Everyday is a great day to have a party

Tips for Perfect Birthday Parties

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Everyday is a great day to have a party especially if you can have fun doing it! Parties should be enjoyable not only for your child and their guests but also for you.

Planning a child’s birthday party can feel like one of the most stressful tasks in a parent’s life! Whether it’s creating the guest list, selecting a venue, deciding on a theme and what to serve, or deliberating over the perfect loot bag, parents can find it a serious challenge to plan their little one’s celebration. Expectations to throw a unique party seem greater today than when most of us were young, but with that we also have more choices for great places to host our parties then ever before.

Below are some helpful tips to keep your party manageable, yet flexible.

Know your budget: Make sure that you have a budget in mind. This way you won’t go overboard by spending more than you are comfortable with.

Start planning early: To avoid disappointment in booking a venue, or an entertainer, it’s important to start planning a month or more in advance. When you look at your calendar to pick the party date, don’t try too hard to make everyone happy, instead select the day that’s best for you and your family! Deliver your invitations a month before the big day.

Invitations: Before you decide on what type of invitations you are going to send out, sit down and make a guest list. A good guideline to follow is to invite one guest for each year of your child’s life or one for each year plus one (although this never happens when I’m planning one of my parties!). On each invitation state who the party is for and their age, the party location, date and time, any special instructions, what will be served and any RSVP information. It can also be helpful to insert a note about your child’s interests to help guests when gift buying.

Make a list: Keep an up to date “TO DO LIST”. On this list make sure you note the following; invitations, decorations, party favours (loot bags), prizes (if you are having games), cake and other foods (remember plates, cutlery, candles and napkins), camera, activities & supplies for your activities. Don’t forget to have cash on hand for any entertainers or party venue fees you need to pay on the day of your event.

The Big Day! A simple timeline for a 2 to 3 hour party

Arrival: 15 minutes. Parents of younger children may choose to stay with their child, if you are hosting your ‘do’ at a party venue check the rules regarding maximum allowable guests. For little ones under the age of 5, you should feel comfortable asking parents to stay, this is a good detail to clarify when parents call to RSVP. When guests first arrive plan for 15 minutes of free play, a game or activity. Crafts give children who don’t know each other well a chance to sit and play together.

Special Activity: 25-45 minutes. A puppet show, a special performance by an entertainer or an activity planned around the party theme. Consider a magician, clown or face painter to keep the kids occupied. A dress-up party can have a musical parade of costumed guests, a teddy bear picnic is a must at a teddy bear or pyjama party and a treasure hunt is perfect fun at a pirate party. Use your imagination to come up with unique ideas to suit your group.

Food & Refreshments: 15-30 minutes to serve food, cake and refreshments – consider using paper plates and cups to make clean-up quick and easy.

Organized Games: 20 to 40 minutes (depending on age level). This is the time to pull out the Pinata, or gather the kids for an egg and spoon race! Games are great for older kids, they love a challenge and some healthy competition. Pass the parcel and musical chairs are popular games but use caution with younger children who may end up in tears if they lose.

Presents and goodbyes: 20-30 minutes. There are two sides to the debate of opening presents with everyone still present and accounted for. Sometimes kids will get really ‘crazy’ and parents’ may lose track of which present came from whom. On the flip side, party guests can feel a sense of pride by being able to pass their gift to the birthday boy or girl and share in the excitement as the gifts are opened. The choice is totally up to you and your child.

Party favours: Every kid loves a loot bag – they are a necessity at any party and are great for every age. All goodie bags should be the same size and colour to avoid any conflicts. Opinion on how much to spend per loot bag varies, and quality vs. quantity should be considered. Loot bags should be given as guests are leaving to avoid disappointment for anyone who may leave an item behind.

What to pack? Kid and parent friendly loot bags can include stickers, markers, crayons, balls of any kind, any type of fun arts and crafty items. Steer clear of toy weapons, noisy gadgets, battery operated items and anything deemed not suitable for children. Avoid filling your bags with candy, consider alternatives like fruit snacks, granola bars or even individually wrapped cookies. If you have a child with a nut allergy attending your party take the time to find nut free products for everyone’s loot bag. There are a number of local companies that create fantastic custom ready made loot bags, a route well worth considering when lacking time or creativity.

Thank You’s: The party was a great success, but your work is not yet done, thank you cards to your guests are a must! Try to send out cards with a personal note of thanks within two weeks of the event. This is a nice project to involve your child in and can help them appreciate the gifts they receive.

Remember, the secret to a successful, stress-free party is all in the planning! Relax, enjoy yourself and remember why you are planning the party in the first place…to celebrate one of the best days of your life…when your child was born!


Written for Child’s Life by Markham Mom Gail Cheung

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