How many children you are inviting will likely dictate the venue or vice versa so it’s probably one of the first questions to answer. There is a supposed ‘rule of thumb’ that for younger children there is one guest for each year of their age (i.e. 3 year old birthday child has 3 guests) but obviously many parties will far exceed this and good luck sticking with that once they start school! Either way get a list together and send out invitations well in advance if you want to limit numbers for any reason or if your party falls over a holiday period.
Include any details on the invitation which might affect whether someone feels able to attend such as the venue not being suitable for younger siblings or whether parents are expected to stay.
Keep it simple and draft in all the help you can. If one of the other parents is willing to stay and help offer to do the same in return for them. Sign up any aunts, uncles, grandparents or other willing helpers to set up, organise activities, keep an eye on the time and of course clear up afterwards.
You might want to look into a venue that runs activities for you or hire an entertainer to give you a hand and don’t forget to take essentials such as pen and paper, bin bags, scissors, sellotape, first aid kit etc. (check list in another blog post coming soon).
Our Humble Hostess boxes come with links to ideas for games and colouring sheets to match your theme as well as ideas for themed food and links to high street shops stocking related items for party bags to really make things easy.
When planning the time of day to hold the party consider whether attendees or their siblings are typically at school or have after school classes and whether parents will be able to easily drop them off and collect them around other activities.
When you send out invitations I suggest adding an RSVP deadline date and request the RSVP to an email address as this makes it easier to file responses and search for them later, far easier than searching through your texts and the parent’s email address might help you identify the surname and help you tell whether it’s ‘little Jack’, ‘big Jack’, ‘blond Jack’ etc who is coming and which might help in writing thank you notes.
When you get an email response from a parent that their child will be attending I also suggest a quick response thanking them, adding your phone number and asking for theirs if the children are old enough that they will be leaving them just in case of emergency. Include any directions if the venue is hard to find, if there are any parking issues and asking for notification of any food allergies. You might want to include a quick sentence as to what the party will entail such as a bouncy castle, if it is to be held outside or whether there is an entertainer or other activity so the parents can ensure the child is appropriately dressed or prepare a more shy or reticent child for the activities to come.
It is amazing how far in advance some popular venues book up for children’s parties (obviously lots of parents far more organised than me out there) so the availability of the venue may dictate the date and time available so check the availability of any key attendees well in advance. Popular venues can book months in advance so plan ahead if you want somewhere in particular or if there is little choice in your area.
If you are new to the children’s party game or new to an area try posting on local mums' Facebook groups or other local parenting forums for suggestions of suitable places.
If the children or lots of younger siblings are likely to arrive by buggy consider the space available at the venue for buggy parking or if parents will be leaving them maybe consider how far away the toilets are from the party room for older children. You’ll need a space for activities/ games and ideally a separate space for the food to be set up while games are in progress. Have another table available for presents and space for coats and bags to be left out of the way.
Before the party write up a quick plan of timings for yourself so you don’t end up with parents arriving to collect the children and suddenly realise that you haven’t cut the cake or equally have the children fed, full of cake and then realise that you still have them bouncing off your walls for another 40 minutes before their parents arrive! Depending on the venue maybe allow 15 minutes free play at the beginning of the party while everyone arrives so any late comers don’t feel they are arriving in the middle of something and perhaps have an extra activity set up such as a colouring station (little table or picnic rug with crayons and print outs to match your theme) for any children taking a while to warm up or not interested in the entertainer or a particular activity.
More blog posts coming soon for ideas on party food and a party planning checklist.