There is a huge amount of choice when it comes to children's parties but one thing that becomes clear is that it isn't the amount of money spent that is important. I have seen some fantastic, extremely expensive parties which the children involved will never forget and some very 'cost-effective' parties which have been equally memorable for all the right reasons!
Children are unpredictable creatures at the best of times, and party time can bring out the best and worst in them. It doesn't really matter if he forgets to say "thank you" for a present in all the excitement, or gets over tired at the end of the day and has a meltdown. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is your child's special day so as long as he is happy, and the party goers have a good time, not a lot else is worth worrying about.
We often hear about peer pressure and it's affect on children, but I think us adults can be guilty of giving into it at certain times. If you want your child to enjoy himself on his birthday, make sure you are doing what they want (as far as you can) rather than what you think is the 'right' thing to do. Talk to your child about how they would like to celebrate their birthday. If they would prefer to have a day trip to a theme park, or go to the cinema with just one special friend, then don't insist they have a big party, just because all their friends have. Most people will understand and will probably be secretly envious that you have got out of organising a big party!
There are so many ways of celebrating your child's birthday that you really should be able to find one that suits your budget and that will make your child's day. As the weather gets warmer you have more options as you can have the party outdoors, but always ensure that you have an alternative ready in case you are forced inside. The earlier you plan and book things, the more likely you are to be able to get what you want. The best entertainers and party venues will be booked up months in advance, so as soon as you have worked out the date of the party book your entertainment and venue first. Most of the other items such as party bags, food and drink can be left to nearer the time.
Unless you feel completely confident in running the party yourself it is best to call in the professionals! You do generally need a focal point to a children's party, otherwise children will be running around your house and this often ends up with tears at some point and arguments when they can't agree what to do. My daughter once went to a party where the party girl had asked if she could organise what they did. When I went to pick her up, the girls were just sitting around and apparently hadn't really done anything because they couldn't agree on what to do!
If you have the party at home, there are many entertainment options such as magicians, make-over parties, science parties, music parties or you could even have a mini zoo. Take a look through this magazine for ideas that you may not have even thought off. When you book an entertainer, make sure you confirm the following:
• Date, venue and timing (ring the day before as well, to double-check).
• Price and what is included, for example invitations, party bags.
• Do they stay to help with the tea?
• What do you need to provide?
• How many children can you invite? This will also be dictated by the venue.
If you are not having the party at home, there are even more options such as go-karting, ceramics or jewellery making parties, cinema, theatre or farm trips, and soft play centres. The type of party will be dictated by your budget and the number of people you want to invite. Your three-year-old will probably be able to invite his whole nursery class to a party at the local play centre, and you are likely to have a relatively stress-free party whilst the children race around. However, your ten-year-old may need to limit the number of friends he invites to a go-karting party.
Whatever kind of party you decide, there are some things that you will nearly always need to organise. Take a look at our checklist to make sure you haven't forgotten anything.
• Entertainment and venue
• Food and drink
• Plates and cups
• Birthday cake
• Candles and matches
• Party bags
• Contact details of parents
There are parties for all sorts of children and all sorts of budgets. It's important to chat to your child about what they would like as you may get some surprising answers. Most children just want to feel special on their birthday and to have a fun time with their family and friends. There are plenty of ways you can do this, whether you have a small or big budget, and whether you have thirty children or just their best friend.