Parties for kids have come a long way in recent times with more options, more expectations and more expense placed on an annual event that runs approx. two-three hours. Working in the children’s party industry for over fifteen years, I’ve seen every type of party from the informal backyard gathering to a virtual carnival with everything imaginable hired.
However, a child’s party doesn’t need an event planner or a big budget to be a success. I have some sure-fire pointers to get the party started and the kids really enjoying themselves.
1. Stick with the familiar. Children enjoy it when predictable elements are present, and if they are overlooked, it won’t go unnoticed! Definites 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 entertainer or activity or have it somewhere that will entertain the kids for you. The Golden Rule is: DON’T OVER-DO IT!
Just one or two entertainment events are more than enough. Remember, children will be commanded to eat now, cut the cake now, watch the gifts being opened now, etc etc.. When you throw in entertainers, activities and games, children can easily become overwhelmed, and the party whizzes by without the kids having time to actually play with abandonment.
3. Play time: This element should be the number one party essential. Factoring time for the kids to run about, play, laugh and talk with one another is golden. It suits children of all ages and capabilities, and what’s more , it’s free!
4. Age-appropriate entertainment. This directive may seem like a no-brainer, however I have attended many parties that result in children being 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 just a few bowls, the excitement had seriously worn off. And even Pass-the-Parcel can cause distress when played with children who are too young to realise they haven’t missed out, they just have to wait their turn. If you are hosting a party with mixed ages and genders, there’s a broad range of entertainment that will appeal, such as jumping castles and balloon-twisting.
5. Relax! When planning a party, listen to your child and use your instincts – you know what they will enjoy most. On the day have a mini paper list so that you don’t forget anything, like when to put the party pies in the oven or to hand out the party bags.
And lastly, enjoy YOURSELF too…after all -it’s a party!
Best of luck!