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11 Easy Steps to Create the Ultimate Kids’ Birthday Party
Planning a birthday party for a child can be a stressful and time-consuming task, especially if it's your first time. Kids need to be constantly entertained, fed and monitored during a party, which is a lot for busy parents to do as well as hosting!
We have put together the ultimate list for preparing and hosting a children's party, with everything from invitations to game ideas. Read on to find our 11 easy steps to creating an amazing birthday party that can be enjoyed by all - even the parents.
Before the party
The keys to a stress-free children's party day are planning and preparation. The more you can get done in the weeks leading up to the event, the less you will have to do on the day.
1. Choose a theme - a handy way to help choose your birthday decorations, food and venue is to decide on a theme. Rather than going straight to your child and asking them what they want, come up with a few options and then give them the final say - this will avoid disappointment when an out-there theme is asked for that you can't possibly do. Popular themes include Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars or Disney Princess parties. Each of these have very defined styles that are easy to find or make. You will also want to define your budget, and decide how much you are willing to spend on this party.
A theme can inform birthday party decorations, costumes, music and even food. Decide early on how dedicated you want to go for your theme - Marvel-themed food could be tricky, and listening to your child's favourite Disney songs on repeat might get old, fast!
2. Pick a venue - decide early on whether you want to have the party at your home, a park or at a specific venue that you need to pay for. Parties at home or in a nearby park will be less costly but will require a lot more effort from you. Paying for a venue often comes with a host, birthday party decorations and food, but the price can rack up depending on how much you want to be done for you.
If you are choosing to book a venue, make sure you get your chosen date well in advance, as they are always busy. Keep in mind not all venues host private parties - some may have multiple parties going at once, which can make it hard to keep track of your guests.
3. Choose a date and time - this will go hand in hand with your choice of venue. Depending on the age of your guests, you may want to schedule the party earlier in the day so little ones have more energy and don't need to nap in the middle of the celebrations. If you don't want to be serving full meals, you can also make sure your party occurs between mealtimes.
Avoid public holidays, as many families go away during these times. A weekday night party will keep your weekend free, a Saturday party gives you the next day to recover, while a Sunday party gives you more time to prepare. Make sure your child's closest friends are free for your proposed date by checking with their parents first.
4. Send invitations - now that so many people have easy access to a smart device, it's easy to send an electronic invitation to the parents of your potential guests. Either create a digital one with an art program and email it to them, otherwise a detailed text message will get your information across.
If you want to get crafty and create your own invitations, consider your theme and how much time you are willing to spend on your invites. You can design and print off as many as you need, or even go full DIY and handmake each one!
We have a great range of pre-made cards you can use, which you can see here.
Make sure to set an RSVP date before the party to give you enough time for all your preparations.
You may even be able to have some parents help you out during the day - make sure to ask potential helpers well in advance as well so they can make time in their schedules.
5. Plan food and drinks - when you party, you get hungry. This is true for all ages, so make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand for your hungry guests. While time-honoured favourites like fairy bread, party pies and chips can all feature, parents will appreciate a few healthy options as well - try setting out carrot and cucumber sticks with dip, nuts and sliced fruit.
Speaking of nuts, find out early on if any of your guests have food allergies, and if so, either remove that food group from the party (if it's an extreme allergy) or provide plenty of other options (if it's only a mild reaction).
Try to premake as much of the food as you can and freeze it, or do the fresher things the night before. And speaking of food…
No children's party is complete without a birthday cake. You can choose to purchase a delicious cake from your local bakery, or even hire a professional to make one if you want to spend the money for it.
Making your own cake is always a fun option, plus it makes it a little easier to adhere to your theme if you have one. You can either make one big cake the night before and slice it up or create cupcakes for every guest. If you need baking supplies, Spotlight has everything you need for mess-free and easy baking. Or if you need some inspiration, check out our cake projects here!
6. Plan Games - keep your guests entertained with a variety of fun party games! Popular choices like pass-the-parcel (with a small treat in every layer) and a piñata can be made well before the event, making them good choices for less stress on the day (although keep an eye on the kids when that piñata breaks!). For quiet games, craft sessions based on your party's theme can also be fun, plus kids can take home what they create.
Make sure whatever games you decide to play have enough 'turns' or supplies for all kids to participate - you don't want anyone feeling left out.
7. Prepare venue and set up party decorations - whether you have a solid theme or not, make sure you have your birthday decorations ready to go well in advance. If you are hosting the party at your house, make sure anything breakable is stowed safely away, and if your child has any toys they don't want to share pack them away as well. If you aren't sure about the party decorations you want, we have a great range of both fancy and simple birthday decorations at home for you to peruse. Ensure parents know about parking near your home if they are staying for the party and have a space where they can leave prams if necessary. Decorate what you can the night before, then do what is left the next morning.
If you are having the party at a special venue, find out if you can go in early to set up your party decorations. Or if the venue is decorating for you, make sure you are happy with how their party supplies will be set up before the day arrives.
Birthday balloons are an essential component of any party, whether they are filled with helium, gathered in bouquets or just rolling around on the ground. If you want to save your breath, try using an electric balloon pump to speed up the process. Or if the hassle of pumping your own birthday balloons is too much, come to your local Inflation Station at one of our stores and we'll do the hard work for you!
On the day
It's the big day! You've done your prep and the guess will be arriving soon. Here's what you need to do before they turn up.
1. Finish decorating and set out food - whatever birthday decorations couldn't go out the night before, they go out now! It's also a good time to put the foods that don't need heating out as well. Make sure serviettes, cups and drinks are all within easy reach. Food that needs to be cooked can go in the oven, so it's hot right when you need it.
2. Set up a gift table - rather than have to accept and put away each present as your child receives it, have an obvious present table or area for guests to leave their gifts and cards. Make sure your child resists the urge to open their presents during the party, as it can lead to embarrassment if one gift is favoured over another. Plus if you are at an outside venue, it will make them easier to transport back home if they are still wrapped.
3. Set up music - your iPhone speaker won't be enough, trust us! Make sure you have speakers, a music player or some other sort of set-up for ambient tracks, and any games that require music as well.
4. Assemble your team - when your guests arrive, it's party time! Make sure you and any helpers you have wrangled know your roles, so the event goes perfectly. You might like to have one person supervising the food and drink, someone on party game duty and another cooking while you host and ensure the whole event runs smoothly.
Like any important event, there's always a chance something will go not quite right, so try to have a few Plan Bs in place in case a game doesn't work, something breaks or the weather turns.
If you need any extra supplies for your birthday party or just some inspiration, check out our party page here!