How can I plan the best birthday party for my kids?
I can only imagine the time constraints and pressures that parenting brings. Sometimes I pat myself on the back for what I achieve in a day, occasionally on the odd day off, I manage to do some exercise, cook healthy food, clean up straight after all my meals, make 3 cups of tea, put up a shelf (this happened yesterday) and perhaps get round to writing a blog post like this one. I struggle to visualise having to get 2 little people out of bed and dressed and off to school on time and then having to go to work and do it all again at the end of the day. So when it comes to birthday parties, I take my hat off to you parents and admire your dedication to delivering such happy memories for your little ones.
I haven't thrown any children's parties myself yet so this may seem like a slightly patronising post, but I thought I would share from my experience of seeing hundreds of parties first hand.
Some handy hints for planning the best possible children's party
If you think this article is useful in anyway then I guess it's worth the time it's taken me to write it and i'd love it if you could pass it on to any potential party planning parents! I love alliteration and that was a good one!
Plan early for party perfection or be prepared to go with the flow
There seems to be two types of birthday mum that I come across as a children's entertainer. I'm not saying either are better they just have different approaches to planning a party.
You have the mum that books very early 6 months in advance probably emailing me in downward dog whilst reading with her children like some sort of super mum with some serious organisation skills and you have the relaxed mum that phones me up a little panicked with 3 weeks before the party wondering if I'm available. Unfortunately most entertainers at this point will be booked up, but you never know if you're flexible with your timings, we will always be grateful to squeeze you in.
Organised mum has everything planned to perfection with matching circus themed plates and red noses for all the children with a fantastic outfit for birthday child. Last minute mum might just have red plates instead of candy stripe ones. Those little details are purely finishing touches, none of the children are going to notice, your friends aren't bothered. The end result is the same, your child has all their friends around them for a day of pure excitement and play! Don't sweat the small stuff!
Choose the best venue to host your perfect kids party
Personally I like village halls or community centres with plenty of natural light. Obviously you have to work with what you've got in your area but do have a good hunt around, I've heard the variation in prices of hall hire and it can be quite staggering even in the same area. Your local school might be willing to hire the hall out for a reasonable price and scout huts are another less obvious venue option.
Check what's included in the venue hire. Most venues should supply you with tables and chairs, if there is an urn for easy tea's that's always a bonus. Be prepared that you probably have to take your rubbish away with you.
Also it's worth considering that any mess made will have to be cleared up so whilst candy floss might seem like a good idea at the time it can be a nightmare to scrape off the floor or indeed the kids hair.
If you're booking a party with ourselves we request nice high ceilings a minimum of 3.6m if you want to book trapeze but it's as much for our juggling as anything.
Money Saving Tip
Some venues charge by the hour. If that's the case and it's a useful saving to you, we can be in and set up in half an hour and also unpacked in half an hour. Generally we get there an hour before but if it makes it easier for you we can do it super quick.
Get invitations out early and with all the correct information
With all the children in the class there's bound to be the odd birthday clash, you will likely know from an early age and you can avoid party clashes with a quick chat in advance before any proper planning takes place.
Ensure adequate information is on the invitation, include mobile number for RSVP's or last minute drop outs and make sure to include the postcode for venue and I'd also be tempted to suggest putting the start and finish time in bold.
As part of booking us as your children's entertainers you get a free invitation design as exampled below. I've made a note of the times being in bold because at a party recently the best friend of the birthday girl turned up bang on the end of the party. They thought it was 3-5 not 1-3 which was a real shame.
Get your kids involved in the planning and preparation stage
I love nothing more than seeing children diligently helping out at the start of the party. It's a great way to occupy them while you get everything else in order. Set them on assembling the party bags or laying the table. This is all age dependent of course but for the 6 or 7 year old it's a great way to make them take extra responsibility for the party and realise how much work you're putting in.
I've even been to a party where the birthday girl made canvas party bags as a summer holidays craft project. I believe they were bag making kits purchased from hobby craft and printed with a circus design. What a fantastic way to get double value out of your party bags as a wet weather entertainment option for the summer.
Assemble a team of gal pals and dad lads
One thing you don't want to do is spend your whole party in and out of the kitchen fetching people drinks. Share the workload amongst a group of close friends or there may well be a couple of dads who really aren't into watching the party and would rather make tea. Make use of them. I want you to enjoy the party as much as your kids do.
When it comes to clean up this is where you need your elves to really get to work as a group. Let the kids carry on running around for another 20 minutes whilst you and your team quickly and efficiently get everything ship shape. I like the way I see at every party there's always a group of helpful friends that get stuck in and I assume this reciprocates around the parties.
Know your strengths and where to delegate - Birthday Cake Dilemma?
Delegating a few tasks is always sensible but I would say the birthday cake is a good example to pull out here. If baking isn't your strong point then there's no need to enter into the arena of putting your bake in public site. Keep that for pride of place on a quiet Sunday afternoon where you don't mind eating a slightly under cooked concoction.
You could support your local bakery with a project or indeed you might have a friend that's an enthusiastic baker and would take great pleasure in doing your child's birthday cake. Either as part of starting a small business or hobby baking. My mum made this incredible cake for our nieces joint birthday party but she didn't have to think about anything but the cake so she had time to put the love and attention that she wanted to.
Perhaps you have a friend who dabbles in children's parties as well. Just because you've booked us as the entertainment doesn't mean they can't make a huge impact on the party. Look at this fantastic effort that was put on by a friend of the birthday mum at a children's party we did in Essex.
Want to avoid the big cake drama all together? Below is an example of using many cupcakes to create the birthday number and no messing around cutting the cake! Saves you a big job and I guess is easier baking? You tell me.
My favourite thing i've seen at two parties now and I believe has been mostly found on Pinterest. Is cupcake popcorn using mini marshmallows which you can see surrounding the cake here at this wonderful children's party.
Choose your entertainment with age of kids in mind.
You should consult your entertainer for this if you're having one. You will know your kids best, some 4 year olds can sit still and enjoy a show for 30 minutes but other groups would find this impossible and it will make life difficult for the entertainers.
Please don't feel the need to book a bouncy castle if you're booking any type of a show as entertainment. It's really difficult to compete with the noise of the bouncy castle and almost impossible to keep all the kids off it. Children are easily distracted enough without having a huge colourful fun thing to play with. If you want to have a bouncy castle party, have it another year.
Things to consider and questions to ask when booking your children's entertainer
Contact the entertainer as a first priority.
I would always advocate booking the entertainer first, quite often people come to me with their venue and time booked and I'm not available that day but I can be the next but then they can't change the venue. I imagine an entertainer holds more importance than a specific hall. So do think about booking your children's entertainer first.
Make sure to read recent reviews on Facebook, Google or Yell.
We live in an age where our reputations are splashed across the internet so reviews are a very powerful tool in helping you choose your entertainer, that being said if you can speak to someone first hand or watch a video of them in action that will further help you with your decision.
Whats included in your children's party packages?
This helps you understand clearly what you are buying and prevents you from doubling up on entertainment. If for instance the entertainer already provides face painting you don't want to have paid another face painter.
How long will your entertainment last?
Important to understand whether a 2 hour package means 2 hours of entertainment or whether there's a time built into that for food and cake. For ourselves we run the entertainment for about an hour then break for 15/20 minutes for food and cake then right back to the action.
50% off the price of your party
And it's so simple, host a joint birthday party and split the budget with the other parents. Not only that but you can share the organisational stresses and divide the tidying up between two sets of dads. Maybe even 8 grandparents if you're lucky! A full blog post on this will be written at some point.
Last but not least - Enjoy the party
You've no doubt put a lot of hard work into the planning of this party and are probably at the end of a hard week of work, so do take the show in, after the performance give yourself 20 minutes to catch up with friends with a glass of Prosecco. Take lots of pictures but don't watch the party through your phone.