Hosting a party for your child to invite friends to is super fun:) Your child will always remember the party, but they won’t remember the chaos or how hard you worked. So, you need some tips to stay sane during the party. I’ve hosted multiple parties for my three boys so I’m sharing my 7 Tips to Survive Hosting a Kids Birthday Party to help you get through it.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them, I will receive a small advertising fee at no added cost to you. This helps me run my website. Please see my disclaimer in the top menu bar for more details. Thank you!
Make it a point to try and throw your child a party each year, even if it’s small because they grow up quick. In a blink of your eye, they will be grown up and they may not want parties anymore. Make the effort to throw them parties while they care!
The Ignorant Mama! That was me.
I remember when my boys were all young and under the age of six and I was planning my first kid party ever. I ran into a friend at the store and while we chatted I was giddy as I mentioned I was buying party supplies for my son’s party. She got this pained look on her face and she even grimaced. Two of her kids were older than mine at the time so she had lots of experience hosting parties for her own kids. She warned me that those kid parties “can suck the life out of you”.
I had no idea about this and it seemed like an unecessarily ominous warning. I was the ignorant mama without kid party hosting experience so I was unsure.
My thoughts were I could just let the kids play whatever they wanted, feed them, open gifts and be done. Easy, peasy. After hosting a party, I learned that was a foolish view. Don’t get me wrong, I love hosting parties for my kids. I do it every year, but kid parties are definitely work to put on.
I was also ignorant because I had only hosted one kid party for my son when he was five. We had invited the whole family of each child to the party because it was mostly neighbors on the invite list. Hosting a party where kids are dropped off is a very different thing entirely.
After hosting a few parties for my kids, I soon found out that she was right. Kid parties can suck the life out of you! So, what you need is a plan and some advice to help you survive!
7 Tips to Survive Hosting a Kids Birthday Party
1. You Need a Plan
First off, you need a plan, don’t just wing it. If you don’t make-a-plan, you will find yourself in a panic. These kids are excited which can make them loud and wild. Make a schedule ahead of time and try to stick to it. When will you start opening presents? When will you serve the cake and ice cream? What will the kids do? If you make-a-plan, then you will have time for everything and you won’t be trying to cram it all in before parents start to arrive to pick them up.
Let your child pick the theme of the party, this will help you make your plan.
2. Don’t Make the Party Too Long
Don’t make it too long. We did this once and regretted it. I’d say about 2 to 2 1/2 hours is enough time. I think 2 hours is perfect. Let them play for the first 45 minutes to an hour whether it’s games, swimming, or even free time outside. They are so excited to be with peers and friends so often they can be wild. I suggest you don’t make them sit to eat or open gifts first because you won’t be successful.
After 45 minutes to an hour, corral them in to eat and/or do cake and ice cream. This is the perfect time to open gifts because they are sitting down.
After eating and opening gifts, they will want to play again, so be sure to start the eating and gift opening early enough to give them play time after.
3. Pick Activities that Fit the Kids’ Ages and Keep Expectations Low
Consider the age of the kids and how antsy they will get with the activities you have planned. Pick an activity that fits the age or is even below their age to make it super easy to accomplish with multiple kids. Keep your expectations of what can be accomplished low.
You may have all these plans to make elaborate crafts yet no one is interested. Or, you may plan a very cool craft that is just too hard for some kids, so again, keep your expectations low. If doing a craft, make sure it is very easy and something the kids can do completely on their own otherwise you will be creating a very busy and chaotic schedule for yourself. The simpler the better for crafts at parties.
I suggest you don’t plan activities above the kids’ skill levels unless you have a lot of older kids or adult helpers at the party.
4. Provide Simple Snacks
Provide snacks and cake with ice cream, but often the kids are too excited to eat so don’t plan a big elaborate meal. Make it easy and simple. I’ve usually done pizza if I’ve done a meal, but often snacks with cake and ice cream are enough. The kids may take two bites and be so excited to play that they run off to play without finishing their food. This will be frustrating to you if you’ve spent a lot of time preparing food, so keep it simple.
Some ideas I’ve used for party food and snacks include:
- small bags of chips, crackers, or cookies
- applesauce cups
- yogurt or Gogurt®
- snack mixes made with cereal, prepackaged or made at home and put into disposable cups
- cake and ice cream, or cupcakes
- big decorated cookie
- soda pop
- sports drinks
- mini PBJ sandwiches
5. Pick a Location for the Party That Fits the Age of the Kids
Decide on a location that works for you and be sure to consider the age of the kids. We made the mistake of taking seven first graders to a bowling alley. They were wild and hard to control because they were so excited. The bowling alley also had a game room so we had to position an adult at the doorway to make sure the kids didn’t leave. They all needed help pouring their drinks and we had only three adults so even the meal time was a challenge. Plus, we had our two younger kids along which added to the challenges.
Going to a place for the party is nice because they provide activities and sometimes even help manage the party (which is awesome). But, if you choose this route, you are going to pay for it. The party will be much more expensive which will also determine how many kids your child can invite.
Some places we’ve gone to for birthday parties include:
- local park (this one is inexpensive and fun, but you have to haul all the food and drinks there)
- the bowling alley
- Chuck E. Cheese®
- movie theater (this one is great because you can easily find age appropriate movies for any age)
- amusement park (I would recommend this only for the tweens or teenagers, & if the child is younger, be sure to take only 1 or 2 kids)
- Pump it Up® with blow-up slides and jumpers
- challenge obstacle courses
- trampoline indoor parks
- indoor amusement centers with bumper cars, batting cages, mini golf, playground, and laser tag
- outdoor mini golf
At home works too but be sure to have activities so they don’t get bored and start to pull out every toy they see. I’ve found at home parties are usually cheaper, but you need activities for the kids like swimming, games, or a movie. Outdoor games are very beneficial to get energy out if the weather permits, I’ve found this to be true even for parties for my young teenager.
6. Plan Gift Opening at the Right Time
Try to guide the kids over when it’s gift opening time so your child can be the focus rather than having the kids off playing. The party is about celebrating another year of your child’s life so let them be center stage. This can be a challenge when kids want to go off and play, but be firm and tell them this is gift opening time and they need to come and sit. We have often done cake and ice cream first, then gifts for young kids because it’s easier to get them to sit and eat cake during gift opening.
7. The Sleepover Party Means Lots of Planning and Food
If your child wants a sleepover party, just be prepared for the long haul with lots of ideas for activities and food.
Make sure you make a plan, however, if kids are older, they tend to take care of their own activities. This can be great! Often my older kids have chosen sleepovers where they watched a movie, played on electronics, went swimming, and played games outdoors. Nerf® wars are popular with tweens and teens too.
Be sure to have lots of snacks and drinks such as sports drinks, lemonade, and soda pop on hand. Often kids have asked for water at our parties so I always have bottled water available. One tip is to use disposable cups and write each child’s name on a cup so they can use it more than once. I’ve even written names on water bottles, or created fun labels on my computer with each child’s name. I simply printed them, cut them, and taped them on. This is fun too because you can customize it however you’d like to match the theme of the party.
Plan a breakfast because the kids will wake up hungry. I often make pancakes, put out doughnuts and fruit, or set out bagels and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast for the morning of a sleepover party.
Read my post for tips to host a sleepover party: How to Host a Fun and Successful Kids Sleepover
Party snack idea! S’mores Party Dip
I hope you find my post helpful in planning your child’s next birthday party! Let me know how it goes by dropping me a comment. Be sure to save this post to Pinterest for future reference if you’ve found my tips helpful:)
Thanks and party on!!!
Copyright © 2018 Julie Hoag. All Rights Reserved.
Join the newsletter