Planning a children’s party is easy, compared to say planning a global military campaign, landing a robot on Mars or rewiring the entire Internet. The problem is though that at first glance it almost looks easy, and even fun.
Of course, it can be great fun, and many of the most fun aspects are also the easiest, such as choosing the theme, writing out the invites and cutting the cake. The trouble is though that throughout a children’s party there are sticky moments which can cause you a great deal of stress.
In today’s blog post we thought it would be helpful to highlight the top mistakes made in children’s parties, and offer help and advice on how to avoid them.
One of the first mistakes often made is to start the wrong way round. Beginning to plan a children’s birthday party by thinking about who they want to invite is often a dangerous way to begin. As the numbers keep on climbing, so does the eventual cost, and once your child has set their heart on having everyone they’ve mentioned, you’ll find it harder to work backwards from that point.
Instead, start with the budget, and work out your costs. Then decide how many people you can afford to invite, and give your child that number.
But a second mistake is to not have backups. Invariably there will be one or two children who can’t make it, so have a couple of backup children (but probably best not to tell them that they’re merely Reserve Friends). Don’t forget to buy extra party invitations for these children.
On the subject of invitations there are all manner of mistakes made. My child received an invitation recently to a friend’s party, and although it was all pre-printed and ‘professionally’ produced there was no space anywhere for the child’s name whose party it was! So we received the invitation, but had no idea whose party it was!
Remember that you need to include:
- your child’s name
- the name of the child being invited
- the date
- the time the party starts
- the estimated time the party ends
- the location of the party
- whether parents are welcome to/able to stay
- whether there are any special features such as fancy dress
- at least one way of replying, such as a phone number, mobile number for texts or an email address
That’s quite a lot of information, and it’s important to plan what you need to include, and where you’re going to include it.
A common mistake made by many of those planning parties either at home or somewhere such as a village hall is to think about the main sections of the party without thinking about the joins.
What do I mean by this? Simply that it’s not helpful to think of your child’s party as being “children arrive, play games, watch a magic show, eat, go home.” Whilst those different sections might be terrific, the problems occur in between each of those stages.
What do the children do during the initial period of waiting for everyone to arrive? That’s at least ten minutes of chaos. Then how do you transfer the children from bouncy games to sitting still watching a show? What happens when the entertainer has finished and you’re not quite ready for the children to sit down and start eating? And then finally what happens when the first few children have finished eating but the mums and dads aren’t arriving yet to take them off your hands?
Basically my advice is to think about what activities will be on offer for children in the gaps between the main sections of the party. Having some back up plans and activities is a great idea.
A mistake to avoid is to get the children into a super hyped up frenzy, and then try to get them to sit still and be quiet. Try to anticipate how you need the children to be, and steer them towards that whilst also letting them burn up their excited energy as much as possible.
So if you have a children’s entertainer arriving in half an hour, you could start off with some party games which are easy for just a few children to play, and easy for more children to join in with as they arrive. Then plan some really energetic games for everyone, before slowly calming the games down so that perhaps they’re playing something like Pass The Parcel or Sleeping Lions right before the entertainer arrives.
Another mistake to avoid is to forget about the children who are ‘out’ of a game. You could easily end up with a dozen highly excitable children with no interest in the game they are no longer involved with. That’s a recipe for disaster. Try to think of where they’ll go and what they can do, rather than leaving them to do their own thing too much.
Finally, think about the end of the party and the party bags. Two mistakes made here include waiting until the end of the party to cut up the cake, wrap it in napkins and place a slice in each party bag – try to give yourself plenty of time to do this before the very end of the party.
The other problem is trying to work out who has got a party bag and who hasn’t. A great tip here is to write each child’s name on their party bag. Some children’s party bags actually have spaces specifically for this. This means that when it comes to handing out the bags at the end you can be absolutely sure who has got one and who hasn’t. It’s also helpful to have named bags so that children who earn prizes can have these safely popped in their bag ready for the end of the party.