We all have fond memories of birthdays, parties and celebrations as children. Naturally as parents we want our children to grow up with wonderful, happy memories too. We want them to enjoy the build up, anticipation and preparation of the upcoming event, but that doesn't mean we have to remortgage the house and frazzle our nerves over it!
I remember so many snippets of parties I had or attended as a child, and I know these days parties are bigger and more materialistic, but honestly what is really wrong with party games, balloons, a homemade cake and jelly and ice cream??!! (In fact this is exactly what we did for my sister's 30th! And we made our own balloon animals and hats!)
Planning your child's party doesn't need to be stressful-include the child, talk to them about what they want and out of that find a realistic compromise!
Things you will need to remember or think about when planning are:
Invites - don't forget to include-date, time, venue, rsvp details and date, age of child and if food is going to be served such as lunch, tea or snacks, do parents need to stay for the duration of the party-why not try making them yourself and with your child's help and input. Send invites out 3-4 weeks before the party (any earlier people will forget and any closer to the day and people may already be booked up)
Who to invite - this is your personal preference, there are no set rules, don't invite a whole class and leave out a couple, you could have the rule of inviting invite 4 for 4 yr olds, 6 for 6 yr old etc. If you can't or don't want to invite the whole class you could take in cupcakes for everyone so that you are not discounting them totally. Think about having a separate family gathering at a different time.
Setting the Scene - you may decide (or your child may!) that there is going to be a theme for their party. This could be a favourite character or colour or something else they enjoy. Pirates and princesses, everyone one come dressed to impress, all guests have to wear blue etc... if you are going to have a theme, make it fun and involve it in all aspects of the planning-the invites, food, decorations etc. You could even personalise the party bags-get your child to decorate paper bags for each guest, fill beach buckets if you are having a beach party-you can get these quite cheaply from some shops. You could even put the goodies in a cup or pencil case, so the packaging is a gift in itself!
Venue - so you have a guest list and theme, now you have to decide where to hold this shindig! This may well depend on the amount of people you have invites and the size of your house (also whether you want that many children running riot in your own lounge!) For Summer birthdays parties outside are great! Whether it's the beach, garden or a park, home, church hall or make sure you have certain things to hand-wipes, bin bags and a camera are essentials. Other ideas for parties include bowling, crazy golf, go karting, 'dinner party', picnic, trampolining, gym companies offer packages, as do soft play centres usually, swimming (make sure it is well supervised!)
Chase up RSVP's - a couple of weeks before the party try to chase up anyone who has not replied so that you have a really good idea of numbers. Keep some Extra goody bags and prizes to hand in case some guests bring siblings or some turn up who have not RSVP'd, Expect unexpected guests-siblings or someone who hasn't RSVP'd!
Say yes to help! - It sounds so simple doesn't it? But so many of us like to do things our way and take control of everything! If somebody offers to help you in the planning or preparation or on the day then say yes! You could ask them to set the table, put the picnic out or even be the photographer. Remember it's your child's birthday so you need to enjoy it too!
Food - if you are providing food make sure you have a good variety. The usual crisps, sandwiches, cakes and biscuits can be joined by a cheese and pineapple hedgehog, salad bites and fruits bites. Don't forget to cater for vegetarians if there are any attending. If you are having a birthday cake think about letting your child help decorate it if you are being brave and attempting it yourself! Don't forget the jelly and ice cream-a hit with all-old and young!
Hiring an Entertainer - Entertainers can be great for parties, but you will need to think about a few things first-the cost, the age of children you want to entertain, the amount of children and the space available. To keep costs down why not hire a costume of your child's favourite character or superhero and ask a friend or family member to dress up for some of the party.
Presents - parties usually mean presents. This is lovely but brings another question to mind-do I let my child open the presents at the party or do it afterwards when everyone else has gone home. If you are going to be opening the presents at the party try and do it after food, getting everyone to sit down (remember to have a pen and paper to make a list of who gave what for thank you cards to be written) Be aware that this could cause issues if your child doesn't like a present or if one child couldn't afford to buy a present. If you plan on opening the presents after the chaos has been cleared away explain this to the guests, again write a list for thank you cards-this is definitely a calmer solution!
Consider a Joint party - just think you can split the planning, preparation and costs!
Making memories is an important part of family life, make sure every birthday is special...but don't confuse special with expensive!
Ria has 2 girls and previously worked in nurseries for over 15 years and left managing a day nursery when her eldest was born. She now works for Raring2go! as our Digital Content and Strategy Manager
If you are interested in writing for Raring2go! or featuring on our site please email Ria.