Do you like organising kids' parties? I know some people absolutely love it, but I have to admit I'm not one of them. That creativity gene skipped a generation in our family, so I am definitely not the person whipping up an amazing birthday cake or creating gorgeous decorations. I admire those that can! However, with our son's 5 year old birthday that we celebrated this past weekend, one thing I think I did manage a lot better than other parties we've hosted, was a more simple and stress-free approach to organising it. It was a lovely, [relatively] relaxed and fun day for the kids and for us, which I think is the sign of a successful party! Here are my 7 tips to help you achieve the same for your child's party...
1. Create a plan for the day
The key to preparing for any event is all in the planning! 2 weeks before the big day, I sat down with my son with a coy of the party planner (get your free copy by clicking on the button below!) and compiled a big list of all things party-related. This included guests (which I ticked off as we got the RSVPs), food and drink he wanted to have (including choosing a cake from the famous Australian Women's Weekly cake book!), and games he wanted to play.
I did this planning with my son because I wanted to make him feel involved in planning his special day, rather than just going off and doing it myself. This meant we made food that he would like, and included games he wanted to play that I might not have thought of myself i.e. he was keen on the piñata because we'd done that at his friend's party.
2. K.I.S.S. - Keep it simple sista!
A few years ago we threw a party for my son, and I totally stressed myself out in the lead-up, preparing activities and making mountains of food and fancy decorations. This year I was determined to keep it simple. Because we are staying at my parents house during our renovation, I didn't want to make it a stressful process for me or them, seeing as we would be taking over their house for the party. So decorations were simple (25 colourful helium balloons), the food was simple (quiches, sausage rolls, mini-pizzas, fairy-bread, popcorn, teddy cars, cake), the games were easy to create and play, and the kids 'entertainment' involved putting toys in the garden and letting the kids run loose! Having a more laid-back approach to the party greatly reduced my stress, and created a pretty relaxed vibe for the party.
3. Organise as much as you can in the lead up
The best approach for any party is definitely to try and organise as much as you can in the lead-up to the big day, especially the food. I made big batches of sausage rolls and quiches 3 days before so they were all ready to go, and quickly made pizzas the morning of the party (using shop-bought bases to save time and effort).
Friends and family offered to bring along food, which I gladly took them up on. We pre-ordered balloons, prepared the games and made the lolly bags a few days before, and shifted/moved furniture the night before. All that we needed to do on the day was pick up the balloons, do a general tidy-up, put food on trays to go into the oven, set the table, and lay out the toys. Creating a quick to-do list for your morning and ticking things off as they're done is a good way to keep you on track and prevent unnecessary stressing.
4. Get your child/children to help out whenever possible
As I said before, I wanted my son to really feel like he was involved in the whole party process, because it was all about him after all! So, I asked him and my daughter to help me make the sausage rolls and quiches, and prepare the party bags. It took a few go's to explain the process to my 2 year-old who just wanted to eat the chocolate, but we got there in the end ;) Of course it would have been quicker and easier for me to do this myself, but they enjoyed helping and it got them excited about the upcoming celebration!
I kept the lolly bags so simple I think they were probably a little too simple, but at the end of the day, the kids ate so many sweets at the party that a simple token was enough in my books. Each child also took home a helium balloon with their lolly bag.
I placed the party bags on a tray with each child's name attached so I would know that everyone had received one.
5. Traditional party games are easy to create and fun to play!
We organised 6 games, knowing we probably wouldn't get through them all, but it's always good to have a few up your sleeve in case the kids start to go crazy, or the weather is bad. We went with some old traditional faves - pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey, piñata, duck duck goose, and what's the time Mr Wolf. We only played the first 3 in the end as the kids were happy enough tearing around the garden in the sunshine (phew!).
We made the pass the parcel with layers of newspaper and a chocolate in between each layer a few nights before. I grabbed the 'pin the tail' template from a party shop (whilst ordering the balloons) and just had to cut out the tails.
We got the piñata from Big W - it was fun but only lasted a few hits so some kids unfortunately missed out. A friend later told us it's better to line the smaller kids up at the front and the big kids at the back so it doesn't get destroyed straight away - good tip! The games were lots of fun, and brought back those party memories from our own childhood. Aah to be 5 again and not be constantly thinking about home renovations!
6. Accept help when offered, or ask for it!
I was so relieved when my Mum offered to make the birthday cake - baking and decorating cakes is definitely not my forte. Of course Lucas chose one of the more complicated cakes, so it took quite a lot of time and effort, but turned out amazingly, don't you think?
My little boy was suitably impressed!
I had other people offer to bring food too which I gladly accepted - my mother-in-law made the fairy bread, my best friend whipped up some chocolate crackles and my sister-in-law made these cute teddy cars. These were all things that would have been easy enough for me to make, but also quite time-consuming, so I was very glad to have these brought in on the day.
7. Get some good family shots!
And my last tip is to try and take a family shot before everyone arrives! We never remember to do this, and always regret it later. We were organised enough this year to snap a few shots in the garden, this one was the winner...
Although the timing of my daughter's sneeze just as the flash went off in this one was pretty priceless! :)
Don't forget to click the button below to get your free planner to stay organised in the lead up to your big celebrations.
Have you got any tips to add for organising a child's birthday party? What things do you do to reduce stress levels and make it a fun day? I'd love to hear in the comments below!