Knowing just how daunting organising the big day can be, mum of two and founder of Bubble-U Cards 4 Kids, Alexandra Dionisio, shares her party planning tips.
Ah, the dreaded birthday party. What used to be a dozen friends, a game of pass the parcel, cake and a balloon, has now grown into a full-scale event requiring planning (and possibly the cost) fit for a royal wedding. From the theme, the location, the timing, the invitations, the menu, the games, the guests and the decorations – there’s a lot to think about. With two daughters, Alexandra Dionisio has pulled off her fair share of celebratory bashes, and has learned a thing or two along the way:
Involve the birthday girl or boy in the preparations by allowing him or her to pick the theme, or offer a choice of whatever they are into at the time (be it princesses or pirates, dancers or dinosaurs). If it’s not going to cause too many ructions, try to involve your other children too so that it’s a family affair. Organise a party that suits you and your family. Don’t feel pressured to orchestrate a huge event if you actually prefer a more intimate affair.
Who, when and where?
Perhaps the biggest decision is deciding on the number of children you wish to invite, as that will also dictate the venue, activities and, ultimately, the cost. Little Sarah might be happy with a handful of her closest pals, whereas boisterous Ben may want the entire class and his football team. Pick a party location to accommodate numbers: ranging from the garden at home, to the park or play areas. There has to be room for party games and food, and don’t forget to make sure that there’s a loo close by.
Bring in help
Make sure you have extra pairs of hands on the day: if it’s a younger child’s party, invite the parents along as well to ensure appropriate supervision, and keep in mind that siblings may also want to join in the fun. Decide whether you want to hire an entertainer and research your options. This is an extra cost factor, but worth the money because it frees you up to enjoy the party too.
Fun and games
Hand out the invitations at least two weeks before the party, requesting an RSVP by a certain date, then you’ll know roughly how much food and how many party bags are required. Organise the party games in advance, too, with enough small prizes so everyone wins something, plus gift bags to take home.
Food for all
Decide on the food, with a preference for snacks that are easy to handle. Pizza and apple juice always go down well. Vegetable sticks or mini veggie burgers are a good healthy option. Or try strawberries with yoghurt dip – kids love to be hands-on with their food. And if you’re ordering a themed birthday cake, make sure you place your request with the baker at least one week in advance.
Keep the party short but sweet. Over-excitement can lead to tiredness and tears, so limit the celebrations to just two or three hours.
Kids are never too young to learn social skills so encourage your child to greet all their guests in person and say thank you for their gifts. Try to keep a list so that you know who each present was from.