Planning a kids’ party is never easy. There’s a lot to organise and if you get carried away, it can end up costing serious money. But a birthday party doesn’t have to be a circus. In reality, there are only two essentials: food and entertainment. The rest is just icing on the cake, so to speak.
If you’re planning a kids birthday party in Melbourne and don’t know where to start, we have a few simple tips to help you keep it simple and stress free.
Set the right budget
Before you get started on your birthday planning, it’s important to make a budget. Children’s parties are great fun but it’s easy to get carried away at the planning stage. Make sure you set a budget that you’re comfortable with, so you don’t end up overspending.
A budget will also help you to set limits when it comes to the number of people, the activities and amount of food.
Get the kids involved in the planning
Getting the kids involved may seem counter-intuitive when it comes to stress-free planning, but ultimately this party is for the kids. They’re going to have a better time if they have a say in what’s involved in the party. Get their input on the party theme, the activities, the food and the cake. Obviously set boundaries on the scale of the event, but be open to your child’s ideas. Some suggestions or combinations may sound weird, but go with it.
This is also the time to discuss the party theme. A theme isn’t essential, but kids love to dress up and a fun party theme can create a real sense of magic. A theme can also help to direct the planning if you child is uncertain what they want.
Plan the activitiesand entertainment
The party entertainment should be focused on what the kids most want to do. Now, this may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often parents try to plan these big elaborate activities when all the kids want to do is play video games.
Find out what your kids want to do and try to be creative with that. If they want to play video games, there are some great companies for video game hire in Melbourne. They can bring mobile gaming theatres equipped with multiple consoles. Rather than just huddling round the TV or their devices, the kids will get the full gaming experience in an exciting party atmosphere.
When planning activities, you should also think about how the activities might affect the party dynamics. For example, kids love pony rides but it’s a one-at-a-time activity that creates long waits and can break up group dynamics. On the other hand, something like a karaoke set-up can bring the kids together and create a real party atmosphere.
It’s also important to not go overboard with the number of activities. Too many activities can break up the group play and split the party into smaller groups. It can also lead to disagreements about what to do next.
Depending on what you decide on for the party, it’s important to make your bookings early so you don’t miss out. Whether you’re looking for video game hire in Melbourne, a petting zoo, a bouncy castle or a karaoke machine, a lot of party hire companies book out months in advance, especially during school holidays.
Nothing will ruin a party before it starts like having to explain why you couldn’t get the promised entertainment. Make sure you book ahead, pay a deposit and check in with the hire company a week before the event to confirm the correct booking.
Food and drink planning
As much as your healthy parenting urge may try to take over, don’t let it. Celery sticks and organic hummus don’t make for a party vibe. Give the kids one day to go crazy on all the fun party foods they don’t usually eat.
That said, make sure you include a range of foods and drinks to keep everyone happy. This is especially important when it comes to allergies and dietary requirements. Make sure that all parents note any allergies or dietary issues on the party RSVP and that you serve the appropriate foods to accommodate these issues.
Don’t go overboard with the food. Most parents will wildly over-cater when it comes to kids’ parties. Remember that most of the children will be focused on the various party activities and entertainment and won’t eat as much as you might expect.
To save yourself the clean-up hassles, try to set up the food and drink tables where spills aren’t going to be a problem, like the back lawn.
When sending out the invites, try to think a bit beyond just the time, place and RSVP information. Besides the essential stuff, the invites should provide (and ask for) other important information. For example:
- Allergy or dietary requirements: Make sure parents can include all necessary dietary information with their RSVP
- Party theme or dress code: Provide clear information about the party theme, whether dress-up is expected, or what kind of clothing is practical (especially if there’s outside play or physical activities)
- Gift or no gift: This one comes down to parenting style, but also consideration for other parents
- What else to bring (e.g. hat and sunscreen, bathers and towel etc.)
The boring stuff
From a parental point of view, there’s some boring stuff to bear in mind. A few other things to consider are:
- Be sun smart: If you’re doing an outside party, make sure there’s adequate shade and that the kids bring hats and sunscreen.
- Back-up plans: Do you have a plan if the weather turns bad?
- Adequate supervision: The level of supervision depends on where you’re holding the party (e.g. at home or out in public), how many children are coming and what the activities are.
- Adult entertainment: Will other parents be attending, what will they be doing, and will there be alcohol? This is important to consider. It only takes one parent have one drink to many for the adult side of the party to get carried away.
Whatever you end up planning for your kids birthday party in Melbourne, remember that this is a day for the children. Let them have their fun while they can.