My youngest daughter turns 5 this weekend and I’m in the middle of organising her birthday party. Over the past 6 years, we have hosted 10 kid’s birthday parties in our house (and one in a local hall) and we are continuing to learn from each one!
1. Be prepared
Like with any party, it’s really important to be prepared. Make a list of things that need to get done and space them out for the week before hand. Don’t leave everything to the night before or even worse – the morning of the party. In fact, it’s a good idea to have an activity lined up for your children to do in the morning, if your party is in the afternoon. Otherwise, every few minutes you’ll be asked questions like ‘What time is it now?’ and ‘How much longer til my friends arrive?’. Here’s my ‘to-do’ list for Saturday’s party:
- Shop for party essentials (ingredients for cake/birthday cake, party food, paper plates and cups, party bags and contents, prizes for games and birthday present) A lot of these can be bought online, which makes it easier to hide from already hyped children!
- Wrap Birthday present and pass-the-parcel
- Make up the party bags
- Make any food that can be prepared in advance. For me, I keep this simple – chocolate krispies and the birthday cake.
2. Keep it Simple
I have found that it’s very easy to make a lot of work for yourself, which often isn’t necessary! For example, you can go to a lot of work preparing sandwiches, carrot and celery sticks and chopped fruit and a lot of it will be wasted. I have come to accept that it’s a kid’s birthday party and it’s ok to serve mainly treats. After all, if they went to play centre, they would be served fried food. For this party, I’ll be serving popcorn, cocktail sausages, chocolate krispies, birthday cake and drinks and any adults that stay will be offered a hot drink. That’s it.
3. Know your Limits
We live in a smallish, semi detached house. Thankfully, one of my daughters is a summer baby, which means we usually have the option of going out in the garden. However, last year, when my eldest wanted her whole class in November, I knew my limit and booked a hall. It would have just been too stressful for me to have had so many children in a small space. When we have home parties, I usually limit it to 8 or less children (+ my two!). This is manageable for me and our space. Set your own limits and encourage your children to stick by them, after all, you are the parent and it’s your home too.
4. Set Boundaries
Having a kid’s birthday party in your home can be exhausting and there is nothing worse that spending the two hours chasing after children and giving out! That’s not what a party should be, so make it clear to your children before the party, what is expected of them. Usually your children are the ones who lead and if they know the rules, it’s probable that they will obey and others will just copy them. So, for example, I will tell my daughters on Saturday morning, that during the party they are
- not allowed in my ‘work room’,
- not allowed play with water
- not allowed to play with certain toys (like paints or toys that could be easily broken)
- to obey the rules of the games and not whine if they lose
- not allowed to ask for any additional food than what is provided
- only allowed to eat in the kitchen or outside in the garden
- not to fight with each other or any of their friends
- only allowed to open the birthday presents after everyone has gone home
5. Choose a Theme and Games
Having a theme can really help with party planning. This year my daughter wants a baking and craft party. I have chosen a very simple cup cake recipe and I’ll have all the ingredients pre-measured, so it will just be a matter of each child getting a turn of adding something into the bowl and beating it. Then, when they are done, each child can have fun decorating some. I’ve also chosen a few simple crafts, which they can do, if they want to – some mask making and scratch art. Although these things add up, they make cheap party favours, so each child will go home with a little bag of cupcakes and crafts that they have made. If you’d like to see some craft ideas for a DIY Birthday Party, check out this blog.
I am very aware that it’s easy to fill the time with activities and games when often all the kids want to do is to jump on the trampoline and run around – especially at this age. That’s why, I’ll make the crafts and cookery optional. I’ll also have a couple of games ready in case they get bored or boisterous! For 5 year olds, games have to be very simple. I’m opting for pass the parcel (with the same number of wrappers as children and a sweet in each wrapper, so there’s not tears when one person wins everything) and musical statues. For both of these, you’ll need a bit of adult help and it’s wise to have a song list lined up on your phone so you’re not searching You Tube frantically to find upbeat children’s songs! (been there – done that!) Alternatively, I stock a game called ‘Stinky Pig‘ Which works a bit like pass-the-parcel only you don’t have to wrap the present, as you just pass the pig around and it plays it’s own music.
In the past, I’ve attempted face painting, however, I’m not particularly creative and as the children have got older, they have noticed this!! It also can be very time consuming painting 8 children’s faces. This year, I’m opting for temporary tattoos instead.
Remember this is not a ‘1 man show’ and you will need help. As my kids have got older, less and less parents stay for the party. I actually find this easier, as I only have to entertain the children and not the parents too. However, having one or two parents can come in handy! Or, if you know that all the parents will leave, why not rope in a teenage cousin or neighbour to help? Jobs you could delegate are things like – taking photos of the party, comforting children that maybe have hurt themselves (don’t forget to have your First Aid Kit handy, especially plasters, in case you need them) and helping with tattoos, pouring drinks and cleaning up etc.
7. Set a Budget
It’s easy to convince yourself that hosting your child’s birthday party is the cheapest option. It can be but it can also work out very expensive – so set a budget and keep to it!
If at all possible, enjoy the party, enjoy seeing your child have fun with their friends and enjoy getting to know the other little people in their lives. When the party is over, ignore the mess and go out for food or a drink to celebrate your child’s birthday in an adult way. After all, each birthday is a mark of celebration for a parent too. I personally celebrate that I haven’t killed my child (as there are several occasions throughout the year when I feel the urge….)
p.s If you liked this blog, you might also like my blog with 8 tips on how to survive working from home this summer.