I have thrown many a party for my own son and for clients over the years. I think one year I did 54 in total which is quite a few children to have sent home with tired dancing feet and a balloon.
So from a personal perspective what works and what doesn’t. Of course every child and situation is different and you know your child but these are the things I would keep and avoid.
Plenty at 20:
Avoid inviting too many children. I know it’s hard to reduce a class full of children down to your ‘plenty at twenty’ but it really is in the interest of birthday girl or boy? How can they possibly engage with 30 friends in the space of a 2 hour period and not get over hyper, tired, stressed and wired? It’s more stress for you and the little one will be glad for fewer faces.
Less is more:
The best parties are the ones where one or two simple activities are organised rather than running ragged trying to do a million things at once. My preference is for a quality entertainer for about an hour then a lovely birthday tea. Take time over the tea and make that the main part of your celebration. Let the children help you prepare it or lay the table, cook sausages and marshmallows on an open fire. And my hard and fast rule is ‘always eat the cake together’. Come on mums, be honest. Do your children eat that slice of cake stuck to the napkin three hours later when it’s stuck to your car seat?
Avoid having umpteen shop-bought decorations. Why not involve your child in preparing for the big day. Make your own bunting, banners and pom-poms and focus on one or two key areas for the decor. Splash out on some lovely balloons which always create a sense of occasion.
Make and Play:
If your children are old enough to enjoy a craft then get them to make their own take-home favour. Successful one for me have been shields, decorated treasure boxes, decorated goblets and Super-hero pants as well as fairy garlands for the hair, bird feeders and puppets.
Involve the Parents:
How about ‘dads and lads’ games and family teams? Or at the very least a Hokey Kokey should be enjoyed by all. The children delight in seeing their parents in this new light guaranteeing smiles all round.
Make it Wild:
This is my favourite concept. Take your children on a party walk, a treasure hunt around your park or village. Forage, make bows and arrows, home- made perfume from flower petals or decorate leaves with shiny glitter.
Do your children leave the party teary, tired and on the edge of a tantrum? I always try to end with a little story. You could just chat a little about the day and what was special or you can read a story from a book. Either way it’s a lovely way to end two hours of festivities and the children leave with a magical ending.