When children are young, birthday parties are still a relatively easy affair, with mainly family and a few close friends. However, when they start school, parties become a much grander affair, with a list of party do’s and don’ts the length of your arm. As a mum of two school going children, I have picked up 8 Clever Kids Party Tips Every Parent Should Know, which should help you navigate your way through the minefield of your child’s birthdays!
When did hosting your child’s party become so difficult? My kids were incredulous when we told them that when we were young, we went to school and said to a few friends we are having a cake in the house this afternoon if you want to come over. A few games in the garden, and some fizzy orange too of course, if you were lucky. And then goodbye and good luck, and the kids went home, happy and tired, with no one asking for loot bags!
Nowadays, though, kids seem to expect a bit more, so it pays to be prepared.
#1. Check School Policy
For example, our school does not let children hand them out in the classroom but are okay with parents handing them out at the school gate. This is fine if you or your childminder collect your kids from school, but can be difficult if your kids go to after-school, or get the bus.
It can also be awkward if you are not inviting the whole class, as even parents can be sensitive sometimes!
Texting is a totally acceptable way to invite children to a party, so my tip would be to get as many phone numbers as possible from parents in your child’s class at the start of the year. If you have a class rep, maybe ask them if they could help get a list together, that could be distributed to all the parents. This is handy when you want to organise play-dates too.
Download the free Mykidstime Guide to Party Ideas for Kids Birthdays and Celebrations.
#2. When to Invite
Not everyone will be able to go but sending invites out any earlier can cause confusion. (My friend, who shall remain nameless, but you know who you are, once dropped her child off at the party house a week early!)
Children get very excited about being asked to a party, so early invites can cause endless hours of explaining that they have to wait 20 sleeps, which just seems so long, when you’re young!
You may also like – Only Birthday Party Checklist You Will Ever Need
#3. What to Include on the Invitations
There are a few items you should always include on your invitations:
- Time – Start and End time
- Request they RSVP and provide number if you are not sending by text.
- Ask if any of the children attending have allergies/intolerances /customs(i.e. they don’t eat pork or beef)/vegetarian. This information may affect what you serve and it is better to know in advance so you are ready to cater for everyone attending.
- If you are having a theme be sure to include that too to give children an option of dressing up accordingly.
You may also like – Tips for Parties with Allergies
#4. Who to Invite
This can be difficult in the first few years when the BFF changes on an almost daily basis. You may also have to consider preschool friends, neighbours and family, who want to celebrate with the birthday child.
There are a few options open to you:
- Decide on a number of school friends that is acceptable to you and your child, and just ask those children to the party. If it is a small number, you could ask other friends, neighbours and family too.
- For juniors, if it is early in the school year you could forget the school party and just ask preschool friends, neighbours and family. As kids get older, this may not work.
- Invite the whole class, I know this may sound extreme, but a good way to do this is to double up with another parent whose child is born about the same time and halve the cost between you.
- Have two parties, one for school friends and one for other friends, neighbours and family. Do one out and one at home to cut down on the stress and cost!
#5. What To Do
Should you have the party at home, hire an entertainer, run it yourself or book somewhere away from the house?
This is only something you and your child can decide.
Factors to consider include:
- Size of group – is your garden / house big enough to accommodate everyone? If you are going to a party venue, what is the cost going to be.
- Time of year – what is the weather going to be like, if they can’t all be outdoors, will you be able to cope? Does the venue have indoor and outdoor facilities?
- Location and Time – if you are having a Friday evening party on the other side of town will this be difficult for parents to get to and from? Could you get a venue closer to home or consider having the party when there will be no rush hour traffic. If parents work or have older children, will they easily be able to get their child to and from the party? Not your problem, I know, but good to consider when picking a time and location.
- Help – if you decide not to hire an entertainer or go out, are you going to be able to entertain and feed everyone or do you need help? Even if there are two of you in a party venue, it can be hard to manage a large group of children who all want the bathroom at different times! Older children can be great helping with younger children or organising games and makeovers etc. Consider asking another parent to stay and help.
- Other Parents – if you are inviting younger children, have you considered that some parents may want to either stay with their child, or be close by to them? Have tea/coffee and some biscuits on hand or try and pick a venue that has shopping or a café where parents can go.
In terms of keeping the kids entertained if you do host at home, you may find these useful:
- 10 Top Tips if Holding Child’s Birthday Party At Home
- 10 Great Birthday Themes for Kids & More Ideas for Boys and Girls
- Awesome Lego Party ideas
- Minecraft Party Ideas
- Frozen Themed Party
- 15 Fun Toddler Party Games
- 11 Easy Creative Craft Ideas Perfect for Parties
- Sleepover Party – How to Survive & 11 Fun Sleepover Party Games
- 20 Excellent Party Ideas for 6 – 12 yrs
- Party Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers & Toddler Party Games
#6. What to Eat
It’s all well and good thinking kids should eat those lovely crustless cucumber and salmon sandwiches, but they will most likely just turn their noses up at them instead, and you will be left with a piled-high plate of soggy sandwiches!
Serve up homemade chicken/fish goujons for hot food as most kids eat them, and my experience has also taught me to limit the amount of sugary sweets available to ensure the party stays relatively calm! Here are some party food ideas:
- 15 Guilt Free Party Food Ideas for Kids
- Easy Party Food for Kids with Allergies
- Frozen Party Food Ideas
- 8 of the Coolest Frozen Party Cakes
- 12 Brilliant Birthday Cake Ideas
- Party Food for Toddlers to Munch On
This can be a tricky one. Children love to get parcels wrapped up that they can open but if we are all being honest, the job of trying to find a present for a child you don’t know well, can be a bit of a chore.
They can only use so many craft sets, you have no idea what books they like or have already, and if your children are anything like mine, they are rarely helpful with suggestions!
Maybe ask your school Parent’s Association or class rep to consider a €5 present policy for children in the class. So every child who wishes to give a present, puts €5 in a card or they buy a present for €5 or under. This will only work if all the parents (a) know about it and (b) stick to it.
Gift vouchers are also a good idea as children get older, for book-stores, fashion or sports stores and phone credit and i tunes vouchers are always well received!
#8. Party Loot Bags
Do you have any great kids party tips? Please share them in the comments box below.