Top Tips for Children's Parties
TERRY'S TOP TEN TIP FOR PERFECT PARTIES
Arranging a childrens party can be daunting but every child deserves at least one party to celebrate a 4th, 5th, 6th 7th or 8th birthday and with good planning you can create a special day that your child and their friends will always remember. How many childrens parties are you likely to run... its probably single figures? Well in over 20 years as a children's entertainer Terry has run thousands and he would like to share some of his top tips with you.
1. Choose the date early
Try and decide on a date around 6 - 8 weeks ahead. Check the date does not clash with any special events the children might be going to such as the school fete, school trip, cub camp etc.
2. Send out the invitations
Get the invitations out early. There is nothing more disappointing than making all the arrangements and having someone else get their invitations out before yours and pinching all your guests!
3. The Venue
Decide whether you are going to have the party at home or in a hall. The main things to remember here are:
If you decide to have the party at home., limit the numbers to fit the size of your room. Even if you want to have the party in the garden you will need a contingency plan in case of bad weather. You will also need a gazebo or awning for the children to sit under if it is very sunny. Children get very hot and irritable if they are in the sun for too long (not to mention the safety aspects; children burn very easily). Four and five year olds don't take up a lot of room indoors but as the children get bigger you either need smaller numbers or a bigger space!
If you decide to book a hall, check with the keyholder what time you can get into the hall to decorate the room and prepare the food and what time they need you to be out. You should also check if you are allowed to put up decorations and if so how? Many halls will only allow you to use blue tack, as pins & tape may damage the walls. Is there a kitchen to prepare food, is there a fridge and are there power points for music etc.
4. The Time
The general rule is the younger the children the earlier the party. There are two reasons for this. The first is that young children are usually at their best earlier in the day, as they get more tired they tend to get more emotional and more easily upset - this is not a good thing at a party! The second reason is for your own sanity - do you really want to hear "Is it my party yet?" from the minute they wake up until late afternoon? Nooooooooooo! Lunchtime parties are best for littlies - they are happier, calmer, they eat more and they have the rest of the afternoon to play with all the lovely presents they got and leave you in peace to recover. As they get older the parties can start later without these problems.
5. How Long?
Short and sweet! The best organized parties fill the childrens' time with fun activities. Left to their own devices things can quickly get out of control. A two hour party is an ideal length of time. Terry's recipe for a perfect party is 45 minutes of games 30 minutes for food and 45 minutes of magic. This suits the attention span of young children because it is broken up into small parts. Children will not want to do the same activity for 2 solid hours so whatever activities you decide on break it up and make sure there is some rest time built in.
6. Mixed Ages
A joint party with children of different ages can be great but will need careful planning. These parties work best when the older children feel like they are the grown up ones helping the little ones with the games etc. By helping the younger ones take part the older children soon join in and enjoy themselves. It doesn't work so well if you aim the whole thing at the older ones as the younger children will feel out of their depth and won't want to join in.
7. "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"
Some parents may want to stay with their child for the whole party and it is always useful to have extra pairs of hands. However, if lots of parents stay young children who are a bit unsure of themselves will tend to cling close to Mum or Dad and not want to join in. If possible encourage parents to drop the children off at the start time and pick them up PROMPTLY at the end time. Recruit family members and close friends as your helpers and the whole thing will go more smoothly.
8. Be Prepared!
Even the best run parties can have their problems so Be Prepared for any of the following: Spare pants and knickers in case of accidents. Children hate to miss the excitement and may leave it too late to go the loo. Regular toilet breaks are a must! A bucket and cleaning materials in case of sickness caused by too much cake and too much excitement. A first aid kit in case of bumps and bruises including: plastic gloves, plasters, a dressing, wipes and an ice pack or cold water for a compress. If you are not happy doing basic first aid yourself make sure one of your helpers is. Contact numbers for parents - particularly if it is an activity party e.g. ball pond, bouncy castle, soft play because accidents do happen and you may need to get hold of them quickly.
Prizes at parties are great ... until you don't win one ....which often leads to tears. When Terry started doing children's parties he did give prizes but over many years he discovered that the best way is to play them all for fun. That way everyone is happy, everyone joins in and everyone gets a party bag at the end! NO TEARS ONLY SMILES!!! Don't forget the children are still very young - there is plenty of time to learn how to win and lose but a party is not the best place!
10. It's All Over!
Have all your party bags ready, with a piece of birthday cake to take home. You will have reminded parents what time to pick up their child when they dropped them off so hopefully there will be no stragglers! Take home the presents unopened if possible so that you know who gave what and you can send them a thank you note - old fashioned but nice! Try to get most of the clearing up done while the children are being entertained and you will be ready to go / or stay home put your feet up and have a nice cup of tea ... or something a bit stronger.