Kids birthday party planning guide

Organizing a kids birthday party can be daunting. A birthday party can also be very important to your kids. Here is a simple guide to help you with your child's birthday party planning.

Themes are fun

It is always good to have a theme for a kid's party. A good theme sets a structure that the rest of the party can work around. You can base things like food, party favours and activities around the theme of your party.

When choosing a theme, make sure the theme is appropriate for your child's age. Choosing a 5 year olds theme for a 12 year olds party is not going to go down well with your child and his friends.

To avoid choosing the wrong theme allow your child to decide the theme of their party. If you want the party to be a surprise look at what your child's most recent interests are. Remember children change as they grow up, so something that was perfect the previous year might not be appropriate this year.

Its all about the friends

You want your kids to play and have fun with their friends. Plan the guest list with your child. Start with the "Must invites" and the child's best friends. If you want you can invite additional kids and the friends your child sometimes plays with.

You do not necessarily have to invite children that invited your child to their parties. I believe the gift you gave the child at his party is sufficient and you don't have to give them a party payback invitation. As kids grow up their friendships also change so someone that was an important invite previously might not be as important this year.

As a rule I don't suggest handing out invitations in the classroom unless you are inviting the entire class. If you do decide to invite the entire class be prepared for a large number of kids. It's never a good idea to assume that certain kids are not coming. If you are not prepared for every kid to pitch up and they do then you might find yourself running around trying to make space and find extra food.

Getting help

Finding potential helpers is not very difficult. Often you might know somebody that is always willing to help. Potential helpers could also include other parents, neighbours, friends, family and paid professionals.

It always helps to make a list of tasks and try to pair the tasks with the appropriate helper. Sometimes a certain person might be perfect for specific tasks but cannot be trusted with other things. You might know somebody that is good with music or taking photos, but not with other things. By giving people tasks that they are willing to do and are good at makes it easier and they might be more willing to help. By having a list of what everybody is doing also helps you to keep track of what is being done and how much is left up to you.

Something worth considering is to invite your child's teacher. You will be surprised at how many kids want their teachers at their parties and how many teachers are willing to go to kids birthday parties. As they deal with kids everyday they can be very helpful. Before sending the invitation out check if your child is ok with it. Younger kids are more likely to want their teachers to come to their parties than older kids.

Entertainment and activities

When it comes to entertainment and activities, there are 2 ways you can go about it. You can decide to let the kids entertain themselves and let them play for the duration of the party or you can have a planned agenda.

A three hour party agenda might look like this:

Often people will not include free playtime at the party for fear the guests will get bored or unruly. This should not really be a concern as the free time is often when kids interact the most with each other.

I think a planned agenda is the better way to go. By dividing up the time into smaller manageable pieces you give the party structure and the kids tend to enjoy this more. You allow them to play and interact and also give them the opportunity to learn new activities.

Opening gifts at the party is optional. You might prefer to open the gifts later. If you do decide to open the presents at the party it's best to explain to your child that they should not make a big deal if they receive duplicate gifts or gifts that they don't like. Also remind your child to say thank you for each gift and maybe tell them what some appropriate responses would be.