1 – WHO TO INVITE
“We find that up to the age of about seven, children will invite the whole class to a birthday party, which works well for a disco or classic party. However, by the age of eight, children are more discerning about their invites, and groups have usually formed so not every child wants to go to every party. This can be a positive, as reduced numbers allow for more intricate and often more exciting activities for a party, such as an elaborate treasure hunt, laser tag party or music video-making.”
2 – INVITATIONS
“Send the invitations out in good time to ensure a good turn-out for the birthday boy or girl. For something different, print the invitation onto a CD of your child’s favourite tunes or upload a video invitation onto a USB stick. Remember to include the birthday boy/girl’s name, the date, time (start AND finish), location, theme (if any), RSVP details, and a mobile number on the day. Optional: say if parents are invited to stay or if you’d rather they dropped children off; we’d recommend drop-off from five years-old and up.”
3 – PLANNING
“Try to plan your child’s party with real life busy parents in mind – replying to a birthday party invitation is naturally going to play second fiddle to school runs, doctors’ appointments and inter-sibling civil wars. With this in mind, prepare to be flexible about numbers. Of course, if you are booking external activities that require exact numbers, then it’s worth keeping a close eye on replies. By all means, give a gentle reminder to anyone who hasn’t responded or is known to be going through a busy time at home. We recently organised a party for which we offered to manage the invitee responses, which allowed us to gently chase those who hadn’t replied without the host appearing pushy.”
4 – ENTERTAINING AT HOME
“If you have the space, hosting your child’s party at home is a lovely idea. However, be true to yourself – can you really face 25 hyperactive five-year-olds charging through your home? Cake will be trodden into the carpet and sticky paw prints will adorn your walls.”
5 – BOOKING A VENUE
“If you opt for a venue, check the following before booking:
- Can you bring in your own catering?
- Is there a kitchen you can use?
- Do they have any policies on ball games, music, noise levels, etc?
- Do they have children’s tables and chairs available at no extra fee?
- Are there any limitations on decorations and balloons?
- Is there a music system you can use?
- Is there an outdoor area?
- Is there natural light?
- Do you have to take away all the rubbish?
- Is it easy to manage people coming and going?
- Is it a clutter-free space?
Remember, accidents do happen and largely because of sharp edges, desks, chairs, even swinging doors.”
6 – ENTERTAINMENT
“If you choose to provide the entertainment yourself, at home or in the venue, have four hours of games planned. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you race through games and ditch ones that don’t work on that particular day for that particular group of children. Other tips include:
- Don’t expect children to sit through a performance; keep them involved with games, treasure hunts, tug-of-wars, cooking, competitions and artistic creations.
- Vary the activities. Fun activities include crafts, musical games, active games, and competitions.
- Change the pace throughout the party.
- Don’t eliminate individuals, they’re all there to have a good time, not to be told they’re out because they didn’t freeze quickly enough or get to the chair on time.
- Don’t hand out too many sweets or prizes; they are your currency for that two hours and you don’t want to devalue them.
- Be fair and flexible.
- Throw every ounce of energy into the party.
- Have fun!
If you’re finding organising the party a chore, the children will pick up on it and will not engage in the games.”
7 – FOOD AND DRINK
“Not the most fun task, but a very important one nonetheless. Bear in mind allergies and dietary requirements for both adults and children.”
8 -BIRTHDAY CAKE
“Remember to buy candles, matches, and a knife to cut the birthday cake.”
9 – ROOM DECORATIONS
“Often venues can be quite stark so bring as many decorations as possible to lighten the place up. You can never have enough balloons, especially helium balloons.”
10 – ALLOTING TIME
“Allow for plenty of set-up time before the party and tidy-up time afterwards.”
11 -GROWN UPS
“Provide parents with refreshments and keep them out of sight, preferably in a separate room as they often make so much noise that children can’t hear themselves think!”
Feeling inspired? Visit Sharky and George online now to view party planning options, goody bags and lots more.