We all know that planning kids’ birthday parties can be fraught with stress and anxiety for the planner (read mother). Here are a few tips which should hopefully make the process a bit smoother.
1. Do include sufficient details on the invitation
You may have all the details etched in your memory but the invitation is usually the first time guests learn about the party. It is here where they find out what their child needs to bring to the party and whether or not a meal will be served to the kids. E.g. Indicate whether the party will be between mealtimes and whether only cake and beverages will be served. Parents can therefore plan meals beforehand, if necessary. Thereby avoiding a room full of cranky, hungry kids who were expecting something more substantial to eat.Invitations should also include any specific instructions related to your theme or any activities planned e.g. “Wear a princess dress” or “Bring a change of clothes as we’ll be having some messy fun!”.
Other things to mention:
- Several options for RSVP contact info
- Clear directions to the venue
- Indicate whether parents are required to stay. If not, provide clear instructions for drop-off and pick-up of kids.
2. Don’t expect everyone to RSVP
As the party host you have no control over whether or not parents choose to respond. The best thing you can do is make the RSVP options as painless as possible by including as many contact options as possible i.e. telephone as well as email address as well as a deadline date for the RSVP.
If not all of your guests have RSVP’d by the deadline date, maybe quick a courtesy call would be in order. We all know as mothers we tend to be forgetful and it may have slipped the parents’ minds.
3. Do plan for unexpected guests
Unexpected guests can throw a spanner in the works, especially if you’ve catered for a certain amount of people. Whether some guests fail to make an appearance or others arrive with additional kids in tow; baking a few extra cupcakes and throwing together some extra party packs could save you the anguish of scrabbling around to accommodate additional guests whilst the party is in full swing.
4. Don’t ask other parents to pay for activities
Parents who choose to host a party at a facility which offers paid-for activities are expected to cover the cost of such activities as well as the entry fee. If children are too young to be dropped off, you should cover the cost of at least one adult accompanying the child.
That being said, it is permissible to indicate on the invitation that you’ll be paying for 1 child and 1 adult so that parents are aware that they’ll have to cover the cost of additional parent and / or children.
5. Do provide food for the adults
The cost of hosting a kid’s party soon adds up and you can be forgiven for thinking that it would be okay to forgo providing snacks for the adults in attendance but alas, no. They are after all also your guests and it would be unfair to expect them to skip a meal to be at your party.
You don’t need to go out of your way with an elaborate meal for the parents in attendance; a few snack platters or even pizzas should suffice.
6. Do provide entertainment
The snacks and birthday cake are laid out; decor on point and you’re all set and rearing to go. But wait, what about the entertainment? Is it fair to expect your guests to entertain themselves for 2 to 3 hours? Even after all the singing, well wishes and eating, you have at least 2 more hours to entertain the guests.
Why not hire an entertainer for an hour or 2? Face painters and balloon modelers are ever so popular or maybe even a character who ties in with your theme. Party games are also very popular and inexpensive. (Keep an eye out for upcoming blog posts on age-appropriate party games)
7. Don’t limit the game prizes
Party games are a lot of fun for kids, and it’s fine to have winners, but the fun quickly ends when the winners are awarded game prizes while the remaining players are left empty-handed. Either eliminate game prizes, or use trinket prizes so everyone who plays can win a little something.
8. Don’t open the gifts at the party
Yes, it’s nice for parents to see the delightful expression of their child opening their gifts. it is however hard for the attending little guests to see all the awesome gifts that they will never play with. It’s also hard for the birthday girl or boy to walk away from all the lovely gifts that they cannot play with right then.
9. Do give out favours
Yes, you provided for the food, the entertainment and any other party frills that went along with your event. No, it is not mandatory to give out party favors. But it is a lovely gesture that will send kids who are disappointed to see the party end home with a little something to ease the pain of saying goodbye. It is also a nice way to thank them for coming and bringing a gift of their own to honour the birthday child.
Favour choices range from a simple candy bar to extravagant bags of themed treats. Choose whatever fits your style and budget and everyone gets to go home happy.
10. Don’t forget the Thank You notes
It seems like handwritten thank you notes have become a thing of the past, but if your guests took the time to come to your party and bring a gift, it’s nice to acknowledge them with a short note of gratitude.
If you choose to go with an electronic thank you, but want to make it more personal, include a digital photo of the recipient’s child enjoying herself at the party.