While birthday parties are a great boost to your child’s self-confidence, they often spell chaos for the parents. Long gone are the days when a cake, some balloons and a few games were enough. Children’s parties have become elaborate with many things to consider.
Have you chosen a theme? Where will you have it? What if some of the kids have food allergies? Not to mention the decorations and the entertainment.
Though it seems that your plans can become overwhelming very quickly, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Here’s how to plan a day that both you and your child can remember fondly for years to come.
Deciding on a theme
When it comes to planning the event theme, first consider the age of your child. If your child is under 4 years old, feel free to choose the theme yourself. Any older, however, be sure to include your child in the decision-making process.
It is between the ages of four and five that children begin to invent complex and dramatic make-believe scenarios. They can build upon other children’s play themes and better understand story lines and overall themes.
It is likely that at this age they have already developed strong preferences for particular story or cartoon characters and may already have their heart set on an idea. Be sure to encourage their ideas.
Location, location, location
The location of your party will have wildly different impacts on the planning of your day.
Home parties are generally less expensive than hired venues. You are free to hold the party at whatever time suits your family and guests and there are no tears when it comes time to take your child home.
Venues, on the other hand, can be exciting and make your job a lot easier. When planning the location, be sure to also consider the amount of organising that will fall to you.
Let them eat cake and…
The food you offer your party guests will depend on what time you actually decide to hold the party. If you have the party after lunch and before dinner, you may get away with a few lights snacks and birthday cake.
However, If you want to serve a small meal, make sure you keep the party food offerings simple.
Familiar snacks like pizza or sandwiches work well with picky eaters and can be turned into special party food with a few small changes. Star-shaped sandwiches or heart-shaped pizza work well and are easy to create with cookie cutters.
Be sure you know about any food allergies in advance. This can be managed by including a section on the party invitation for parents to complete if there is anything you need to be made aware of.
These days, it is always best to avoid anything with nuts (including peanut butter sandwiches) because so many children are allergic.
Bring in a buddy
No matter how organised you are on the day, you are going to need an adult offsider, be it a spouse, a relative, friend or professional kids party organiser. Going it alone limits you greatly as you work to manage the food, the activities, supervise and deal with any tantrums. Having an adult there to help means any upset children can be taken aside to be cared for while the party continues. This way you’ll also have a set of eyes on the kids while you prepare food, set up the cake and organise activities throughout the day.
Expect the Unexpected
The hardest thing to plan for at any children’s birthday party is the little unexpected mishaps that pop up. Here's what you can do to keep chaos at bay:
- Be prepared for any meltdowns.
- Your adult helper can take a distraught child aside while the rest of the group continues celebrating.
- Stock band-aids, ice, tissues and cleaning cloths for any spills or accidents.
- If parents are dropping off children, be sure you know about any food allergies or relevant medical conditions. But you would preferably have this information in advance. If you have pets, it's best to keep them separate from the guests. Some children are allergic to or afraid of even the most gentle animals. Similarly, many pets may react badly to little ones pulling tails or stepping on paws.