Top tips for planning a birthday party

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Parties are brilliant, but they don’t half cause stress when you’re the host. And when the guests might not even be potty trained and prone to sudden tantrums or clinginess, the stakes are quite high!

While FUN is foremost on the agenda, complication certainly doesn’t need to be. One thing you need to bear in mind for children between the ages of 1 and 5-years-old is that it’s unlikely your child will remember these early birthday parties. You will, however, so limit stress where at all possible.

In years to come you will undoubtedly experience the trials and tribulations of whole class parties vs. a select group of friends, boys vs. girls and ever increasing expenses including entertainers, musicians and day trips out. For now, while your child is still young, it’s best to keep parties simple for both of your sakes, not to mention for your bank accountג€¦

The wonderful ones

One-year-olds range hugely from still very dependent older babies to confident toddlers. As emotionally they can be quite sensitive, it’s best not to plan anything too overwhelming. The best solution for a first birthday party is to hold a little gathering at home, involving only a small selection of family members and close friends.

As it’s likely your child will still be sleeping during the day, plan the party accordingly around naptimes. As energy levels tend to drop dramatically after the initial excitement, limit the time to an hour-and-a-half. Toddlers of this age need very little in terms of formal party games, so the easiest solution is to set out a selection of age-appropriate toys for free play.

The terrible twos

Two-year-olds have a longer attention span, so why not arrange an outing to celebrate the occasion? Soft play areas have the benefit of being indoors, which takes a lot of the pressure off worrying about if the weather will be suitable for the occasion. Take a few close friends and their mums, then relax with a celebratory cuppa and enjoy watching your children wear themselves out before a nice slice of birthday cake.

The terrific threes

Bouncy three-year-olds love running around in the fresh air, so a great idea is a picnic somewhere nearby where there will be plenty of room to play. Ideal venues include the woods, playing fields or local parks with climbing frames and swings. As children of this age are fascinated by animals, you could also arrange a visit to an inexpensive children’s petting farm or zoo.

The fantastic fours

At the age of four, many children are either in pre-school or nursery, so suddenly have a lot more friends to contend with. Some parents opt for fully-staffed party packages at a nearby sports venue, town hall or soft play area ג€“ on one hand these are ideal as they take the headache out of the organisation and all your child’s friends can attend, but on the other hand, they are very expensive.

A cheaper alternative is to invite a smaller group of friends to your house, rent a bouncy castle if your garden has space, then play a series of traditional party games like pass-the-parcel, musical statues, pin the tail on the donkey and so on.

The fabulous fives

Party invitations come thick and fast when your child hits school age, and it can be a challenge to stand out among the rest. One thing that most children of this age love, regardless of gender, is dressing up. Let your birthday boy or girl choose their theme ג€“ this could range from pirates to princesses, or from animals to TV characters ג€“ anything goes.

Then plan your party around the theme, using appropriate invitations, food, decorations and games to match. Mini pirates can be made to walk the plank and search for hidden treasure, while little fairies can waft around a garden decorated with pretty ribbons and balloons, casting spells and settling down for a magical storytelling session.

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