Planning the perfect children’s party

  Planning a children’s party is child’s play if you take the time to ensure that all the elements are in place, well-ahead of time.
   To throw a fun and stress-free celebration, use the following pointers:
   Since the party is to celebrate your child’s birthday, include him or her in what the theme of the party is to be, if there is a theme.
   Betsy Drummond is mum to two teenagers and an older son, who lives away from home.
   She says: “Wherever possible try and host a party that your kid will think is the coolest. This is about the kid and it happens once a year (unless it’s a party for a one or two year old [in which case] it’s really about the adults!)
   She also cautions parents to “be careful that it doesn’t end up focusing [entirely] on the budget.”
   To save you running around at the last minute, draw a plan of what you need and when you need to get it at least three weeks ahead of time.
   If you want to stage the party at home, allow for time to pack away breakables and other valuable items. Any rooms you do not wish youngsters to go into should be properly secured.
   Remember to state on the invitations whether or not siblings can attend and whether a parent needs to be present (which is the norm at pool parties where there might be a few non-swimmers).
Hiring a venue
   Margaritaville, on Harbour Drive, is a popular venue for hosting children’s parties. Julie Allan, the location’s food and beverage manager, recommends parents email her on [email protected] to book a party.
   “Our party rate is $12 a child, included in that price are food platters, drinks and the use of our splash out area with the waterslide.”
   Bookings are available from 11am to 2pm and from 2-5pm. She advises a few weeks’ notice is preferred.
   When hiring a hall take into account that you will need to find out whether it contains a table or two for stacking presents and for placing party food.
   Go to the community centre/hall well ahead of time to find out where the restrooms and the kitchens are located.
Numbers and themes
   Determine how many friends will be invited and ask a friend, or a family member, to help out during the party.
   For very young children, of school age, it seems to be standard to invite the entire class. Allow for the fact that not all the invitees will attend and make allowances for that when planning how much food and party favours are bought.
   Allow for the fact that young children need to be entertained and enjoy party games like musical chairs, pin the donkey, musical statues and pass the parcel.
   Pre-teens will definitely want to be involved in more of the organisational aspects, but here too the party elements should be kept simple.
   Mother of four, Anna Peccarino-Palmer says: “My suggestion is to limit numbers to only good friends (reduces squabbles); provide plenty of garden and/or pool toys; one or more piñatas so they let their frustrations out on the piñata rather than each other; order pizzas and a birthday cake from a supermarket (don’t stress out trying to cater yourself).”
   Peccarino-Palmer says: “I’ve tried theme parties; (princesses and pirates and [have found that] half the kids don’t bother dressing up). Arts and crafts parties are messy but girls love these, beach parties, sleepover parties (nightmare – literally!), wave machine parties, spa and make over parties (which are the messiest of the lot).”
   Older boys may prefer to have a party which centres on an activity like bowling, or a wave machine and skateboarding party, followed by pizza and the movies.
   Another parent who has had plenty of experience of staging children’s parties is Sharon Galloway, a mother of three.
   She recommends that the host: “Only invite the number of children [they] feel comfortable with.  
   “Don’t get pressured into inviting the whole class if you don’t have the space or the will.  Some of the best parties are with only a handful of children.  Small children can get overwhelmed with large numbers,” she says.  
   The general rule of thumb when catering is to prepare simple finger food for young children, like pizza slices, cut sandwiches, fresh fruit, cocktail sausages, potato chips and a birthday cake.
   Caty Beaven, assistant manager at Gino’s Pizza in Regency Court, West Bay Road, says her establishment has a variety of food and beverage packages for children’s parties.
   “We try and accommodate clients depending on their tastes and budget,” she says.
   As well as pizzas, the pizza place can also make hot dogs and cookies for special events and can deliver them. Gino’s can also hire out tables and chairs for parties.
   Galloway also suggests having “a backup plan.
   “I’ve ended up with the kids grooming a pony in the next door neighbour’s garage when the wonderful cowboy, bonfire, pony ride party we’d planned was rained off – they loved every minute of it and still talk about it,” she says.
   When it comes to getting a few extra pair of hands to help out during the party, Galloway says: “As the kids get older it’s much easier to ditch the parents and have the [them] dropped off [and] ask a few friends to help out instead.”

An important but often overlooked aspect of planning children’s parties is to be a minimalist as possible so that you, the host, doesn’t end up feeling overwhelmed.