Everyone knows them, at some point everyone has either held one or been to one. For children they’re quite often an amazing couple of hours filled with excitement and hyperactivity. For parents they’re more likely to be a stressful occasion, or one of dread. You could be a parent who likes parties, although I don’t think I’ve found a parent who likes them all. I think it comes down to what the party entails, how long, what activities etc. As soon as your child starts attending a regular group of children placement, be it school, preschool, nursery etc the invitations start flooding in. In the 2 years Logan has been at school we’ve had a good amount of party invitations, most I’ve accepted, some we couldn’t make. He’s been to a great variety of parties, from soft play to Home, entertainers to pottery painting, and yesterday he attended a go kart party! Whatever the theme I’ve found most to be quite noisy, excitement inducing, and full of sugary snacks and drinks. He’s enjoyed each and every one of them though. I suppose that’s what counts. I’ve managed to avoid organising a party so far, but have almost done so until we convinced master Heberling otherwise, but here are a few tips for organising a party from my point of view:
- Cost. Parties can be ridiculously expensive. Consider working out a rough budget before deciding on what to do. Lots of different things will effect how much it’ll cost, where it’ll be, if you have entertainment or not, decorations, food, cake, party bags etc. If you do it all yourself at home or at a village hall you may save yourself some pennies. Pinterest may also come in use for money saving ideas, or how to do things yourself. Kids don’t need to have an expensive entertainer or soft play party, so don’t feel you need to go all out. It’s not a competition.
- Who to invite. You may be on a limit of who you can invite, maybe by price, location or a certain activity you’re doing. Many people seem to invite the whole class, and this seems to work well if you’re not under a limit. No one gets left out, and it may be a good way to get to know classmates (and their parents!). If you’re under a limit ask your child, don’t go by people you like, sit down your child and ask who’d they’d like there. If they’re not sure on names you could always ask their teacher who their friends are. Please don’t leave just one or two children out when the rest of the class is invited. Just because you don’t like the parent or think the child’s a troublemaker doesn’t mean you should penalise the child. Remember the class will most likely talk about it, and that child would feel very left out. It’s not kind, don’t do it.
- Party food. Food is a hard one I feel. When we were young it was all junk food and fizzy. Then there was a craze of healthy food. Personally I feel that you should provide a good selection of both healthy and junk food. Kids can be fussy, pizza and nuggets are always a winner. Fruit probably wouldn’t go down too well depending on age, but there are plenty of healthy alternatives out there. I’d much prefer fizzy to not be on offer until they’re much older. Avoid nuts, and consider if any child has any intolerances. Alternatively, avoid meal times, and just have drinks and cake!
- Party bags/favours. Remember as a child you got a bag of tat? A mix of random little things that either broke very quickly or were pointless? These still exist. Don’t go there. There are plenty of other options. Most go for sweet cones these days, which are obviously always a hit, and fairly cheap to either buy or make yourself. Give a pot of playdoh and a cutter or two for younger kids. DIY science experiment kits can be a hit for older kids. One party we’ve been to gave out a book to each child which I think is a fantastic idea! Again, there’s loads on pinterest. Be creative and choose something that you’d also be happy to have at home, nothing annoying!
- Have fun. Don’t get stressed about it all, a party is supposed to be fun for everyone, organisers included. Your child will enjoy it more if you’re enjoying it too. Get help from family and friends if you’re doing it yourself. Take a moment to step back and watch your child having fun, take photos, join in. Birthday parties are there to remind you that your child is growing up. They’re only little once. Relish in the moment.
Obviously there’s lots more to parties than that, but I think they’re some important things to think about. Now, if you are a parent of an attendee there is also a couple of things to consider:
- Presents. I’m sure this is at the front of most people’s minds once the invitations have been sent out. For some kids you know exactly what you’ll get them, but other kids you may not know so well, or at all, so what do you get them? Whatever you do, don’t go overboard. Set a limit on what you’ll spend. Ask your child what you think the birthday child would like. Consider the age of the child and how well your child knows them. Personally, I go for a book for most parties, if Logan knows them well and is a really good friend then I’d get them something more, but I think books are perfect, there’s always a book to fit the birthday child’s needs. If you’re really unsure, or don’t want to spend much then rally together with a couple of other parents and buy something between you. Remember, don’t feel you have to spend a lot, never forget presence over presents.
- Don’t force your child to join in. Parties can be quite overwhelming, loud and down right scary places to be, especially for small children. There may be people they’ve never met before there. There may be an entertainer who is a bit too much for your child. They may not want to run around with the other children, kicking balloons. Don’t force them to join in if they do not want to. Parties can be unsettling and new. Let your child soak it all in, let it be their decision on when to join in. Stay with them, and point things out, explain things, encourage but don’t push, experience it with them. Most kids will warm up, some don’t, and that’s okay. If it’s a drop off party then explain to the birthday parent, they should let you settle them before leaving or even stay the whole time. If your child isn’t a party animal don’t ever feel the need to apologise about them, don’t worry about if you leave early or even not attend the party. Everyone has to enjoy themselves and if you have to make that decision for the better of your child then you are doing a great job knowing their needs.
Hope you can take something away from this, or maybe you feel I’m not qualified to tell you how to organise a party due to never actually doing so myself. However I’ve attended a fair few (two for this week!) and discussed it a lot with other parents, so feel I’ve had a good insight. Happy party planning, and remember, if you’re attending a party, don’t forget to have something to hand for that inevitable headache you get from the shrill shrieks of a group of small children.
Photo shows a cake that Mr Heberling made for logans 4th birthday, it did have dinosaurs on, but we took them off for the eruption!