It feels like today’s kids birthday parties have become a competitive sport! Sadly this can add unnecessary pressure and cost to what should be a joyous day for everyone involved. The truth is, there are only a few important things that the birthday child really needs and actually remembers so my advice as always is: don’t sweat the small stuff!
Firstly, and within reason, involve your son or daughter in the creative preparation of the party. Ask what kind of theme they would like, the friends they’d like to invite, and the flavour of cake they want. Kids rarely get the chance to be involved in day-to-day decision-making so this is a good way to teach them about making choices for themselves.
From here on in, all it takes is a little preparation so stick to these KISS (Keep it Simple Silly) principles and it will be a day to remember for all.
Planning is key! Not only will it make room for any unsuspected tantrums but it also is the best way to stick to a budget. Leaving things to the last minute is the biggest reason parents end up spending too much money. By planning ahead, you will have time to find items on sales racks, complete DYI projects and, of course, enjoy the ride.
Now, not everything will go to plan but having a well placed schedule in place is important – just don’t forget a back-up plan for outdoor parties!
Decide on a suitable duration, which is usually between 1-3 hours and then set a time that is age-appropriate for the majority of the kids attending.
For kids under the age of six, a morning party is best. Not only will it give the kids time to get over their sugar high before their usual bedtime but also it means you can have some time to recover!
Usually when children get older, the parties get bigger, so an afternoon party will provide ample time in the morning to set everything up.
If you can’t decide on the number of guests, stick to a simple rule: Age of birthday child +1 = number of guests. So if your child is turning 10, allow them to invite 10 of their friends (not counting them!)
If you have a big family or if your child is a social butterfly, consider holding a party every alternate year. If you are on a really tight budget, put a note on the invitation that the party is drop-off only. This will eliminate lingering parents and siblings that also need to be fed and entertained.
Write up a rough schedule and give your party a structure. Here are some ideas:
- Allow 20 minutes for kids to run around and a grace period for guests to arrive
- Start playing 2-3 games – 15 mins
- Have a food and drink break – 10 mins
- Play another 2-3 games – 15 mins
- Put some music on and let the kids dance and use this time to set-up the cake – 10 mins
- Lead the kids on a conga line to the cake
- Cake time – 10 mins
- While presents are being opened, get party bags ready – 10 mins
- Parents arrive
If you simply don’t have the time to set-up or run the party, there are plenty of ways to outsource some or even all of the work.
There are some amazing speciality cake shops available online that deliver if you’re not partial to baking, and asking people to bring a small plate will make things a lot easier. However, if you really want to relax for once then let a professional entertainer and party planner do all the work for you.
The most important thing to remember is that this is supposed to be a fun day for you and your child – a day where memories are made and treasured forever. Do what you can, and accept all offers for help graciously!