Planning a Kids Birthday Party

by TerriRexson

Are you planning a birthday party for a child? Here are some tips and advice to make sure the party goes smoothly and the kids all have a great time.

Children's Birthday Party Planning

I'm Mom to two small boys and I also have young nieces and nephews. This means that I've been planning and attending lots of kids parties! 

In this article I'll share lots of tips for planning a kids party and making sure it's not too stressful for the parents and that the kids all have a lovely time including the birthday child. 

I've included tips for party food, party games and also a sample party timetable. The better prepared you are, the more relaxed you'll be during the party. 

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Choosing a Party Theme

I think kids parties work best when there's a theme. It's something you can build all the party games, food, decorations and party supplies around. 

If your child has both boys and girls attending the party then it's best to pick a neutral theme. My very boyish nephew recently found himself at a very pink party and wasn't too impressed! On the other hand it is the birthday child's big day so if they have a really strong preference then the guests might just have to fit in. 

I've recently held a pirate party for my younger son and nephew (both 3) and an African Safari party for my older son (5). In my case both boys were very clear on what theme they wanted for their party. If yours aren't sure then take a look at some of the popular themes at birthday party online stores to get some ideas. 

Buying packages of party supplies including pre-filled party bags saves time and can work out cheaper too. 

Kids' Birthday Party Supplies

Parties under $100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip: As you start buying party supplies, put them all in the same place in a large box or bag so nothing goes missing before the big day!

Where Should You Hold a Birthday Party?

There are lots of different options for where to hold a kids birthday party. The main options are:

  • Your own home or garden. (If large enough and weather permitting.)
  • Hire a room at a community center, hotel or other venue. 
  • Choose a party venue with entertainment included - e.g. play barn, go-karting. 

Choosing an organised party can reduce the effort required to plan a party, but that does come at a price. I also find that the organized parties are less personalized to the child. 

Don't worry if you can't afford big party or that's not your style, a custom party at home or in a hired room, can be lots of fun and will create some wonderful memories. 

My older son doesn't like to be the center of attention and is more confident in his own home, so the choice for his recent party was easy. 

Birthday Party Invitations

Once you've decided on the birthday party theme and location, you'll want to arrange the invitations. Don't forget matching thank-you notes - it's best to get those organized at the same time. 

Send the invitations out a few weeks in advance because kids do tend to get booked up! And remind parents close to the time - just ask if they're still okay for the party.

For really impressive party invitations, try personalized invitations from Zazzle. You can include the details of the party so you won't have to write them out.

Birthday Party Timetable

A kids birthday party should be between 1.5 hours and 2 hours long. That's enough time to play some games, eat party food and have some activities. 

Here's a rough birthday party timetable which worked well for us:

11:30 - 11:45 Arrival and themed treasure hunt or craft activity. You want something that kids can join in with as they arrive. 
11:45 - 12: 15 Party games. Themed variations on musical statues, musical bumps, pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey. Or for older kids, something that involves skill like hitting a target. If you have a party entertainer you might want to have them at this time and possibly extend the time.
12:15 - 12:45 Party food and themed videos to watch or some fun party music. We popped some short cartoons and videos on the big TV and brought food round to where the kids were sitting. Tip: Give the kids boxes of drink or pouches - open cups are just asking for trouble!
12:45 - 1:00 Photos of the children with a party prop. Then sing happy birthday and blow out the cake candles. (This means that someone can now cut the cake up ready to go in the party bags or boxes.)
1:00 - 1:20 You can either end the party here, or have some final activities for the kids to do. We made balloon animals for the kids and then got them to do impressions for a small prize. You could have free playtime in the garden, or a disco.
1:20 - 1:30 Collect together kids belongings. Make sure they have any prizes and crafts and give out party bags.

We picked a late morning start time because kids tend to be at their best in the morning. But afternoon can work fine too.

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Party Picks and Food Flags

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Birthday Party Food

You can have a lot of fun with themed party food, but make sure your ideas don't take too long to prepare. You're likely to need to do a lot of the food preparation at the last minute so keep it simple. I find that party food picks or flags are a brilliant way of very quickly theming any kind of party food.

For my son's Safari party I used animal party pick on squares of pizza and for my other son's pirate party we used pirate flags to turn mini sausages into pirate ships. Very quick and easy.

Cupcake decoration sets are another effective idea that don't take too much time. You can either make the cupcakes or just pop store bought cakes into the decorated cases - the kids really won't notice or mind.

Cupcake Kits

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Meri Meri Animal Parade Cupcake Kit

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Meri Meri Twinkle Toes Ballerina Cupcake Kit

Our Ballerina Party Themed Cupcake Set is a perfect alternative to serving cake at your child's birthday party!

Build a Box Fort or Other Cardboard Structure

A cardboard playhouse or other box structure is a great addition to a party. It gives the kids something to explore and also acts as a fun photo prop. You can make a vehicle, building, monster or anything else that fits with your theme. With bigger kids, making the model can be a party activity. Kids of any age will enjoy decorating the prop - paint outdoors, crayons or stickers indoors. 

We use Make Do to create cool cardboard models without much effort. 

Ideas include:

  • Pirate ship, train, safari jeep, space rocket
  • Castle - knights or princess
  • Transformer or other robot, dinosaur
  • Safari lodge, log cabin
A Make Do kit turns cardboard boxes and other waste items into wonderful models and toys. A green, crafty and fun gift for children, and adults too.

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More Kids Party Ideas

Balloon modeling is a fun activity for a kids party. You can make balloon animals, pirate swords, balloon flowers and lots more.
A cardboard house, castle, rocket or other playhouse is great fun for a kids party or other event. Get ideas to make your own cardboard playhouse or choose a kit.
Updated: 11/09/2011, TerriRexson
 
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Do you have any Birthday Party Planning Tips to Share?


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sheilamarie on 11/09/2011

I miss all those fun birthday parties we had when my kids were small. One tip I have is that you don't need to over plan. Kids enjoy just being together and, though it's fun to make the occasion extra special, you don't need to go overboard and spend a lot of money to make the day memorable. A few games such as you've suggested, food, etc, are the important parts.

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