Most parents would rather gnaw off their own arms than face the daunting task of hosting a kids’ party. Hence the trend to outsource parties to playcentres or indoor amusement facilities. I’ve done it. Were the parties successful? Sure. Were they especially memorable? Not particularly. Were they expensive? Absolutely. Throw in food and loot bags (don't even get me started) and these affairs can cost a (gnawed) arm and a leg.
A new trend for budget conscious families is the return to the “home party.” Old-school games, hot dogs on the BBQ, cake. These simple parties are the ones kids tend to remember. If your home is too small to host a party, you can easily host your party at a local park.
Who to invite? Inviting your child’s entire class is not always possible, nor desirable. If you’re inviting all the boys from the class, fine. The girls will understand and won’t likely be offended by not being invited to your son’s Minecraft party. However, if you’re only inviting a few of your child’s classmates, be considerate and try to keep invitations under the radar. I’m not saying you have to invite everyone. In fact, small parties of 3-5 guests is often the way to go -- more budget friendly and you can often do more. e.g. “Sleepover at the Science Centre.” Just be aware and discreet.
Preparation is the key to any successful party, kids’ and adults’ alike. Always plan MORE activities than you think you’ll need, but don’t try to rush through them. Start with the ones you really want the kids to try. Stay on track in terms of time, but if an activity is going well let it continue. If the natives become restless, cut your losses and move on.
1. Don’t go it alone. Have extra bodies around to help. Enlist your spouse, the grandparents, family friends to help out the day of.
2. Have a sheet for parents to sign as they drop off their child. Have them include their cell number (to call in case of an emergency during the party) and their email address so you can email photos from the party and/or a thank you card.
3. Don’t reinvent the wheel. The internet has millions of decor and game ideas, templates, recipes. Do the research and modify to suit your party.
4. Your job is not to impress the parents of the guests with fancy cakes and loot bags. Kids don’t care about those things. They are happy to eat a frozen Sarah Lee cake with sprinkles on top and eat chips straight out of the bag (funny enough, so am I!). This party is for YOUR child so just have fun. Keep that in mind, everything else will fall into place.
5. Reuse items or repurpose things you have around the house. For added touches visit the local Dollar Stores for things like coloured balloons, plastic table clothes, etc. I also share and borrow items from fellow mamas who’ve thrown similarly themed parties in the past.
The parties that stand out are often the most simple. It’s all about the atmosphere. If the hosts are relaxed and having fun, that’s a successful party. My husband participates in our children’s birthday parties. He got out on the field during a soccer party and played (hard) with the kids. They loved it. At a water party, he was the first to launch a water balloon. And at our Lego party, he was right there, building away. And that, in my opinion, makes a good birthday party, great.