HOW TO PLAN A BIRTHDAY PARTY
Birthday parties are a great boost to any child’s self-esteem. Making them feel like kings (or queens) for the day is one of the best (and most lasting) gifts you can give them. But where and how should you start?
Many parents feel more comfortable starting with a theme around which they can organize invitations, decorations, games, crafts and food. Both you and your child will enjoy making plans that reflect her interests — whether it’s a favourite Movie Character, a Sports theme, an art party, a Pool Party, or an animal adventure.
Guest List and Invitations
You should make the guest list for your preschooler, but once your child is over three or four, he should be consulted. The invitations can be either store-bought or homemade and should set the mood for the event. Older kids may enjoy making invitations out of paper dolls, puzzle pieces or computer templates, depending on your chosen theme. In addition to obvious information like the time, date and directions, include special details like “bring a swimsuit” or “parents should accompany children.”
If you decide your home or apartment isn’t suitable for a children’s party, there are several off-site options that come with obvious advantages including being able to come back to a clean home after the party is over. You can reserve space in an event center, recreation center, kid-friendly restaurants. Parties away from home usually work better for children over five since younger children may be overwhelmed by unfamiliar surroundings.
Atmosphere is everything. Once you’ve chosen a theme, use a little creativity to set the scene. Kids are naturally imaginative; they’ll play along when you use simple household gadgets to transform your home into a party room. Or better still you could employ the services of an event planner to relieve you of all the hassles associated with planning and coordinating a party.
Depending on the ages and attention spans of your guests, outside entertainment could be a big hit. But younger children (those under four or five) may be frightened or just plain bored by a performance that goes on longer than 45 minutes. Ask your event planner to tell you what entertainment packages they’ve got for kids and make your choice according to your budget. You would be amazed at how just getting a Clown, for instance, could change the party scene. Getting a good DJ is also very important. Be sure to tell the DJ your music preference so he/she doesn’t go playing music you are not comfortable with.
Depending on the size of your party, you could decide to cook food at home for party guest. However, you could employ the services of a caterer that could handle all aspects of food for the party. Most parties serve kids menu which includes food like hotdog, chicken and chips and so on. Ask your caterer if she can prepare such.
For brief parties, cake and ice cream is really the only refreshment you need. Many young children look at the cake as the focal point of the whole birthday ritual, so be sure to let them help make it or select the cake design which can be ordered from a baker. Tradition dictates that the birthday boy or girl gets the first piece of cake and that they will probably choose the piece with the most frosting and decorations on it. Consider having more than one flavor of ice cream on hand, however, since young children can be picky eaters and prefer ice cream over cake.
Dealing with Siblings
It’s the birthday kid’s big day but that doesn’t mean you can ignore her brothers and sisters. Allow the sibling to invite their special friends and this will encourage them to be actively involved in the celebration.
Expect the Unexpected
The hardest thing to plan for at any birthday party is the unexpected. Here’s what you can do to keep chaos at bay:
- Be prepared for meltdowns. An adult helper can take a distraught child aside while the rest of the group continues celebrating.
- Stock band-aids, ice and tissue.
- If parents are dropping off children, be sure you know about any food allergies or relevant medical conditions.
- If you have pets, it’s best to keep them separate from the guests. Include them in your family celebration — but know that some children are allergic to or afraid of even the most gentle of animals. Similarly, many pets are afraid of small children who may not know that it’s a bad idea to pull tails or step on paws.