Planning a Successful Birthday Party for Your Child

By: Nishik

Children's birthday parties can be very tiring, both to organise, and to run. Expectations are always high. You want the day to go well and without a hitch, whilst your child wants to have the best fun possible. Unfortunately, all too often circumstances often dictate that if something can go wrong it will. Add to that that the children are hyped-up, and by the end of the day are frequently very tired, and you can see that it is worth taking a little time to try and prevent it all going pear-shaped.

If you start with the objective of trying to achieve a smooth flow throughout the day, then you can see that planning is really going to be your saviour. Planning will allow you to feel happy that you haven't forgotten anything. Planning will ensure that all the jobs need to do get done. Planning should make sure you have sufficient lead time to order goods and have them delivered. Planning really is key!! At the most basic level, you should make a list of the things you need to do and buy so that you don't forget anything. But remember, the more you plan, the less chance you have it going wrong on you.

Don't forget though, that as much as you want the guests to enjoy themselves, to get the best out of the day, you need to enjoy it yourself as well. If you're tired and stressed you won't be happy, and the children will soon pick up on it.

The first thing to do is find out what theme your child would like. I have heard of a party organised around a certain theme, only to find out that the cartoon character their child was mad about for the last 6 months was no longer their favourite!!, Do ask your child, and get them involved in the planning if you think it.

The Venue

Deciding where to hold the party is usually quite easy. If you've got the space you can of course hold it at your home. If you can afford it, you can pay to hire somewhere. Other options are in a park or outdoor space.

Outdoors

* How safe is it?

* Distance. Can you easily transport everything?

*Fall back plan if the weather turns bad

Indoors

* Which area will be used and is it suitable

* Keep some rooms closed so that you know where all the guests are and can keep an eye on them

* Remove any ornaments

Timing

Young children need their sleep, so plan it around likely sleep patterns. Lunchtime parties allow you to have some fun, feed them and then either say goodbye to them, or give them a quick nap. For school age children, a weekday after school can work well as it allows you to say goodbye to them with the excuse of it being a school day tomorrow. Don't forget, you will need to allow time to clear up afterwards.

When to finish

The best advice here is less is more. You don't want to allow the party to run on too long. The downsides can be many. Tired children, tears, over-excitement, and sickness to name but a few. Make sure everyone knows when the party will end, so that they are there promptly to pick up their children.

The younger children up to 4 years will often have had enough after only a couple of hours. It is a good idea to try to get the children's mothers to attend with this age group as toddlers are much more labour intensive. It also makes you life much easier

For older age groups, you can extend it to 3 or 4 hours, but really unless you've planned a full day with an excursion, you should be definite about keeping it shorter...

Guest Numbers

With younger children, keep the numbers down. Not only do they require more supervision, but some children get upset with too many new faces. Older children are less of a problem, indeed quite often bigger groups almost run themselves, but it takes a brave parent to try it. Either way, make sure you have enough help to run it

If your child is at school, you will need to be sensitive to the fact that class mates need to be invited even if they aren't 'best friends'. If you don't invite someone, be discrete about it.

With sleep over parties, numbers should be kept down, impose strict deadlines on the guests unless you want to be up half of the night.

It is all too easy to let your wish to have the biggest and best party, run roughshod over the cost. Parties can be expensive, but the cost can be kept down by careful purchasing, good planning, and doing some of the work your self.

* Home cook the food

* Use your own home or garden.

* Make your own party games.

Birthday Party Themes

There are any number of themes to choose from. If your child is old enough, no doubt they will make their feelings known on the subject. If not, you can choose a particular colour or perhaps flowers or horses or some other general theme.

Invitations

Give yourself plenty of time to get these sent out. It is surprising how far ahead other people will be booked up, and you don't want your child's best friend to be missing or you really will start out with an uphill battle to make it a success. It's usually worth taking the time to send invitations as then you are more sure of how many will be coming, and what numbers to cater for. Post them at least a month ahead.

Decorations

You can really go to town with decorations. Decking the house out really sets the tone for the party and kids really love it. It's one way to make your party stand out. At the least you will want balloons and streamers which are really inexpensive. If the budget will stand it, you can splash out on scene setters which cover the whole wall, and they're available in lots of themes.

Again, if you can afford it, decorate as many rooms as you can as it gives the whole party a lift. You can buy party banners for putting on doors, especially the front door. Your entrance is very important, and will help your guests find you

One Day Before

Your day will go much more easily if you get as much as you can finish before the event. This will lessen the pressure on you during the party and allow you to enjoy it more. Food is usually fairly easy to prepare and refrigerate or freeze. A better way is to share out some of the work among the other parents if you can persuade them to do it.

Party Day

By now it usually too late to do anything other than welcome the gusts and start the hard work. The emphasis on the day moves from planning to organising and managing. Keep control of the party or it will control you!! This means being firm with your guests, making sure they behave, letting them know what you are going to do and also what is expected of them. If bad behaviour starts, nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. It rarely needs more than a firm word to sort things out.

Photos will give you and your family something to remember the day with. If you have family members who can't make it, then you can send them a photo or two. Polaroid cameras used to be good fun because you could show everyone the photos before they went home. These days digital cameras fulfil the same function. If you haven't got one, you should be able to borrow one, or ask one of the guests to do it all for you.

Safety

Safety comes first when holding a party. Make sure you have a well stocked first aid cabinet. Excitable groups of children running around means that there is always the possibility of a minor accident, or even a major one. So be prepared.

You are responsible for the safety of the children in your care. Make sure you have the contact numbers of all the parents just in case you need to call them, if only to get them picked up early if all else fails.

Entertainers

Party entertainers are few in number and consequently get booked up well in advance. Book early!! The good thing is there are lots of different entertainers these days so you're not stuck with a clown or magician. Now you can get jugglers, face painters, activity organisers and a whole host of others.

Bouncy Castles

These can be great fun if you can squeeze one in to your garden. Make sure it has suitable to be used in the rain.

Lately there has been a case of a guest successfully suing the party organiser after an accident on a bouncy castle. Make sure you have adequate supervision if you hire one of these.

Presents

These days, everyone expects to go home with something, but that doesn't mean you they have to be expensive. A piece of cake, a few balloons and some small toys is often enough. Remember, the fun in a party is in the games they play and the fun they have whilst they are at the party. The presents are something they take home at the end of it.

Planning the party games can save you some money. Pass the parcel is easy, but takes time to wrap up the gift in all those layers of paper. Treasure hunts are great, but take time to set up

Make sure you have some sweets, but don't overdo it. To many sweets means you run the risk of sick children!! Any you have left over can be divided up at the end for them to take home. They don't have to cost a lot, opt for small chews and sweets as it makes them go a lot further and small kids love them. Also, chocolate bars tend to melt and make a mess.



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