Parties for children have come a long way in the last decade due to more options, more expense and more expectation placed on an annual event that runs for only 2-3 hours. Involved in the kids party industry for over 15 years, I have seen every type of party from the informal backyard gathering to a virtual carnival with everything imaginable hired.
However, a kid’s party doesn’t need an event planner or a big budget to be wonderful. I have some great pointers to get the party started and the kids really enjoying themselves.
1. Stick with the familiar. Kids feel comfortable when predictable elements occur, and if they’re overlooked, it will not go unnoticed! Must-haves are: Food, birthday cake, and the all important Party Bag! If you provide these three things, you have the basics of party.
2. Things for the kids to do. There are innumerable options: Party games; hire an activity or entertainer or have it somewhere that will entertain the kids for you. Rule of thumb: DON’T OVER-DO IT!
One or two structured games are more than enough. The fact is, children will be expected to eat now, cut the cake now, watch the gifts being opened now, etc etc.. If you throw in entertainers, activities and games, children may quickly become overwhelmed, plus time whizzes by without the children having a chance to actually play with abandonment.
3. Play time: This element should be the number one party essential. Time for children to play, run around, talk and laugh with one another is golden. It suits children of all ages and capabilities, and -, it’s free!
4. Age-appropriate entertainment. This suggestion may seem like a no-brainer, but many parties can have children feeling bored or bewildered. For example, hiring a magician-clown for two-year olds left most of the children terrified. Another example is a bowling party for four-year olds. The children had no interest in being competitive and after several bowls, the novelty had absolutely worn off. Even Pass-the-Parcel can cause distress when played with kiddies who are too young to realise they haven’t missed out, they just have to wait their turn. When you are putting on a party for mixed ages and genders, there is a broad range of entertainment that appeals, such as jumping castles, face painting and balloon-twisting.
5. Try to Relax! When planning your party, plan with your child and use your instincts – you know what they’ll enjoy most. On the day have a mini run-sheet so that you don’t forget anything, like when to get the party pies in the oven or to hand out the party bags.
And lastly, enjoy YOURSELF too…after all -it’s a party!
All the best!