Throwing A Party For Children
It’s one of the big events of their year yet you’re dreading it. Here are a few tips to help you get organised & get the party running smoothly.
How To Organise A Children’s Party
Where To Have The Party
First think about how many children you’re thinking of inviting. An average house will comfortably house around 8-10 young guests. Any more & you may want to think about hiring a hall. Think about the size of your table or whether they’re going to eat sitting on the floor. If you’re going down the hiring route, why not see if there’s someone at school or playgroup you can have a joint party with. Some parents may stay if the children are under 5 so you’ll need room to accommodate them too.
Party Themes for Children
Young children love to dress up so a themed party always goes down well. It gives the children something to focus on & can also make it easier for you. Popular themes are princess, knight, circus, under the sea & pirate. Click on the links for ideas. Older children, age 7 upwards, may prefer themes such as secret agent or cupcake.
Age 3 & Under
Don’t feel pressured to have a party for your 1 or 2 year old just because other people are. The one year old won’t understand & both ages can feel overwhelmed by it all. However, if you would like to, hiring a soft play area works well or if you have them, set up some play tents & tunnels for the children to crawl around in & make a ball pit from a small paddling pool filled with light plastic balls. Push along or sit on toys are also good. If you don’t already have them, many of the items can be found cheaply in second-hand shops or on ebay or see if you can borrow from friends.
A craft table where the children can colour in or decorate a crown, for example, allows for some quiet time amongst the running around.
Bubble machines always provide endless fascination but put it at a height where it can’t be played with.
Ask parents to stay at the party so that they are on hand if there are any issues. A one & a half hour party is plenty for this age group.
For 3 year olds, add some simple party games such as musical bumps & pass the parcel. To make it easier for you, you may like to have a bowl of small sweets at hand for the children to choose from as they are out.
Invitations can be as simple or elaborate as you like, as long as they’ve got the relevant information on them: who it’s to, whose party, date, time, venue & contact details of who to reply to. Check for any special dietary needs. Design the invitations on the computer, buy simple sheets to fill in from a shop or cut out shapes relevant to your theme. For example, a fish shape for an Under The Sea party or a tiger’s head for a Tiger Party. Let your child colour in one side & you can write the party details on the back.
Unless you are used to working with groups of children & holding their attention, two hours is usually enough for a party. Try & hold it in the morning so you don’t have an excited child around you all day.
As replies come in, keep a list of contact numbers & names. Check it with parents as they drop their child off or get them to fill it in if there are any gaps.
Balloons & bunting instantly transform a room & are quick to put up & take down if time is tight. Try & tie the colours in with your theme, if you have one but younger children won’t notice & will just like it bright & cheerful. Walls can be decorated with posters or shapes cut out of card & Blu-tacked on. Allocate a table for presents so that guests can see where to put them or the birthday child can, once received.
Entertainment & Games
If you’re not a natural born leader, hiring an entertainer can take some of the stress off your shoulders. It can be a magician, beauty person, mini zoo, chocolate maker, princess, teddy maker or just someone to lead the games; the list is endless. Whatever your child might be interested in, you can probably find someone. Some will entertain for an hour, some will oversee the whole party. If just having for an hour, let them start about 10/15 minutes after the party start time to allow for everyone to get there. Afterwards, serve food & then if there’s time, play a few games.
Set up a table with felt tips, crayons, stickers & free print outs relevant to your theme. Children can decorate them at the start of the party whilst they are waiting for everyone to arrive. You could also get them to decorate their party bags if you have plain paper ones (write the child’s name on it). If any children don’t want to join in with the games, they can always go back to the colouring table.
If you don’t know the children very well, provide a sticky label name badge for each child as they arrive or get them to colour one in at the craft table whilst waiting for other guests to arrive.
Start with a team game, either in pairs or more, to help the shy children settle. This could be a treasure hunt or fancy dress race. Make games relevant to your theme so for a circus treasure hunt, the children could look for pictures of strongmen, clowns, elephants & acrobats with each team looking for either a different subject or one of each. Move on to games such as Musical Islands or Pass The Parcel. Have the islands as pictures from the theme & try & have prizes to fit in too. Keep less active games for after food.
Serve the food about an hour/an hour & a quarter after the party start time. If serving hot food, this can be heating whilst the entertainer is on or the children are playing games.
Trying to get children to wash their hands before they eat should be fine at a small party at home but may cause chaos in a hall if you don’t have enough helpers. Have a bottle of antibacterial hand gel on the side & get the children to line up for that before sitting down.
Children are excited at parties & may not eat much, preferring to get down & play. Serve foods that will appeal to the majority. The do not need a large variety as they will take a handful of each & then most will be left on the plate. One option is to find out everyone’s favourite sandwich filling beforehand & make up lunch boxes. Finger food is easiest but if you wish to serve cooked vegetables just don’t forget the cutlery.
Cheese & tomato pizza with chips (& ketchup), mini tomatoes, carrot & cucumber sticks
Selection of sandwiches such as cheese, ham & jam with crisps, hummus, mini tomatoes, carrot & cucumber sticks.
Serve the birthday cake for dessert and put bowls of fruit such as grapes & strawberries on the table.
A jug of water & one of juice should be enough variety. Only half fill the cups to cut down on spillages.