Children’s birthday parties can be delightful or disastrous. Usually, the most successful birthday gatherings for youngsters result from great planning and optimum preparedness.
Consider these nine practical pointers for hosting the best birthday parties for kids.
1. Skip the surprise.
Many seasoned birthday party hosts warn against planning surprise parties for young kids. Adults may find astonished amazement appealing, but children often do not appreciate such surprises.
Kids enjoy looking forward to their own birthday parties, perhaps as much as attending these events. Besides, most youngsters cannot keep secrets, so friends or siblings are likely to spill the beans anyway.
2. Count heads carefully.
Here’s an old rule of thumb, passed along by experienced parents. The ideal number of guests for a child’s birthday party matches the age of the birthday boy or girl. Thus, a five year old might invite five friends. Of course, this guideline may top out, as children grow older, depending upon available space and party budgets.
Certainly, some flexibility may be applied, particularly as birthday parties tend to have a few no-shows.
These numbers, of course, do not include the adult friends or family members who may be enlisted to assist with the celebration.
3. Pick your spot.
At-home birthday parties are in vogue again, although these festivities can take considerably more planning and effort than site-based events.
Still, popular birthday party venues for kids include bowling alleys, gymnastics facilities, horse stables, movie theaters, parks, petting farms, pizza parlors, swimming pools, roller rinks, and zoos.
4. Take on a theme.
Theme-based birthday parties are the rage for kids, usually tapping into the birthday child’s own interests. Favorite animals, cartoon characters, dinosaurs, space travel, and superheroes are frequent picks. Party hosts may adapt familiar party games, crafts, and menu items to fit their themes. Card stores and craft shops offer themed party goods, or creative folks can make their own.
5. Send invitations early.
Printed invitations are a must for children’s parties. Sure, gatherings for grownups may be announced by emails, Facebook posts, or text messages. But for kids, a mailed invitation card is de rigueur. Smart party hosts include maps or directions, as well as key details on the date, start and end times, and a phone number for replies. It’s a good idea to mention whether parents are invited to stay for the festivities, particularly for a very young child’s party.
6. Keep it simple.
The best birthday parties for kids need not be elaborate. In fact, a fun group of kids with a few good games and a craft can be just the ticket. Also, take-home bags are a nice addition, but these can be as basic as a balloon, tied to a small bag of candy.
7. Keep gift-opening under wraps.
Gift presentations are a traditional highlight of children’s birthday parties, but these need not lead to complete chaos, with youngsters crowding in to offer their packages all at once.
Here’s a simpler way. Guests may be invited to place their gifts in a large laundry basket, as they arrive. At opening time, children can be seated in a circle to watch the birthday child open one present at a time.
8. Keep track of cards.
A parent or adult friend can prove helpful by tucking gift tags or cards inside presents, as they are opened. As an alternative, a grownup might make a list of who-gave-what, just as folks do at baby and bridal showers.
9. Remember those thank-you notes.
Letters of appreciation for gifts are all too quickly becoming a lost art. Even the simplest post card can express a child’s thanks for a present. A thank-you note can be concise, but sincere.
Thank you for the _____________. I was glad you came to my birthday party. Didn’t we have fun? Your friend, ________
Some parents snap digital or instant photos of their birthday boy or girl with each guest, and perhaps each gift, so they can add these images as party souvenirs with short thank-you notes.
These nine steps can prevent plenty of scrambling and potential pitfalls, helping to make a child’s birthday party memorable for all the right reasons.