Birthdays, for children, are synonymous with parties.
And so, whether you like it or not, you will be throwing one for at least the first five years of your child’s life - if not before - starting with a Baby Shower. Fear not: here we offer enough tips, ideas and resources to make it a breeze, with listings of party entertainers, cake-makers and sources of party-bag fillers, bouncy castles and themed tableware. If it all gets too much, you can always call in a party organiser, who will take care of the whole event for you!
The first birthday party is a baptism by fire for most first-time parents. Plan to hold it at home with family, a few friends, and not too many young babies - this is an excuse for grown-ups to shower an angel or urchin with adoration and gorgeous baby gifts. NB Presents should be targeted to delight mum rather than baby, who will invariably find the wrapping paper more interesting. The key to making the party flow is to provide lots of Champagne and food for the grown-ups, and choose an excellent entertainer from our recommended list, who can delight all generations.
Second and Third Birthdays
A tea party at home with small tables and chairs will ensure that the catering aspect of the party contains itself to one room and not your carpet. A ball pond or a few tunnels will provide plenty of excitement for 2yr olds – but remember to put away toys that you don’t want to be played with (especially the favourites or new presents).
Party games like "pass the parcel" don’t really work at 2yrs – so you can leave that one for another year. Things begin to get serious by the age of 3. The party needs orchestrating and guests corralling, to avoid tears and tantrums before your party fairy or Spiderman has got as far as cutting the cake. We highly recommend a musical party.
You must plan to cater for parents as well – as many young children will not want to be left on their own. We recommend that you just invite children from your child’s age group otherwise you will find you have older children getting bored and running riot. Again for larger parties an entertainer who specialises in younger children is a must.
Fourth and Fifth Birthdays
If your child attends a nursery or playgroup, then you will find that this becomes a whole class event. Parents are not expected to stay and you can let them know what time to pick the children up afterwards. You also need space if you want to hold the party at home – so many opt for an indoor activity centre, or a party venue that has a party programme pre-prepared. Themed parties with dressing up are very popular. You can also play traditional party games or try making things.
Party entertainers are again in their element with this agegroup. Magic, silly songs, puppets, balloon modeling, bubble machines, face painting, white rabbits, doves, snakes – all delight and entrance; and such is their popularity you need to book around 6 weeks ahead, particularly during festive seasons such as Christmas. Entertainers normally attend for around 2 hrs with a 45 minute session whilst you are getting the food ready, then another 45 minutes after the meal. What makes a good entertainer? Getting all the children to remain seated, fully engaged and responsive for the whole session – and they’re worth every penny.
Tips from the experts:
- Book your entertainer well ahead. If you haven’t found a venue locally then many party organisers, such as Twizzle, have a whole range at their fingertips for every postcode. Let them know how many children they are entertaining and what the age range will be.
- Try and orientate parties around your child’s natural mealtimes so that everyone has a good appetite. For 2-3yrs they recommend 11-1pm or 12-2pm rather than afternoons, and for 3-5yrs 12.30-2.30pm or 3.30-5.30pm.
- Liaise with other parents if children’s birthdays in the same class clash across one weekend.
- Make sure the sweet things aren’t on the table before the savoury – and decide whether to put the cake in the party bag or serve it at the table. Ask parents to mention allergies before the day so you can cater accordingly.
- Party bags are becoming ever more sophisticated, but stick to your budget and you’ll be surprised how much you can find that delights the under 5s.
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