Arranging a child’s birthday party can seem like a nightmare, however, it can also be a pleasant experience for all, just try following a few of the tips below.
The first thing to consider is a suitable venue. You can have your party at home or at another venue, a party at home is of course the cheapest, but remember to put your Ming vases and oil paintings away safely first, and try covering any expensive furniture with bed sheets or dust covers. You won’t want to over invite for a house party so, for a small three bed roomed house I would suggest limiting your party to about 15 children. Some people have their parties outside, but you should prepare in such a way as you can continue indoors if the weather turns bad.
If you wish to have a party at another venue, then there are a number of different types of venues available. Leisure Centres, Pubs with a suitable license, Sports and Social Clubs, Community and Church Halls. Of these, as a general rule, church halls are amongst the cheapest. This is because their charitable status and the fact that they have been paid for years ago makes them highly competitive. But do shop around, sports and social clubs are also very cheap but you will normally need to join. If you join as a social member, then you will have to fill out a quick form and pay a small fee.
Remember to make sure there is a kitchen you can use and find out if you need to purchase tokens for the electricity. This is often the case with some of the older halls. Make sure there is a good heating system in place if you are having your party in the winter. Other things to think about are parking and safety – not near a main road which children can run out onto! Also try to avoid a lot of steps and stairs as you will have a lot to load and unload plus you may have someone with a disability or an elderly person arrive with a child.
Children’s parties can be arranged at any reasonable time, most of the weekend parties take place around lunchtime starting at about 12.30 or 1300. If you are having an after school party, bear in mind that some of the children will go home from school to change first before attending a party even though you may plan for an early start straight after school. It is rare to have everyone turn up for an after school party by 16.00 but by 16.30 they will usually have all arrived. Parties booked during the summer holidays are generally less well attended especially if the weather is fine! Of course this doesn’t apply when most of the guests are members of the extended family and close friends.
A well written invitation puts a bit of class into your event and will both improve the response and minimize any misunderstandings. Put the address of the party venue on the invite, and remember the post code for the sat navs, especially if the venue is difficult to find. Your landline number, mobile number and of course e-mail address are of course, essential. Another useful tip is to put RSVP to confirm by…….., and put a date about four or five days before the party, it is important to gauge how many children are going to turn up, but whatever number you arrive at, add about five per cent for unexpected children. Also, if you are employing an entertainer or having a bouncy castle, say so on the invite to make it more attractive.
Decorations make a party, but again there is no need to go overboard, you can get some quite good deals at the pound shops. If you are in the UK, try Poundland and Wilkinson’s.
Some venues will not allow the use of drawing pins, so be sure to take some blue-tack or similar. It is also a good idea to put some balloons outside of the venue to make it easier for people to find. I would avoid party poppers for children’s parties. Standard balloons are always popular, and the big caterpillar ones go down a treat even though they are quite cheap. The flying balloons that buzz through the air are also a big hit. Avoid modeling balloons unless you know what you are doing. Don’t forget to purchase a balloon pump, the Qualatex ones, usually purple in color blow out air both when pushed and pulled and so will significantly reduce your blowing up time.
If you are having a children’s entertainer it is crucial that you choose one whose performance is suitable for the age and gender of your party. Far too much emphasis seems to be played on whether an entertainer is a good or bad performer and not enough on the suitability of his performance for that particular type of party.
For a seven year old boys party – think twice about having in the house unless you know the guests well -I would suggest a snake entertainer or someone who does lots of gory things. For a three year old’s party, a clown. For four to six, either gender, a magician. For older girls a magician who does card tricks and other types of close up magic. If you can get a face painter as well, all the better. When it comes to face painters you will need one who understands that you would prefer everyone receiving a small, quick one, and the birthday child having a full one, than some having a lot and others nothing. Unless it is a small party there is not usually time for everyone to have a full face paint.
There are two good ways to find out about your local children’s entertainers. The first is the internet and the second is the queue of parents outside your local school when they are waiting to collect their children. These parents have nothing to do and a conversation starter of this nature goes down well. The other is the internet, but be advised that website design and entertainment has little in common, a good site means nothing, except that it’s a good site. So just extract the necessary information from it and go with the parents whenever possible.
Always ask about a cancellation policy, you don’t want to lose your deposit over a case of measles or flu. Be aware that some entertainers like to add on extra charges once they are there, for example, for modeling balloons, so make sure the fee being quoted includes everything. Ask if they are VAT registered, if so, is the VAT included in the quotation.
Ask if music is included and if your child has a favorite CD, take it to the party with you. You could also take something relaxing to play whilst you tidy up at the end.
You would not believe how much food is wasted at children’s parties. If you ever wonder why so many children’s entertainers are overweight its because of all the left over sausage rolls and pasties they are given at the end of the parties!
Keep it cheap and simple: jelly, blancmange and ice cream are cheap and easy. Sausage rolls, sausages and oven chips also go down well. Diced cheese and pickles on sticks are popular. Don’t forget tea, coffee with sugar and milk for the adults who stay with their children. Ham or cheese sandwiches and biscuits will go down well here.
Try putting your food on plates covered with Clingfilm, put them out on the tables and remove the film only when you are ready for the children to eat. Another tip is to avoid surgery drinks before the entertainment, give the children a sugar free drink, then after the entertainment give them what they want. Some children react to sugar and your entertainer will have to deal with it!
The most commonly forgotten items are a cake knife and a lighter for the candles.
I hope the above advice will help you have a successful party. It really is very much easier than it sounds.