Every child should have at least one birthday party.
There, I’ve said it.
I know what you’re thinking – she would say that wouldn’t she? She has children’s parties to sell.
And yes, perhaps I am a little biased on one type of kid’s party, but having helped organise and supported Christmas parties in schools, as well as holding all kinds of parties for my own children, I have seen the joy children get from attending parties.
The reasons why your child should have a party is not necessarily what the party is, it’s the child getting attention from friends and family in a welcoming environment that is important. A party is about play and interaction, of learning social skills that are different from any taught in schools. The real value of them is not about the cost. It is vital for a child’s development, to be the focus, even in a small way, for a small amount of time. They can be a real confidence booster, or a nightmare if done without thought for a shy child.
Stepping out into the limelight, at a gathering especially for them, indeed because of them, and who they are, is to tell them they are loved and worthy. Warmest memories in childhood can be created by being amongst friends of their choosing, and hopefully in a place of their choosing.
(I say hopefully, I haven’t quite managed a zoo party on the moon…. not just yet, maybe in our next party)
The venue should be somewhere your child and their friends are comfortable and are not overwhelmed. Where they can just play, and enjoy each others company.
Almost all children love parties, and will attend at least one other child’s party.
Very few children say “I don’t want a party.” or “I don’t want to go.”
The anticipation and build up to a party can be as much of it as the party itself, and so it should. Take care this doesn’t get out of hand; never make false promises. Never tell a child you are going to throw the most wonderful zoo party on the moon if you know you won’t be able to. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a disappointed child.
Younger children attending their first party, especially if it is being held in a large venue may feel anxious and insecure. Or perhaps you don’t feel comfortable leaving them, if this is the case, then don’t. Make the effort, talk to the parents holding the party, let them know why you’d like to stay and stay with them. No one will judge you, or rather, no one should judge you. Having said that, don’t transfer your anxieties onto them, are you staying for them, or for you?
Once at the party your child, seeing that you are comfortable, will settle themselves, and 9 times out of 10 will go off to play. Although usually noisy and chaotic, you will see how much enjoyment your child will get out of playing with friends away from the school environment. Most children love it, some may find it intimidating at first but as all things in life, until you try it, you will never get use to it.
A party doesn’t have to be every year
And aren’t necessary at all before a child starts school – although nice to mark the occasion with close family and friends. To have attention from family and friends can be the start of getting use to having an audience, something a child may not have had until this point.
A pretty good rule of thumb to go by for numbers to invite to a children’s party is to have roughly the number of children as your child’s age – so if they are going to be 8 years old invite about 8 children. More on that in my post: How Many Children Should I Invite?!
If you decide only ever to have one or two parties for your child I suggest they have one when they are young enough to enjoy games but old enough to remember – somewhere between the ages of 6 and 10. This is the age when parties are the most fun.
To eliminate some of the problems
(that came up in my previous post)
Remember, it can be fun to organise a party, but leave yourself plenty of time, start writing a list at least 1 month ahead.
If you are going to a venue check what it will provide – get it in writing if possible. Also make sure they have adequate insurance.
Unless you know what the venue will provide it may necessary to take these things with you: –
Here’s a small checklist:-
Things to take
▢ Kitchen towel
▢ Wet wipes
▢ Bin bags
▢ A dustpan and brush
▢ Candles/ matches or lighter
▢ Pegs! Can be useful to peg shoes together.
▢ Disposable party cups/plates/napkins/decorations/table cover
▢ Party Bags
▢ First Aid Kit
If the venue provide the party bags make sure you have seen a sample, and that you are happy with them, if not say so, or failing that, add one thing that you think will make it half decent. Here’s a site that has all kinds of party bag items should you feel you need them.
If you are to provide the food, make it simple. Children eat very little, especially when they are excited; so two small sandwiches are enough, certainly for under 6’s. Crisps, fruit and some cake, all out of packets if need be. Avoid nuts. Although I have seen many bad offerings of venue food for kids I can never remember any parent providing awful food, so take the pressure off – you do NOT have to compete with perfect ‘Pinterest’ party food – although you may wish to take a peek there for ideas
With older children, if you decide to hold a party at home then it is possible to have warm food, keep it simple, something like pizza or pasta, or prepare something before the day that’s simple to warm up.
Whatever you choose, make life easy for yourselves and for your pockets – remember the real reason for having the party is to ensure your child has a fun time with friends, not to show off your bank vault or your culinary bake-off skills. It is NOT a competition between parents. And for your child it is just as much about seeing you enjoy their party too. If you can join in and be silly, do it! Kids love seeing adults muck about.
Er, little warning there: Don’t do it when your child is over the age of 10 – I learnt the hard way, I’ll be paying their therapy sessions when they’re older I’m sure.
Make sure you know exactly who’s coming, again look at the post – How many should I invite?
Don’t make it exclusively a Facebook page event – two reasons:
It excludes your child from being able to hand out the invitations, remember the anticipation is part of the fun.
Not everyone looks at Facebook on a daily basis, or in fact, has a Facebook account.
Leave me a convincing reason below why you think your child should have a party, and I may well send you one of our party packs!