Does the mere thought of organising a children’s party bring you out in a cold sweat? Maybe you relish the idea of entertaining a classroom of children each year? Well one thing is for certain – the anniversary of that special day when your child came into the world will arrive, bringing with it carefully wrapped presents, vivid novelty cards, the re-appearance of more distant family members and – the obligatory birthday party!
Help! Where Do I Start? OK, don’t panic. Find a suitably convenient time to sit down quietly with your child to discuss what type of party it’s going to be. Chances are their little imaginations will run riot, listing a huge variety of possibilities to create the best party ever; but be realistic. Can you afford your child’s birthday dream? Will you have time to complete all the arrangements? Once you have decided on a theme or particular type of party, spend some time drawing up a countdown list to fathom how much work will be involved.
4–6 Weeks to go to the Big Day: Choose a date on or near your child’s birthday and arrange a suitable time. Phone around venues/party attractions to check availability. If you want special entertainment, book a professional entertainer. With your child, discuss the guest list. Send out invitations with your child at school.
2–4 Weeks to go: If your party venue doesn’t supply food, write up your menu. Fill up your freezer. Buying party food in advance will give you the opportunity to take advantage of three for two and ‘Buy one get one free’ offers that line the supermarket aisles. Buy the non-perishable items.
1 Week to go: Follow up non-receipts of RSVPs. Finalise numbers. Buy or order the birthday cake. Shop for the party food either online or at the supermarket. Re-confirm date and times with the venue and entertainer. Arrange the party bags. Remember to make up a couple of extras for brothers and sisters who might stay. Sort out your child’s birthday costume.
On the Day: Decorate the venue and prepare food and drink. Collect the Helium Balloons and blow up any other balloons. Write the name of each guest onto a stick-on label to attach to the cups. This will avoid any potential upset. Remember the bin bags, washing-up liquid and cleaning cloths. And don’t forget the matches! Keep track of who gave which present. It helps when writing thank you letters.
That’s What I Call Entertainment! Your child might want to curl up in a corner at the sight of Uncle Wayne ‘entertaining’ the guests with his rendition of ‘Is this the Way to Amarillo?’ whilst tap dancing Bruce Forsyth-style across the party table. So a good idea to save your child’s school-life credibility is to book a professional entertainer. Comical clowns, humorous puppeteers and mystical magicians can add that extra touch of sparkle to any ’do’. Many entertainers will steal the show throughout the duration, leaving grateful Mums and Dads time to carry out the straightforward role of host – serving food and drink. Remember: the best children’s entertainers are often booked up months in advance, especially on the popular Saturday and Sunday afternoon slots. Contact them as soon as possible.
BOOK AN ALL INCLUSIVE PARTY PACKAGE: The beauty of arranging a party at a local attraction is in its simplicity. Everything is done for you. This might save you not only time, but money, too. After all, it’s easy to get carried away buying bits and pieces for a Do-It-Yourself child’s party, totting up the overall cost, whilst many attractions provide an all-in package including invitations, catering; the cake and party bags. And the children will be quite content in the company of friends running riot in the ball pools, zooming down the drop slides at an Adventure Park, or getting close to nature at an animal park or zoo. LET THEM
GET CREATIVE: If you can’t face the prospect of over energised children, a surprisingly relaxing option is an arty-style party. Children are quite happy to while away a couple of hours painting and creating artistic pieces – either at home or at a local studio. ‘Paint Your Own Pottery’ has become especially popular as a child’s party option, as are art and craft parties where children make stuff to take home with them. MAKE A SPLASH: Swimming parties will always be popular amongst children and will not overstretch the bank balance. Find out if your local swimming pool provides a lifeguard and if it adheres to a strict child-to-adult helper ratio. Providing a novel alternative, other popular water or beach-based parties include surfing, canoeing and diving.
GET FIT AND ACTIVE: Many local sport centres and football clubs provide attractive party packages for children, allowing them to get active and have fun with friends. For the more adrenalin- filled youngster, some local providers offer adventure-style parties.
DO IT YOURSELF: A party in the confines of your own home is likely to be labour intensive; yet will be easier on the budget. Spruce up a home party by using a professional face painter, or let the guests sample some beauty treats. Alternatively, if it will fit in your garden, a Bouncy Castle provides an affordable way to entertain the children for an hour or so. Once the guests have returned home, the dishes have been washed, the crumbs swept away, and the birthday child is sound asleep, put your feet up and treat yourself to a big chilled glass of wine! After all, you deserve it!