Sometimes the thought of a birthday party, with all the planning, politics and pressure can be overwhelming. So, to make the process simple and help you focus on the fun – here are our top tips to fill your kid’s special day with joy and laughter. Birthdays are meant to be a time of celebration – not stress.
A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
The biggest trick is being organised and setting a budget. Decide at the beginning how much money you are willing to spend and stick to it. It’s so easy to splurge when it comes to our kids. Include all costs – cake, food, decorations, party favours, entertainment and games.
Establish what kind of party it will be – at a specialised party venue (less hassle for you), at a location away from your home (park, beach), or a home-based party. You may even decide to host a sleep-over. Each involve varying levels of organisation – there is no right or wrong way to party – it’s about what works for you time-wise and budget-wise.
Involve your child in the planning – what options do they have to choose from? Would they like a theme? How many friends can they invite? What sort of cake would they like? Etc.
Start early and make a list of everything you need to do to get the party ready and tick completed tasks off one by one. Organising a party is all about ‘task portion control’, be realistic about how much time you need and what you can take on and break up the tasks into achievable chunks. Taking on a little at a time is more achievable than trying to do it all at once.
Similarly, having a list of things to do on the day to be ready for when guests arrive can help. You can also split up the list and ask family members to help – so it’s not all on you. If you also have a plan of how the party will roll out (e.g. a general timeline of events) it can also help you avoid stress.
Have a party game box with everything you need in one place – ready to play on the day.
Set a guest limit and stick to it (you don’t have to invite the whole class).
Specify on the invites:
- if siblings are not invited, to avoid uninvited extras.
- if parents are welcome to stay, or if it’s a drop and go party.
- if there is anything they need to bring (socks, swimmers etc)
- if there is a cost to parents (roller-skating, swimming, etc)
Also ask guests to inform you of any dietary requirements when RSVP’ing so you can plan accordingly.
Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to catering – we can go ‘all gourmet’, but the kids go for the party pies and cheerios anyway. Do what’s achievable for you. If any of your guests have flagged dietary requirements with their RSVP – keep that in mind and provide options. Supermarkets offer a variety of platters that also make party catering easy. Don’t forget the water – keep a dispenser or jugs of water handy with cups nearby as well as a marker to write the kids names on their cups. Don’t stress over the cake if you’re not a baker. Store-bought cakes are fine – and DELICIOUS! If parents are staying at the party, then remember to cater for them too.
Your entertainment options and requirements will depend on what style of birthday party you have gone with. For example, booking a party at a specialised party venue will generally mean there’s not much more for you to do. However, if you have gone with a DIY party – there’s a lot of options to consider, such as: inflatable jumping castles, petting zoos, yard game hire, face painters, balloon artists, clowns, magicians, craft etc.
If you’re on a budget, traditional party games never go out of fashion! All kids love playing pass-the-parcel, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, musical chairs / cushions, statues and limbo.
Keep a big bowl of treats handy with lollies, little chocolate bars, plastic jewellery, cheap toys, etc, wrapped in newspaper and when kids win a game they can choose a prize from the prize bowl.
Allow time for the kids to entertain themselves. Set up play areas around the yard where they can play with different toys you already own. If it’s a warm day, let the kids play with water balloons, water guns and the sprinkler.
Above all – never underestimate how special the simple things can be and the memories that are made – by just being in the moment. There is no greater gift than a ‘present’ parent – take moments throughout the day to soak it all in, participate and share some one-on one time with your child to tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of them – that’s one memory that will live on, long after the decorations have been taken down.