Kids Birthday Parties 101: A Guide For Modern Parents
Children’s birthday parties can set the scene for some of our fondest memories when we’re younger. There’s something so exciting about being a kid, surrounded by all your friends as the centre of attention, with an afternoon full of treats, games and music in store.
For parents, it might seem like an entirely different story. Planning a party as an adult can be stressful enough as it is, but catering to the tastes of younger, more energetic guests who might be complete strangers may seem like an even trickier task. The good news is, it doesn’t take too much effort to create a memorable kid’s birthday party – nor does it need to be a heavy financial burden or cause of undue stress.
Read on for our comprehensive guide, walking you through how to host a party that will make your child’s birthday a memory they’ll never forget, and which will delight friends and family alike.
Speak with your child about party themes they may like for their birthday. For instance, if they’re animal lovers, you could do a jungle theme, or if they’re into a specific Marvel character you could plan the party around that film. Think about whether you want your guests to come in fancy dress, or will opt for a more general party dress code.
Once you’ve settled on what you want your party to be, send out those invitations! You can find birthday invitation templates online that are easy to adjust and fill out with all the important info, like the date, time and address of the party.
Make sure you communicate any other details too, such as if the party is going to take place outside, whether food will be provided, or if children will need to bring anything – like a swimming costume if there’s going to be pool access. Draw up a list of all the family and friends you’d like to attend, and provide a contact number so parents can RSVP or get in touch with you if they need to. And make sure you specify the pick-up time too, so you’re not left with 20 unclaimed kids at the end of the party!
Once you’ve worked out who’s going to be attending the party, you’ll need to take into account how much you’ll have to spend. Planning a party can get expensive very quickly, so budget for the basics first before going wild on decorations. You’ll probably need a selection of soft drinks, snacks or finger food, paper plates and cups, napkins and tablecloths – be prepared for it to get a little messy!
Then think about whether you’d like to give out prizes for party game winners, and if these will be tokens like sweets or stickers, or something with a slightly higher price point like a small toy or game. You’ll probably need to buy some craft materials if you’re going to make DIY games, and of course – don’t forget the cake!
You could consider hiring a venue to host your party where all the work is done for you, such as an ice skating park or bowling alley. They’re significantly easier to plan, but may be a little more expensive. Even if you’re not planning a full-scale venue transformation, it’s still a good idea to factor in some sort of decoration, for example bunting, balloons, or party hats, to create a celebratory atmosphere.
Fun & games
Depending on the age of your child, the friendship group may be happy to keep themselves entertained for the duration of the party. For younger age groups, all that excitement and stimulation may create a particularly lively atmosphere, and having some plan for the afternoon or evening may be a good idea. You can hire a party entertainer to take care of everything, but it’s still easy to come up with your own sequence of events at home.
Traditional party games for kids like pass the parcel and musical statues are classic choices, but you can also incorporate your theme and use your own creativity to develop team games that are related to it. You could do arts and crafts, treasure hunts, performances or picnics. Once the party is in full-swing, remember to enjoy it yourself! Take in the moment, capture some key memories with candid or group photos, and be on-hand where the children can see you in case they need help with anything.
End on a high
Once the main activity has taken place, or when everyone has come together at the end of a big game or bite to eat, now is a good time to dim the lights and bring out the birthday cake with its glowing candles. Be careful with open flames and excitable children, which is why we recommend having everyone sit down first.
At the end of the party, make sure your child thanks every guest for coming. A popular way of doing this is by gifting party bags – small bags of little presents, favours or offerings that show appreciation for that person’s attendance. These don’t have to be expensive, think of them more as a token of gratitude. It’s also a nice idea to have your child write thank you cards to their guests for any presents they received. If you’ve taken lots of photos of your child with their friends, share them around to relatives and parents.
Keep in mind that some of your guests may come from different backgrounds or financial situations, especially if you’re inviting your child’s school friends. Some families may not be able to afford big presents for your child, whilst others may come from large gift-giving cultures and gift something you deem to be far too over the top, or which makes you concerned about how to reciprocate when it’s their birthday.
Remember that there should be no expectation for what the parents of your kid’s friends may offer your child for their birthday. Some may have to pick their child up earlier than the finish time due to work commitments, or provide their child with separate food if they follow a different diet. Focus on being grateful for your child being surrounded by the people they love, and the presence of their friends showing up to celebrate their birthday.
See? Party planning for kids’ birthdays really doesn’t have to be all that difficult, once you know what you need to do. With a little glitter and the right attitude to make some mess and have some fun, your kids can have great parties year after year. Hopefully this guide has given you some inspiration on how you can pull the next (or first) one off, and help your child have the best birthday ever.