Big kids and little kids alike love parties. Here are some fun ways to make your child’s next birthday party one to remember!
rules of thumb for any age
- Parties are cheaper at home, but it’s less stress and less mess at another venue.
- Tailor the party to your child’s personality: some kids need a quiet party, others a crowded party.
- Birthday cake and candles are a must. It’s more important what the cake looks like than what it tastes like.
- Avoid serving peanuts or tree nuts. The parents will tell you if your guests have any other allergies, but they won’t expect you to provide alternative snacks.
- Kids, especially boys, need to run.
party food ? small kids
- Parents will usually stay for the party, so you’ll need to provide food for adults as well as for the kids.
- Toddlers and preschoolers don’t need a lot of party food. Serve popcorn, fresh fruit pieces, cheese cubes, bite-size sandwiches, pizza, cocktail sausages, sausage rolls … but not all of it. About three plates of different snacks (eg, fruit pieces + cocktail sausages + popcorn, or fruit pieces + sandwiches + cheese) will be about right.
- Consider serving the children’s snacks pre-packaged in small packets (chips, popcorn, teddy bear biscuits). Although not environmentally-friendly, you will end up wasting less food.
- Giving each child a party lunch box with sandwiches or hotdogs and chips is another way to contain the mess.
- Avoid lots of sugary treats: other parents will disapprove and kids will run wild. The birthday cake is an exception.
- Remember water. Small juice cartons with straws are fine as bonus, not a replacement for water.
party food ? older kids
- With drop-off parties, you don’t need to provide adult food.
- For the kids, start with snacks like chips, popcorn and one sweet treat like marshmallows or small chocolate biscuits. Follow up with pizza or hotdogs. End with cake.
- Have lots of water (a 10L bottle) and plastic cups.
- It’s okay not to have fizzy drinks.
- Party bags (loot bags) are super-important for the 1?7 age group. They tend to fade out quietly after that.
- Even if you don’t believe in party bags, your child does.
- Ideas for party bag fillers: stickers, sweets, plastic whistles on strings, Happy Family cards, face paint and other bits and bobs from the two-dollar shop.
- Don’t make the bags too expensive.
- Themed bags are always a hit. For a pirate party, include an eye patch, an eraser shaped like a parrot and some chocolate gold coins.
- Get a chocolate fountain. You can dip strawberries, banana pieces, marshmallows, biscuits, dried fruit, etc.
- Book a limousine for half an hour.
- Hire an entertainer: a sleight of hand magician, funny clown, fancy-dress fairy, pirate.
- Take them to Gold Class movies.
- Indoor playgrounds, recreation and sports facilites.
- Instructor-led activities such as Jumping Beans, Y-gym, sports centres.
- Older kids will enjoy climbing parties, laser force (7-years up), bowling, mini golf, treeclimbing, wave pools, hot pools.
- Movies. (Expect running around and screaming in the lobby.)
- Open-air venues (beach, garden, Adventure parks, Actionworld) are weather-dependant, so have a
- Princesses, nail parlour, garden fairies, polka dot, balloons, jungle, lego, pirates, aliens, trains.
- Frozen (or Winter Wonderland): Buy 2-3 bags of ice cubes and scatter them in the garden. Give every guest a can of shaving foam and send them outside.
Use paper snowflakes as decorations. Decorate an ice-blue cake with a marshmallow Olaf snowman.
- Mad Hatter Tea Party: Decorate with playing cards (the hearts suite), clocks, white rabbits, white gloves, mushrooms and caterpillars. Shape the cake like a teapot, or have a cupcake pyramid with the words eat me written in icing.
- Mad Lab Science: Utilise blackboards and whiteboards. Pour coloured water (a few drops of food colouring) into glass jars for decoration. Serve snacks in glass beakers, jugs and jars. Give the guests lab nametags, glasses and plastic syringes filled with Smarties.
- Superhero Challenge: Buy cans of confetti spray for the guests to use. Hang a few masks and capes on the walls. Colour-code your snacks into blue, red and yellow. Serve green jelly as kryptonite. Make your cake in three layers (blue, red, yellow) and decorate the icing with comic book words like POW! and BOOM!
by Yvonne Walus
Looking for ideas for your next party? we have the best list of venues, entertainers and party providers on offer here