Last weekend, we hosted a joint birthday party for my children. I LOVE hosting parties – once they’re properly underway and / or over. The trick is to start really early.
So, for a late September party:
- Book the hall at least three months beforehand. Yes, it is ridiculous but they only had one afternoon left in the whole of September when I booked last June – perhaps I should have sorted this out in April;
- Book the entertainer almost immediately after you book the hall. If you have a lot of children, you just plain can’t entertain the kids and make sure that the adults are having fun. You need an entertainer (I had a guy called Jamie from Froggle … who was super. I tipped him about £25);
- Sort out party invitations. These should give at least a month’s notice of the party and include your child’s name, date and time of the party, address, directions, whether siblings are welcome, your contact number and, ideally, a date by when you want people to have RSVP’d;
- Manage the RSVPs. It is no use whatsoever if you can’t immediately whip out your spreadsheet / list and say how many children you are expecting. Update this whenever someone texts you to RSVP, otherwise you end up in a blind panic because you’ve lost track of who is and isn’t coming;
- Sort out or order party bags. I knew I had at least 40 kids coming so I ordered 50 bags. It meant I had some left over but removed the anxiety over whether siblings should get bags. I might wander into the street and give the remaining bags to random children. Unless their parents get, you know, funny about it;
- Order the cake. Unless you are a brilliant baker, order the cake at least a week in advance. Although I LOVE to bake, I know that I can’t make a cake for 40+ kids and their parents;
- Sort out the catering. You need prosecco / champagne / cava, beer, soft drinks for the adults plus some sort of adult crisps. It is definitely unreasonable to expect adults to attend a children’s party where booze is not served. The food you do for the kids will depend on whether you are having the party during a mealtime. However, even if you are not, you will need to provide some form of food and drink for the kids. Squash, Fruit, hula hoops, chocolate biscuits etc. You will need this stuff;
- Once the party is underway, HAVE FUN. Make sure that you offer everyone a drink and keep their glasses topped up while the entertainer keeps the children amused;
- Make sure that you bring candles AND A LIGHTER for when you want everyone to sing happy birthday. No one smokes these days so one child’s granny ended up having to pop into a restaurant to borrow their heavy duty lighter (she was a kind woman);
- When there are about twenty minutes to go before the end, stand near the door, ready to hand out party bags and balloons to the children as they go (a few will leave a bit early);
- Enlist a couple of kind friends to help you carry the remaining stuff back to your car / the house;
- Do your thank you cards really early. I know that you’re shattered and just want to hide away somewhere for a bit – but do them really soon after the party otherwise this job just hangs over you.
One thing I haven’t put down is to have a good clear out of the toys before the party so that you have somewhere to put all the lovely presents that people bring. The reason I haven’t put that in the list is because I still haven’t done it. But I need to do it.