There’s a lot to think about when hosting your kid’s birthday party at home. Having people at your house means organising the food, games and entertainment, as well as tackling other small issues you might not have even thought about.
I’ve held a few kids’ parties in my time and have learnt the hard way with some aspects, so now have it down to a well-oiled machine. From party etiquette to tasty bites, my tips will hopefully save you time, keep everyone amused and enable you to hold on to your sanity in the process.
A warm invite
Who to invite or not is a potential minefield, but you don’t have to invite the whole school class if you can’t fit them all in with other friends as well. What you definitely shouldn’t do though is invite almost everyone but leave a select few out as they’re sure to find out and feel excluded.
Just remember to put on the invite that parents are welcome or expected to stay, depending on how well you know them and how much help you feel you’ll need. And you also need to decide whether siblings are allowed as some people will ask to bring them if they’re staying at the party and don’t have someone else to look after them. The Party Pieces website is a great source for all things party, so you can get your invites from there along with decorations, party plates, hats, pinatas… the list goes on.
Preparation is key
On the big day before everyone arrives, put away anything precious – you might like to move your nice pale rug – and push furniture to the side of room so there’s lots of space for games and jumping around. If your garden is big enough and the weather’s decent hold the party out there, but either way don’t feel bad about keeping certain rooms off limits or having a no-shoes indoors policy.
People won’t all arrive at once so think of something for the kids to do before any entertainment begins. Younger kids will have great fun if you get some bubble wands or blow up balloons for them to play with, the likes of which they can home at the end too. For older kids, you could lay out some activities on a table or get a giant garden game like this connect4.
One other thing to think about is whether your child will be allowed to open presents at the party or after. If they can open them during the party be ready with a pen and paper to write down who brought which gift for thank you notes.
When you’re busy amusing the kids with games and party traditions, you won’t have much time to prepare food. It’s a good idea to get some freezer favourites in like pizza and curly fries – just pop them in the oven just before meal time. I defy a child not to like McCain Curly Fries, while you could also cook some frozen sausage rolls, mozzarella sticks and garlic bread.
To get some of their five a day in before the cake, prep some fruit or veg sticks ahead of time and keep them in the fridge. And speaking of the cake, after many birthday build-ups spent slaving in the kitchen, my advice is to buy one and instead spend your time meditating before the party onslaught!
Fun and games
You might have hired a magician, a balloon modeller or a bouncy castle, but in my view you can’t go wrong with good old-fashioned party games, like musical statues. You’ll need to do a few rounds to give everyone a chance so it’s best to keep prizes small. To hold the interest of younger kids who aren’t so statuesque when the music stops, give out some sweets for funkiest moves or liveliest legs.
And if you decide to play pass the parcel, my advice is to coordinate different wrapping papers with what’s underneath so you can make sure younger or older kids get appropriate prizes. You can also be gender-specific if you like.
So there you have it – a few top tips to help you keep your cool once your child’s birthday comes around. After all, we all know how quickly that can feel!