Having a birthday party for your child’s birthday can be a nerve wracking experience. A little bit of planning can turn your party into an almost stress free one.
Involve your child in the planning from the beginning. After all it is their big day. Ask the birthday girl or boy if they have a specific theme in mind. It is super easy to find matching plates, cups and piñatas these days.
Your next step is deciding where to have the party at. The best choice is hosting the party in your own home. If you do not have a home that is big enough to host the party than perhaps one of your relatives will offer their home for the party. A few other options are to have it at a restaurant, activity center, or a local park.
Definitely have a set time for the party. You don’t want to leave an opened ended time on the invitation. That way parents can plan ahead as to what time to pick their children up. Two hours is plenty of time to throw a great party.
A good rule of thumb is to invite one child per each year of your child’s age. The more children you invite, the harder it will be to control the flow of the party. If you need to invite a large group you will probably want to enlist a few adult helpers.
It is a good idea to mail the invitations for the party. The invitations could easily get lost if your child is hand delivering them to classmates. There could also be hard feelings amongst classmates that are not invited. Include directions to the party and a phone number or email address to RSVP to. Make sure you get the invitations in the mail 2 to 3 weeks before the party. You may need to call those who don’t RSVP to see if they are coming.
Here are some age-appropriate party guidelines:
* Ages 1-2: You won’t need to plan organized games, just be sure to have toys to play with. You should only plan on this party lasting 90 minutes, as children of this age have a very short attention span. The children’s parents should stay at the party.
* Ages 3-4: This is the best time to host a theme party as children of this age start to have favorite characters. Children of this age would love to have a piñata and there are pull-string ones so you do not need to have a traditional “swinging at the piñata.” You can also convert a traditional one with a kit. Another simple game such as musical chairs would also work very well for this age group.
* Ages 5-6: A party for this age group requires more structured activities such as games or crafts. It is a good idea to have extra games or crafts planned in case something takes less time than expected. You may want to consider hiring entertainment, such as a magician or a clown for this age group.
* Ages 7-10: This age group loves to do group and team activities. Plan on having a treasure or scavenger hunt. If having an outdoor party is possible, try to incorporate relay races and potato sack races into the games. Craft projects are still popular at this age.
Make sure you have a written game plan for the day of the party. It is very easy when you are in the moment to forget important details that you had planned. It is also important to be flexible in case something doesn’t go as planned. Have a list of all planned activities and some alternatives too.
Here is a simple time line for a party to help you plan:
* First 15 minutes: This the time when everyone arrives. Plan on some arriving early and others arriving late. Explain any rules of the house to the guests at this time.
* Next 15 minutes: Plan on playing an ice-breaking game so that everyone can get to know each other.
* Next 45 minutes: Start any planned activities that you have. If you are handing out prizes make sure that everyone gets one and place them into their party favor bag rather than giving it to the child then. Have more games planned than you think you will need. Plan on replaying games that the children really enjoyed.
* Next 20 minutes: It is time for food. If you are serving a meal, make it something simple and kid friendly such as pizza. It is perfectly acceptable to have the party between meal times and have just cake and ice cream though.
* Next 20 minutes: Time to unwrap the presents. It is best to do this at the end of the party to keep the requests for playing with the new toys down to a minimum. Have a notepad and pen handy so that you can write down what came from whom to make thank you note writing easier.
* Last 5 minutes: Time to find coats and help get shoes on. Parents will be arriving to pick up their children and you will want to hand out the party favor bags at this time.
Some other important points to remember:
* Party Favors: Stick to the theme of the party and expect to spend $3-$5 per child. Try to have the same items in each goodie bag. It is a good idea to pass these out at the end of the party to keep items from being broken or lost at the party. If you are having a craft party there is no need to have a separate party favor. The completed project is the favor.
* Emergency Numbers: Keep a list of all the children’s parents’ names and phone numbers handy.
* Party helpers: Enlist the help of another adult to help you out with the party.
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you throw a stress-free birthday party for your child. Remember above all to have a good time and enjoy yourself. Don’t forget to take pictures of this special day.