Planning and hosting a child’s birthday party doesn’t have to be stressful – it should be fun! What’s more, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here is a checklist of ideas and recommendations to make it memorable.
• Pick a venue
After deciding on the number of guests and working out your budget, choose a venue and book it as soon as possible.
An inexpensive option is to have the party at home or at your condo’s function room. However, for anything more than five children – especially if they are toddlers or preschoolers – make sure to enlist the help of other parents or domestic helpers. No one needs to face the daunting task of hosting more than five children on their own!
For older children, who require more space to run around in, consider an outdoor venue such as a park or playground where you can organise team games. Of course, you will need to have a contingency plan in case of rain, or make sure there is a large enough shelter nearby where you can continue the party.
If you’re not too keen on the idea of cleaning up afterwards, there are also plenty of child-friendly spaces available where you don’t have to lift a finger. For a large group of children, book a birthday party package with an experienced indoor entertainment centre like Go-Go Bambini , which can host up to 18 children from two to 11 years old. They can play within an interactive playscape filled with slides, tunnels and ball pits before gathering at the party room for finger food, cake and live entertainment. Themed packages such as the Absolute Super-Duper Party or Laser Tag Party take it up a notch on the fun scale.
Three’s a Crowd?
If you are worried that you might be biting off more than you can chew, good advice would be to invite the same number of young guests as your child’s age: five guests at a five-year-old’s party, for example.
• Set a theme
Setting a theme gives you a something to work around, from décor and dress code to food and games. Announce the theme in the invitation, whether it is An Expedition with Dora the Explorer, Swing Over for a Rumble in the Jungle or Under The Sea with SpongeBob SquarePants. Encourage the children to come dressed according to the theme and they will be in party mode even before they arrive.
Action heroes, dinosaurs and pirates are popular themes for young boys, but try to think out of the box for older boys. Themes such as Jungle Rumble or Super Spy allow kids to dress up in creative costumes, and the activities could include physical fitness tests, silly team games (egg-and-spoon race, scavenger hunt) or an obstacle course, great for an outdoor location.
While young girls will love Disney princesses and heroines, there are lots more options than just pink and more pink. Have a dress-up corner with old shoes, clothes and makeup samples for Future Fashionistas, or spread a chequered picnic rug where Junior Chefs can create their own edible masterpiece from plain cupcakes with lots of icing and sprinkles.
Kids in charge
Your child will probably be extremely keen to help, so take advantage of that. Let them write invitation cards, decorate the place, fill up goodie bags or help tidy the house.
• What’s on the menu?
A good way to enhance the party atmosphere is to tweak your menu to the theme.
Superman? Decorate cupcakes with white frosting and dark chocolate lines in the shape of a web. Animal Farm? Use cookie cutters make animal shapes from sandwiches. For older children, serve sparkling apple juice in plastic champagne flutes for a grown-up feel.
If you are planning to serve light snacks or finger food instead of a full-on lunch, make that clear in your invitation so the little ones won’t arrive starving. Take note of any dietary restrictions or allergies any of the children might have and prepare the food accordingly. Choose tasty, grab-and-go food such as veggie sticks and dips, popcorn chicken, mini sushi, pizza-on-a-stick or fruit sticks.
Instead of ending off with the usual ice cream or popsicles, why not go for no-fuss cake pops? These bite-sized fudge or sponge cakes coated in chocolate require no plates, forks or napkins and can be customised to almost any theme! We particularly love the Cute Cake Pops created by Nicky Hughes: Bob the Builder, Lego, Angry Birds, Princess, Fairies and even the lovable Despicable Me Minions. For children with allergies, chocolate-, gluten-, dairy-, egg- and nut-free cake pops are available too.
If you opt for a customised display base, cake pops can take the place of both a birthday cake and dessert, thus minimising the inevitable sugar high. Parents will surely thank you for that!
• It’s playtime!
It is a children’s party after all, so set aside ample time for games and entertainment to keep them occupied.
In addition to team games, crafty mums with a bit of time to spare can make piñatas and simple games like a pin the tail on the donkey.
For younger children, set 20 minutes aside for one or two organised team games before their attention span runs out, and then let them go free-and-easy on the bouncy castle. Bouncy Castles recommends multi-activity bouncy playpens or a combination of a ball pond, rocking horses and junior slides for toddlers.For preschoolers, you could hire live entertainers such as jugglers and magicians, or arrange for face-painting, balloon-twisting, story-telling or sing-along sessions. If you’re near a pool, hire a water slide or pool float for older children to splash about with, or a land-based bouncy castle with “obstacles” to keep them entertained. For more advice, approach Bouncy Castles with your budget, theme and age range of the children you are expecting and they will recommend the most suitable play equipment and entertainers for the best birthday party ever.
Don’t forget to charge your camera batteries! Take lots of pictures to document your child’s special day and to slip into thank-you notes after the party.