I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly sides of children’s birthday parties and in this post, I am going to share some tips for making things easier on parents while also ensuring that your child has the time of their lives.
For the past 10 years I have been a children’s birthday party and event coordinator/ entertainer in and around the lower mainland. I have been apart of hundreds of parties (sometimes up to 5 a weekend) and have seen it all.
People book me to come to their events and lead kids through Acting, Yoga and Musical Theatre parties with many different themes and for a variety of age groups. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly sides of birthday parties and in this post, I am going to share some tips for making things easier on parents while also ensuring that your child has the time of their lives.
Know Your Child
When you start planning your party, my first suggestion is you really think about what will make your child happy. I know this sounds obvious, but it really is that simple. Does your child get overwhelmed in large groups or when being the centre of attention? I’d suggest skipping the large class party and instead opting for a more calm and intimate event with a small group or best friend.. Does your child have something they are absolutely passionate about? Theme the party around that! Many local gymnastics gyms, martial arts dojos, or arts studios offer birthday party packages, and there are a few companies like Act Alive that will even come to you to offer custom theme parties involving dancing, singing, acting or yoga.
Set Your Kid Up For Success
Birthday parties can bring on all the feels, so prep your kid to manage their emotions by helping them to get a good night's sleep the night before, and feed them healthy food and keep them hydrated leading up to the big event. Nothing is worse for a parent than a birthday child that has a melt down at their own party, so help them avoid feeling overwhelmed by taking these simple actions in preparation.
It is also important to keep rest and nutrition/hydration in mind when sending your child to a party, so that they can show up as the best version of themselves.
Keep It Tight
Though it is lovely to invite the whole class to a party, it is not necessary. Invite the people your child is truly friends with and feel free to leave party poopers (we’ve all met them) off the guest list. That being said, it is also a wonderful idea to teach your child compassion by inviting a student in their class who could use a new friend or would benefit from being included.
Separation of Food and Fun
I know setting up a grazing table works great at adult parties, but at kids events it actually causes problems. First and foremost, it is a choking hazard, as kids will scarf down as many fishy crackers as they can while en route to jump on a trampoline without taking the time to chew. Food can also be a huge distraction if there is an activity that is supposed to be taking place, as well as causing damage (brownie ground into your carpet etc) and additional cleaning time. Take it from me and plan seated snack and food breaks instead of leaving it all out on a table.
Who’s The Boss?
Though it can feel a little uncomfortable to tell someone else’s kids what to do (hired party leaders are used to it don’t worry) it is really important that there is someone clearly in charge who can set boundaries. A simple “ We don’t do that here, please don’t X again.” can go a long way to keep negative behaviours from escalating quickly. If you hire a company to offer entertainment or events they will likely be able to take over this role for you, but it is important to consider who is in charge and when. If being in charge is not something that you feel comfortable with, ask another parent friend or family member to take it on for you. Offering boundaries is not crossing any lines, and can be done in a very kind and respectful way. You’ve got this!
Teach Your Child How To Be A Host With The Most
While the party is for your child, they are also helping to host it. Teach them how to graciously receive gifts and remind them to thank their friends for coming. Get your child involved helping to make decorations, or putting together gift bags or thank you cards. Helping will give them a sense of purpose and allow them to see the effort that goes into throwing a party, as well as teaching them to appreciate their guests for attending.
While having a free-range party can work on occasion, believe me when I say that parties go awry in the moments when kids are excitedly running around the house or yard with no real direction fuelled on sugar and excitment. Feelings and bodies get hurt and emotions run high. Even if you are keeping your party really budget friendly and simple, I recommend planning games and activities to keep the energy focused and under control.
Ps. Remember pin the tail on the donkey? Kids today would either be horrified or find it ridiculously novel, I’d love to find out which.
In today’s world, staying healthy is paramount. Postpone your party if your child is sick, and don’t send your child to a party if they are feeling unwell . Have hand sanitizer available, and consider a personal cupcake with candles in it instead of having your child blow out their candles across the entire cake.
Once you have chosen your activity or event, do your best to keep the children focused on that. Birthday children can get upset when their friends aren’t participating in their chosen activity so I recommend putting away other toys and not having a bouncy castle, trampoline or other enticing distraction pulling your guest’s focus from the main event. Parents hanging around chatting can also be a huge distraction; so give adults a separate place to be, ask them to come back for pick up or at least ask them not to speak loudly on the side of the room while the entertainer or party leader has the floor.
Go With The Flow
While it’s great to plan, be the boss and keep in mind all the other tips we have offered here, at the end of the day it is a party intended to celebrate your child while showing their friends a good time. Try to be flexible and forgiving, keep things light and have fun!
At the end of the day, Godspeed to anyone who chooses to host a kids birthday party! They can be a lot of work and pressure, but also create amazing memories for your child to cherish forever. Hopefully these tips will help you to throw an easeful and entertaining event that is as enjoyable for your child and their guests as it is for you. If you have any questions about our themed parties, we would be happy to take the pressure off so please get in touch.