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How to plan a simple kids’ birthday party

As parents, we can feel a lot of pressure to host ever bigger and more spectacular birthday parties for our kids. But you don’t have to succumb to that pressure. Especially in the current social and economic climate, where many of us have enough to stress over without trying to keep up with our local answer to the Kardashians every time we plan a birthday party.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to take the pressure off is to keep things simple, and by simple, I mean pared back and easy to manage.

So let me share some ideas with you on how to throw a simple kids’ birthday party that will be brilliantly fun for the kids without it costing you a small fortune.

The added benefit of keeping things simple is that there is a lot less to get stressed about, so much so you can actually relax and enjoy the party yourself.

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How to keep kids’ parties simple – but fun!

8 Ways to keep your next kids’ party simple

Here are eight things you can cut back on or skip entirely when planning your child’s party. Leave these things off of your to-do list, and you will save yourself loads of time, effort and money.

1. A Crazy big guest list

This is YOUR CHILD’S PARTY. 

I know there is a lot of social pressure to invite the whole year or whole class from preschool or primary school, but you really don’t have to. 

Also, once your child starts school, it is totally ok just to invite school friends to their party. I don’t know many kids who enjoy going to a party where the only other child they know is the birthday boy or girl. 

Once your child is old enough, you can tell them how many kids they can invite and let them choose the guestlist.

Of course, the flip side of this is that your child will likely get missed off some party guest lists, but hey, that’s all part of the reality of life. Remind your child that they chose their guest list and not everyone can go to every party. 

2. Ditch paper invites

The way life works, everyone seems to WhatsApp or text a ‘save the date’ ahead of the paper invite anyway. 

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So why not just follow up with an invitation via WhatsApp or text with all the party details?

Paper invites can be lovely and are a tempting addition, but they are no longer a necessity. 

3. Anything over two hours

Three might have been the magic number for De La Soul, but two is the magic number for kids’ parties

That’s right, two hours. That’s all. 

Keep the plan for the party tight. 

Welcome the kids in, entertain them, feed them, and then lovingly wave them farewell. 

Job done. 

4. Meal times

Avoid meal times at all costs unless, of course, your child’s party is at a restaurant!

This way, you don’t need to be responsible for providing a whole room full of over-excited kids with lunch or supper. 

Go for a 10 am start – when their tummies are still full from breakfast.

Or go for a 3 pm start – when their tummies are still full from lunch. 

Go for these times, and all you need do is show willingness and provide some party snack food

5. A TikTok or Instagram-ready birthday cake

You really don’t need to spend hours crafting and creating a birthday cake unless baking is a total passion for you. 

Equally, you also don’t need to spend a fortune ordering a cake. 

Well, you can, but the reality is that the ‘ooing and ahhing’ from the guests lasts around a minute max before their attention is diverted by party activities. 

Then, of course, the thing gets cut and eaten. It can be heartbreaking to think about the cost per slice!

So, unless you are so hungry for an Instagram-perfect shot of your child blowing out their candles, keep the cake simple. 

Marks and Spencer and all the main supermarkets have perfectly decent birthday cakes. 

The Colin the Caterpillar cake is a modern classic! Colin is the OG, but dare I say it. There are others out there at Aldi and Tesco.

Of course, if you want to push the boat out, you can buy a giant personalised Colin the Caterpillar.

It won’t save you money, but it will save you time. This cake serves 40 people (or 20- people twice, just saying… !)

6. Professional entertainment

This can often be the most expensive element of the party. 

A professional entertainer can totally remove the pressure from you having the entertain the kids yourself. 

But you don’t have to have one. 

I’ve got a post that lists 30 children’s party games, which is one of the most popular posts on Mums Make Lists.

I’ve also put together a list of the best party games for indoor parties and for outdoor parties.

I put the post together when my daughter turned five, so that age group was my focus, but most of the games will work for all pre and primary school-aged children (2-11). 

Put together a plan of a handful of games to last around 45 minutes to 1 hour, and you’ll be set. 

7. Overstuffed party bags

One of the most popular posts on Mums Make Lists is the alternatives to kids’ party bags post. 

There’s a reason for that… there aren’t many parents who revel in the cost or creation of party bags

But it’s so easy to feel under pressure to dutifully prepare them and hand them out with a smile. 

I’ve noticed a trend away from party bags over the last couple of years, with some of the ideas listed in the alternative ideas post I mentioned above being party favour gifts. 

It’s also possible to keep the party bags super simple. 

There are even a couple of friends of ours who’ve gone one step further and not given any bags or gifts at all. Now that’s hardcore, but I have maximum respect for them. 

8. Present opening

Save opening presents until after the party is over – and until you are back home if the party is at a venue. 

Provide a table or a large bag for gifts to be put on or in as guests arrive. 

Aside from avoiding the mayhem of kids tearing into all the presents, you’ll also have time to make a note of all the gifts, so that thank you notes can be written. 

I really hope this list has given you some ideas for ways you can simplify the next party you’re planning for your child. 

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