After hosting hundreds of parties over a decade, if any mom asked me what I would suggest regarding planning a children’s birthday party, the following would be my suggestions:
1. Choose an indoor venue. Although a garden setting is wonderful, one can never control the weather. What may be perfect sunny weather at 1 p.m. may turn into a howling rain at 3:30 p.m. Even intermittent gently falling rain can be a disaster, because your guests will get tired moving in and out of the garden.
I was once flown to host a party about an hour away from my residence. The family even hired a decorator to create a magnificent painted backdrop and turn their huge garden into a veritable underwater scene. But it was all for naught because it rained. The guests had to move to the patio. In frustration, the decorator left.
In another party, I realized, to my horror, that I was slowly sinking because the soil was turning into mud. This also meant that I could not conduct any game that required movement because the children would just slip and fall. I was reduced to asking trivia questions throughout the whole party.
If you must have a garden setting, then find a venue with glass walls to provide the view that you want, but one that will also provide protection from the elements. Remember, it cannot just be a tent or any overhead protection, because the wind can make the rain move sideways, easily pelting your guests with rain.
2. Remember that it’s about celebrating your child’s birthday. A lot of moms get caught up in trying to entertain their guests so much that they frequently forget that a birthday party is simply about celebrating the birth of their child or making their child feel really special.
Several of the best birthday parties I’ve had were those that involved family and close friends, especially when it’s celebrating first birthdays. The intimacy of the relationships between the guests really created the perfect atmosphere for an excellent party because the level of trust and comfort were higher, consequently, people were more willing to jump in and join the fun.
When your child is older, probably 5 and up, you can probably ask your child what theme or activity does he/she want to do for his/her birthday party. With the education that’s being provided now, children are more apt to speak their minds and can have very strong opinions about their birthdays.
3. Choose a good host. Never underestimate the importance of a good host. He/She can make a ho-hum party come alive. What makes a good host? Look for great interpersonal skills because that means he/she can deal with both adults and children. Look for terrific communication skills because that means he/she can give instructions effectively. Look for leadership skills because that means he/she can be expected to lead everybody throughout the whole party and provide solutions to quandaries. Look for organizational skills because that means he/she can arrange the party to be fun but moving at a right pace.
4. Organize the party program to be two hours or less. Under the assumption that your kiddie guests are 1-12 years old, the party program can be more or less two hours. Remember, children have a short attention span. Subjecting them to more than 2 hours will mean losing them at some point; creating the possibility of a chaotic party because the children can’t follow instructions anymore because they lack focus.
Aside from the waiting time of 30-45 minutes, the two hours include the children’s eating time of approximately 20-30 minutes. The younger your kiddie guests are, the shorter the party should be. A party for pre-school kids should be 45 minutes or less.
So choose only one special show (e.g. zipping show or mini-concert) aside from playing the games. And if your party’s on a Sunday, make sure your party’s snappy and moving right along. Guests usually want to go home earlier if it’s a Sunday.
5. Smile and enjoy yourself. Remember that a party is interactive. Therefore, a lot of details will be out of your control like what time will your guests actually arrive, or how many prizes will be for this game or which game should go first. Leave the host and the party organizer to worry about the gifts for the dad who has everything. Mingle among your guests and smile. Your guests will assume that you’re having fun, so they’ll likely relax and have more fun too.