Having a birthday party? Here are some tips…

Jan 14 • Featured, Uncategorized • 1001 Views • 9 Comments on Having a birthday party? Here are some tips…

We've got a birthday in our house next week – thankfully we're at the stage now where the party is the easiest thing in the world: a sleepover, video games and a dvd, pizza, maybe some 'midnight feast' snacks. But it wasn't so long ago that we were having to come up with inventive ways of entertaining 20 or so kids for two hours. So here are my top tips for throwing the perfect child's birthday party – please feel free to add your own!

1. Decide on a venue. House parties are easiest for little ones, but if you're worried about the mess then your local school, sports centre or church hall can probably be hired out quite cheaply.

2. Choose a theme. Not so important when the kids are nursery/reception age, but after that a really good idea. Fancy dress, wizards and witches, Ben 10, Harry Potter, Hannah Montana – whatever your little darling and their friends are into.

3. You need some sort of entertainment, but it doesn't have to cost the earth. For little ones, traditional still works – so pass the parcel, musical chairs, pin the tail on Peppa Pig, a sweet-stuffed pinata, etc. Ignore your inner Competitive Mum – just because Lucy had pony rides, a carousel and a ride in a hot air balloon doesn't mean you have to do the same. My brother-in-law has always done homemade puppet shows – he sets them to chart hits and the kids love them. A disco will also work, karaoke if your head can take it, or you can make your own football party. If you do want to spend a bit more, soft play parties are always popular with younger ones, cinema outings can be fun from about the age of 6, or when they're a bit bigger, go karting, bowling, laser quest or paintball.

4. Don't get too stressed about the food. The honest truth is that kids don't want to spend an hour sitting down to a lavishly prepared tea. They want to get up and run around and cause havoc. So a few sandwiches, grapes, carrot sticks, and cherry tomatoes (so it seems a bit healthy), crisps, some fairy cakes and of course the birthday cake (if you want a recipe for a super easy one, click here).

5. Going home presents should be cheap and cheerful (and you don't need them past the age of 10). One simple toy, some sweets, a blower/bubbles, a slice of cake.

Finally, send out the invitations 2 weeks in advance, and if you haven't had an RSVP don't be afraid to ring up and ask. Some parents are incredibly lax about replying to invites which can be incredibly annoying if you're trying to work out numbers. If you're guilty, take note!

written by Liz Jarvis


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9 Responses to Having a birthday party? Here are some tips…

  1. Naomi Richards says:

    Give uot party cake after main meal – pasta or sanwiches and dont bother with party bags just give each child the gift and a small piece of chocolate to take home. Its easier and quicker that way

  2. sam says:

    Up to now birthday parties have been relatively easy- a whopping great inflatable slide plus family and lots of kids and a BBQ. But this year my son turns six and I’m guessing things are going to have to change a bit. He’s seen so many entertainers over the years – he could do the routine himself! Cinema however might be an option. The trouble is there’s so much to choose from nowadays from golf to go-karting and adventure play to wildlife walks, but I still feel the difficult age is around six to eight when they’re too little for the adventurous stuff and too old for the traditional jelly and fairy cakes party from home. For me, planning ahead is absolutely the key. I have had too many birthdays that have just been a last minute mad rush. Thankfully I have until June to arrange so your handy hints and tips will give me something to to think over – am determined not to do the same again (too stressful!).

  3. Emily O says:

    Some great ideas, I can see parties becoming trickier as the children get older!

  4. Bump2Basics says:

    My mom used to do scavenger hunts at my birthday parties when we were 7/8ish….best if you have a bit of space (indoors/outdoors). Kids were divided in two teams and both had separate clues to follow. Each team gets a prize at the end after making their way through all their clues and it kept us entertained for a while! The weather we’ve been having lately might not lend itself to this plan though….will we ever see a dry/sunny day?!

  5. Tara@Sticky Fingers says:

    I recently held a party for 9 seven-year-old boys at our house (I know!) and by far their favourite game was where i put clues into blown up balloons. They had to answer a question and if they got it right they could burst a balloon, read out the clue and use it to find their ‘prize’. Watching a bunch of boys ‘trying’ to burst a balloon was just hilarious and had the added benefit of wearing them out!

  6. Jayne Howarth says:

    One thing I found particularly useful was this: instead of making mounds of different sandwiches, cakes etc, I sent out a menu from which the children chose their food (ham sandwich, honey or cheese; crisps – whatever flavour they wanted, wotsits etc; juice). They ticked what they wanted and I made up a picnic bag, using those brown bags you get from sandwich shops. My daughter decorated the bags and put their names on. Everything got eaten and there were NO leftovers. The girls felt very grown-up, too. Of course, I did put a selection of biscuits and grapes out, but the bulk was what they had chosen. Hope this helps!

  7. Victoria says:

    We’ve done an obstacle in our small London garden, which is usually fun. We time them to see how fast they can do it. We’ve also done treasure hunts. Anything with sweets goes down well: pinata, eating licorice laces without hands, guess the flavour of the jelly bean. One of my favourite parties was a gruesome themed one near Halloween with spaghetti intestines and jelly brains. Foodwise, I usually do them a simple proper tea like sausage and chips, particularly if it’s after school. It’s easier to prepare than sandwiches and always gets eaten.

  8. Chris says:

    Your stories are always so timely Liz! My son’s 4th birthday is tomorrow. We are taking 20 kids to the local fire station (for FREE!). They give them a 45 minute tour and let them sit in the truck and spray the hose. What more could a 4 year old want?! Then Pizza at a local restaurant where they can run around. Simple and not outrageously expensive. Perfect.

  9. Magic Mummy @ Frugal Family says:

    We’ve just booked the local Wacky Warehouse for my little boys fifth birthday party…. Now we just have the traumas of who to invite! My daughter is 8 this year so I think her parties will be a little more low key from now on – sleepovers and trips to the pictures I think 😉


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