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How to plan a children’s birthday party

Calling all parents and guardians! Do you have a child whose birthday is coming up? Perhaps you’ve attempted to host a party in the past and it not turn out as planned?

These days, pinning the tail on a donkey and a few jam sandwiches just won’t cut it. This week we’ve got the 101 on planning a child’s party, so sit tight and prepare to be given a stress-free, budget-friendly breakdown on what you need to do and when!

Money, money, money

Your child’s happiness is the priority when it comes to planning their birthday party, but not at the expense of your financial wellbeing.

It’s time to put the pony-blinkers on when it comes to parental one-upmanship; plan within your means. By maintaining control over the costs, you can have a great day without the impending dread of a worrisome credit card bill.

Make a list of the things you need to pay for: venue hire, catering, the birthday cake, entertainment, decorations and party bags etc. and tick things off as they’re paid for.

The logistics

Your budget will dictate much of this, but parties are all a question of scale.

How many guests would you like? Can you find a venue to accommodate them? Whether looking for an afternoon of fun for a small group of friends or the whole class party, there should be somewhere in your local area to host the party – Mumsnet and parenting groups on Facebook are great resources.

Also, you might be the chief party planner, but to avoid totally losing your marbles, you must delegate! Parties often mean lots of tidying up during and afterwards, so recruit family and friends, and even other parents to help with planning and keeping order on the day.

Dream up a theme

Having a theme is a really nifty hack; it will help you decide what decorations you need, what activities you can adapt and what entertainment is needed. You can create a fantastic party around princesses or pirates, superheroes or animals, beloved books or music stars. Pinterest is an amazing starting point for looking for inspiration; create some pin boards to keep your imagination in check; there’s a lot of creative people out there!

Themes can also be dictated by the nature of the party; why not think outside the box and organise a party at a roller disco, a climbing wall or a crafts café?

Bouncy castles, donkey rides, costumed entertainers, bubble machines… there are so many options for a fantastic party, but try to keep some perspective on cost. Party games will always be a hit, and there are loads of ideas here.

Try to bear in mind the fact that your child’s peers may not come from families able to fund an elaborate costume or participation in expensive activities, especially when considering how many of these parties as parents we’re compelled to attend with our kids each year!

Some mean eats

Catering for a kids’ party isn’t rocket science, but it is essential. It’s just about keeping hungry tummies full! Consider your child’s age group. Little hands are perfect for cocktail sausages and dainty sandwiches, but tweens might prefer pizza, dough balls and chicken fajita wraps. Get clued up on any allergies before the kids descend, and be mindful of any veggies/vegans/Coeliacs etc.

Traditional party foods such as breadsticks and dips, cheese and pineapple, carrot pieces, chicken goujons, crisps in a bowl and pre-cut fruit always go down well, and there’s plenty of more inventive ideas available online! Looking for sweet stuff? Go for fairy cakes, colourful biscuits and those much-loved chocolate fingers. The aim is to go for food that kids can grab and go whilst they’re having fun.

If some of the parents are sticking around for the party, have plenty of tea and coffee available… a slice of cake won’t go amiss, either!

Pass the parcel

Gift exchanges can be awkward, but they don’t need to be! The approach will be different in every circle of friends, and if you’re new to it all, ask a friendly mum or dad what the status-quo is and make sure you don’t feel pressure to conform!

Traditionally in the UK, gifts are opened after the guests have gone home. If you do open them at the party, make sure write down who gave them what whilst it’s fresh in your mind. Don’t delay with the thank you notes; it’s not just polite, but it’s such a good habit for your kids to get used to.

Action stations…

In the last few days leading up to the party, here’s a checklist to keep plans in check!

Three days away:

  • If hosting the party at home, start getting the house ready (clean and make sure it’s childproof);
  • Prepare the party bags if you’re giving them;
  • Prepare a party playlist and gather any equipment for activities/games.

The day before:

  • Buy the food and drinks;
  • Decorate the house if the party is at home, or assemble the decorations in a box if you’re having the party elsewhere;
  • Get party clothes ready to change into 30 minutes before guests are due to arrive.

Party time:

  • Get your little one ready before smartening yourself up;
  • Cook and lay out the food;
  • Receive the cake delivery or collect from the bakery;
  • Welcome your guests and get partying!

Party-planning can actually be a blast once you’ve got the main aspects covered, so try to enjoy it!

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