes for a few games e.g. Pass the Parcel stickers for doing well / being funny / being last a great alternative
Be a pass the parcel scrooge at your peril
Although most of us were used to just one prize in pass the parcel, current generation TOTALLY expect a little prize in each layer and that everyone gets one. Expect mutiny if you try to buck the trend!
Masks & puppets are fun
Children love masks & puppets & working them into games e.g. printed off wolf mask for What’s the time Mr Wolf can really capture children’s imagination and decorating their own can be a great party craft activity
Create a game box
Collect everything you need for all the games props, prizes etc and put them in a basket or box that is well out of reach of little hands!
Rope in big siblings as assistants
Big siblings are great at keeping games in order & doling out stickers
Keep balloons on ceiling until end
Make the ribbons short enough that the children can’t reach them so that they don’t all get burst in advance of going home time
Have a backup games “Master”
Need someone else who can run the games if your child is in complete meltdown and really needs your attention a simple game sheet in the game box will help
Have rubbish bag for Pass the Parcel
Have a rubbish / trash bag handy for instantly clearing Pass the Parcel paper out of the way
Have 2 rounds of pass parcel
If there’s more than 8 children can split pass the parcel into 2 circles so they don’t get bored with a really big circle of children
Have baskets of toys for free play for younger kids
Baskets of musical instruments and bricks are really good for free play for younger children
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