Whether it’s your child’s first birthday or their fourteenth, throwing parties for your children is always an exciting, joyous experience. No matter the occasion, friends gather around your child to socialise and celebrate, creating the perfect opportunity for precious memories to be made!
However, holding your child’s party at home can be slightly overwhelming. Depending on how generous you’ve been with the invites, the fact of the matter is you are going to be responsible for entertaining multiple children for several hours (perhaps even overnight, if you’ve agreed to a sleepover!). Luckily, the following seven tips and tricks will keep the fun to a maximum and the stress to a minimum.
The Littlest Parties
Around the ages of 4-6 years is roughly when most families start hosting their children’s parties. Prior to that the birthday boy or girl is either too young to understand what is going on or has the attention span of a goldfish and doesn’t really have the patience for traditional party games.
For your youngest ones’ parties, try hosting the event between the hours of 1 - 4 pm. This way, other parents won’t have to rush to arrive at your party and you won’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to set things up. This takes the pressure off them as well as you! This time frame also means you won’t have to provide a full meal. Your son or daughter’s little friends will have lunch at home, and you’ll only need to put out a small amount of party food for them to snack on. This saves their parents from having to contend with hyperactive, sugar-filled children later in the evening!
As the party starts to wrap up, consider reading the children a story as a group or popping a DVD on. At this age, it’s great to end a party with a calming activity, and you’ll undoubtedly be worn out from all the excitement yourself!
The Sleep Over
Everyone remembers their first sleepover! It’s a modern-day rite of passage. Depending on age, for some of your child’s friends, it may be their first night away from home. Be prepared for some nerves, or for homesickness to strike. This is where the organisation is key. Be sure to have the phone number of every parent in case of emergencies and be aware of all guests’ allergies and ailments beforehand. There will inevitably be a guest that forgets something, so it’s a good idea to purchase a few extra toothbrushes and have some spare pillows on hand.
The Craft Party
Having a craft-based party will go down a treat with most age groups, providing you pick age-appropriate craft (for example, do not attempt to do macramé with 7-year-olds, it’s way too ambitious!). Search for DIY craft packs online or at your local craft store. You can purchase them in bulk at relatively cheap prices, and your child’s guests will get to go home with something they made themselves instead of the usual plastic, party-bag paraphernalia.
It’s A Numbers Game
Unsure of how many children to invite? When your child is young, follow the rule of ‘their age plus one’. If your child is turning 4, for instance, let them know that they can have 5 friends attend their celebration. This should stop you from biting off more than you can chew, especially if this will be your first turn at hosting a party. And remember, if you invite more than half of your child’s school class to the party, you should be inviting everyone. You don’t want a small handful of children to feel hurt or left out when the rest of the class discusses the party on Monday.
Once again, it depends on your child’s age, but it can be best to save the gift opening until all your guests have gone home. Amongst younger children, gift giving can become competitive, and some guests may feel embarrassed if their gift does not seem as interesting or expensive as someone else’s. However, you know your child best, and if you trust them to open each present attentively and graciously then you can set aside some time during the party for opening presents.
Something for The Big Kids!
If other parents are staying to help supervise, or even just to socialise, make sure you’re prepared to keep them fed and watered as well. Firing up the barbecue is a great idea. This way, younger guests can tuck into the traditional sausage sandwich, whilst the adults can enjoy something more substantial like a steak or grilled fish with salad.
Games, Games & More Games
You can never have too many games planned. Unless you’re a teacher by trade, you’ll probably be surprised at how fast younger children tire of one game and want to move onto something else. Two hours is a long time, and it will be even longer if you run out of games in the first thirty minutes. Brainstorm as many games as you can think of, and then scour the internet for more. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get around to playing every game, just as long as you don’t run out.
With these 7 hosting tips, you are well on your way to throwing an incredible party that your child and their guest are sure to remember!
Russ Whittaker is a Director of Tucker Barbecues & has been in the BBQ industry for over 30 years; He is also a keen surfer on Sydney's northern beaches.