1. A great party doesn’t just happen. Organization and preparation are key.
2. The most important thing to remember is that kids just want to play and have fun.
3. Listen carefully to your child and accommodate your child’s wishes and desires—even though they may not be what you had envisioned (i.e., party theme, who to invite, etc.).
4. Create a memorable party by starting a family tradition that can be repeated at every birthday. Children look forward to those special birthday moments and will carry them through their entire lives.
5. Plan a party that is appropriate for your child’s age and stage of development.
6. Saturdays and Sundays are the best days for parties.
7. The best times for parties are 1:00–2:30 or 3:00 p.m. Limit the party to one to two hours. Any longer and they’ll wear themselves (and you) out.
8. If your child’s birthday occurs during a school holiday or vacation, have the party before school lets out or after it starts up again. Keep the party separate from any holiday celebrations.
9. Call the parents of your child’s best friends to make sure the intended guests can come on the planned party date. Let them know you’ll be sending a written invitation later.
10. The #1 party location is outdoors—whether it’s a park, playground or your own backyard. Plan a backup in case the weather doesn’t cooperate—a garage or basement will do fine.
11. Let your birthday child help with planning and shopping. Pick out the party favors together.
12. The Party Agenda: start with a half-hour of arts and crafts, continue with a mixer, go on to non-stop fun activities and games, cake and ice cream, present opening, then—before you know it—the party’s over!
13. Always have one adult or helper for every three or four children. Solicit help from your spouse, friends, relatives or favorite babysitters.
14. Scoop ice cream ahead of time. Place scoops in cupcake liners placed in muffin tins and refreeze. When it comes time to serve, just pop them out of the tins and onto the plates.
15. Involve the birthday child from start to finish—make your child feel special! This is the child’s big day—he or she gets the first bite of cake, is first in every activity, and gets to play with the gifts before the guests do.
16. Plan activities that alternate between active (a hunt or a game) and quiet (art activities or present opening).
17. Keep the games simple and short. Plan games in which all children participate at the same time. Most kids have little patience and the longer they have to wait their turn, the rowdier they get.
18. Make a game out of opening gifts. Have the guests sit in a circle with the birthday child in the middle. While the music plays, the guests pass a favorite toy around the circle. When the music stops, the guest who is holding the toy gives his or her present to the birthday child.
19. Play “everyone wins” games—non-competitive, cooperative group games—there are no losers! Children play together and they all get little prizes just for participating.
20. Memorize the KISS principle—Keep It Short and Simple!
For more information on what to do and not to do when it comes to kids’ parties, look for the book: That Was the Best Party Ever! How to Give Birthday Parties Kids Will Never Forget by Sharron Krull.