Keeping it simple – a guide to throwing a children’s party

Is it just me who dreads that time of year coming around – the party season?  And I don’t mean black tie, posh hotels and cocktail dresses.  It’s the moment when your DD or DS’s birthday is approaching – rapidly. The first few are fun – and, let’s face it, if you didn’t throw a party they wouldn’t notice.  It’s once they start school or nursery and make (and frequently break) friends it becomes trickier.  They begin to get a firm idea of what they would like – a One Direction party, maybe in Disney princess dresses – including the boys, out in the woods.  And they won’t be shaken from that decision, bribery or not.  So, set your parameters from the outset.  Offer your child ‘doable’ choices.  And be organised.  Good venues will get booked up in advance.  If you want to make life easy for yourself plan ahead – a couple of months or so works well.  It gives you time to book an entertainer if you need one, and send out invitations and receive RSVPs back.  Too early and you are in danger people may forget, too late and they may already be booked up.  And pick friends’ brains about venues and entertainers.

Below are some tips for keeping children’s parties simple, stress-free and all round good fun.

  • Involve your child (if they are old enough) in the decision making – but if they are asking the impossible gently steer them towards something more realistic.  It’s all about compromise – so yes, they can have a One Direction party, but it will take place in a local church hall, not the woods, and the boys won’t be obliged to wear princess dresses.  I fell into the trap this year of promising my DD the birthday cake of her wishes – homemade – and she decided to stick to the theme of her swimming party – a fully functioning swimming pool with swimmers. I made it – but I’ve learnt my lesson – next year I will offer a couple of simple designs to choose from!
  • Choosing a theme for your party may help keep it simple.  We all know children go through phases of getting just a teeny bit obsessed about certain characters, films or TV shows – we’ve been there with Toy Story, Star Wars and Dora the Explorer, and as Jane tells us here https://www.quietcountrylife.com/firm-favourites/, we aren’t the only ones.  If they are currently in the midst of an obsession then choosing a theme isn’t only easy, it’s obligatory.  You just need to feel quite certain that their fixation lasts until their party is over – not least they will be likely to end up with lots of themed presents, not much help if they started out loving Woody, but have long since moved onto Luke Skywalker.
  • Invitations – couldn’t be simpler, eh? Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?  But there are all kinds of potential pitfalls where invitations are concerned.  Beginning with who to invite.  The whole class (when they are younger)?  If you want to avoid parental wrath at the school gates it might be best – it’s hard to underestimate how upset people can become over a simple party invitation – or lack of.  And if you aren’t going to invite everyone it’s probably best to keep it to a smaller number – it is hard on the kids who are left out if 28 out of 30 children have received an invitation.  But, equally, if your child has a close group of friends it’s only fair they invite them.  And then, make sure you get all the details on the invite, and that they are correct, including venue, your phone number and a date by which you would like to have received an RSVP, in case some children aren’t able to make it and you have a ‘reserve’ list.
  • Write out a plan and a checklist for the day itself.  If timings are important, make a note of them –and pack yourself some party essentials – sharp knife, matches, bin bag (to transport gifts), party bags, napkins for cake.
  • Games – keeping them busy is the name of the game, especially for younger children.  Games are great ice-breakers, and they keep kids on the move.  The traditional games we played when we were kids – musical chairs, musical bumps are still firm favourites.
    • Food – best tip is to keep it simple.  A few choices of sandwiches (you might want to find out about allergies or dietary requirements), some fruit, chopped up veg, crisps, little cakes and cocktail sausages will do just nicely.  Children, if they’ve been running around for an hour or so should hopefully be hungry, but they will also be distracted, and are unlikely to be interested in anything too fancy.
    • Party bags.  As children get older the trend is to pop one ‘bigger’ gift into each bag.  One blogger https://www.reallymissingsleep.com/2014/05/grown-out-of-party-bags-not-just-yet.html suggests giving science kits or disposable cameras.  For younger children who still like to empty the party bag into their laps on the journey home a simple option is to go for the ready-filled party bag.  We have a huge range available on our website https://www.partybagsandsupplies.co.uk/ – and almost every theme you can imagine has been covered!
    • And, last but not least, don’t forget your thank you’s – as likely to be delivered by text these days as by post, but important just the same!