By Leenika Belfield-Martin
You’ve sent invitations, bought decorations, made a list (and checked it twice) … now you’re ready to throw your child the best birthday party of the season. But, the biggest task has yet to begin: hosting the party. Find out how you can make sure that your guests will be entertained.
Think about a theme
Keeping in mind your party’s theme is a great way to help you stay organized and add some flair to the activities. Turn simple activities into exciting entertainment by incorporating the theme into them. For example, “pin the tail” on the donkey can be morphed into “pin the patch on the pirate” for a pirate-themed birthday.
Keep the structure simple
What kids are going to be able to bounce on a moon bounce, get their face painted, play six different games and eat pizza all within a three-hour period? No one. Don’t overwhelm your guests with too many things to do. Avoid activity overload by keeping your party activity schedule straightforward and easy.
Listen to your child
Your child knows exactly what his or her friends enjoy doing and what activities they dislike. Let your child provide a list of suggestions for activities. You may not be able to accommodate all their requests, like booking a favorite musical artist for entertainment, but the experience will give you a feel for what activities your child’s peers like to do.
Set a schedule
Schedule what you plan to do with your guests a week before your event. Your schedule doesn’t have to be too structured. Kids lose attention quickly, so most activities should last only about 30 to 40 minutes. If your activities are outdoors weather permitting, make sure to have a plan B for alternate indoor things to do. Classic party games make a convenient alternative.
Don’t forget to delegate
Lift the weight off your shoulders by putting together a “party crew” of family members and friends to help you on party day. By delegating tasks to your party crew, you’ll free up your time to host. Having the parents of your child’s friends stay for the duration of the party can also help things run more smoothly. Just be sure to have enough food and drinks for your adult guests!
When in doubt, dance it out
How do you deal with the awkward transitions from one activity to another or a waning lack of interest from the kids? Turn on some tunes and let the music work its magic. You can have your little ones help you pick out a few trendy songs beforehand, or you could use child-friendly party playlists that music streaming services offer.
What about a movie?
Wind down a party with a movie. Pick three or four options for kids to vote on, then turn on the movie while you begin the cleanup. Don’t forget to pop some popcorn and get some blankets together to make the experience as cozy as possible.
Don’t forget to keep your cool. Your attitude and enthusiasm set the tone for the vibe of the party. Your child and their friends probably won’t remember the little bumps in the road that happen along the way, but they’ll remember the joy they’re celebrating at your party.
Additional Party Tips:
- To make sure everyone feels like a winner, avoid competitive games at a party. If there are prizes, find a way for every kid to get one.
- Tailor classic party games to your child’s party theme. Play musical towels at a swim party. Try pin the patch on the pirate for a swash-buckler’s spectacular.
- Bringing party professionals in to lead the fun can keep children occupied and give parents a break from working the party. Consider balloon artists, magicians, musicians and storytellers. Fees vary depending on the entertainer and length of time you select. Look for entertainers who let the kids get involved. For example, you may want to ask a magician to provide a scarf and magic wand for each child so that the magician can have kids follow along with a simple magic trick.
- Hosting a party at a venue other than the home has its advantages and disadvantages. One benefit is that party venues like children’s play gyms, sports venues or art organizations can most likely offer activities suited for a children’s party. Sports-themed venues, such as miniature golf courses or batting cages, are ideal for large groups. Art workshops or paint-your-own-pottery experiences may be suited to smaller gatherings.