10 tips for planning a children's party
Planning your child’s birthday party can be daunting, which is why we’ve hauled in the experts
Children’s parties have become more involved in recent years and even seemingly low-key affairs can still require expert planning delivered with military precision. Charlotte Brisco and Sophie Taylor from Dazzle & Fizz party planners offer their top tips on how to plan the perfect children’s birthday party
Children’s social calendars are busy, so get your invitations sent out in plenty of time. Consider sending out save the dates six to eight weeks before the party, with a formal invitation three to four weeks before the big day. The invitation really sets the tone of the whole event, so get creative. I still love a paper invite, but it’s great to experiment with digital or on-theme favours.
A strong theme can elevate the party to a truly one-off occasion and provide a memorable shared experience for the partygoers. Choose a theme that the birthday child adores, even if you think it is a lesser popular theme.
Choosing the right party venue for your child’s party is essential. When comparing your options, do bear in mind the following key points: parking, kitchen facilities, accessibility, access times, rubbish policy (some venues require you to take your rubbish home with you), catering (some venues require you to use their in-house or preferred caterers), staffing on the day and house rules (can you attach decorations to the walls/use helium balloons etc.).
Balloons, props, signage, banners, floristry, photograph opportunities and backdrops can all contribute to your overall party décor. Be realistic on how much room dressing you can achieve in the time you have to set up. If your party venue only allows for a 30-minute set up, for example, it is best to opt for more simple decorations.
In the midst of the party, children can often be too excited to sit down for the duration of the party tea. You can help by creating interactive and engaging table dressing to help capture their imaginations during this period. Appeal to the children’s senses by making table décor that they can see, touch, smell, taste and even hear! Channel your inner Heston, treat your table dressing as ‘table theatre’ and you can really push the boundaries of the humble party tea.
Whether you decide to bake-your-own or use your local baker, your child’s birthday cake is a pivotal point of your child’s party. We asked Gareth Jones at The Odiham Cake Company for his top home-baking tips:
1) Keep it simple – choose a design that you are comfortable with and will enjoy making. Don’t make unnecessary stress for yourself. If you’re more Betty Crocker than Mary Berry, you can always call a professional!
2) Plan and bake well in advance. Gareth recommends baking your sponge three days prior to the event to ensure adequate time to decorate.
3) Make it inclusive- involve your children in the baking and use the time as a bonding experience. This will make the cake all the more special on the day. After all, a party without cake is just a meeting...
Your children’s party catering offers another great opportunity to add to your party theming. Party food that is fun and attractive is always met with the best reception. Pinterest is a great place to go for catering inspiration, as there is always such a lot of material. Many parents are conscious of limiting sugar consumption, so try and include healthy options as well as treats. If you are serving the children birthday cake at the party, opt for fruit for pudding for example. Or if you are serving a treat for dessert, choose water as a beverage.
If the prospect of entertaining 30 screaming children fills you with fear and dread, just call in the professionals. If you do fancy treading the boards however, says Dazzle & Fizz’s Daniel Brisco, plan plenty of activities! It is always better to have too much material planned than too little. Also play to your strengths. If you are very confident, then go for it with games and dancing. If you usually avoid the limelight, choose activities like crafting, making, building, cooking and team activities.
Choosing the right party music for your child’s party is essential in creating the best atmosphere. Choose music that is high energy, up-tempo and contemporary. I always find that the ‘Now’ albums have a great selection of current music, but do check that the content is appropriate pre-download. Even if there isn’t an ‘Explicit Content’ warning, the inferences of the song may still be inappropriate for young children.
Your party favours leave a lasting impression with your guests, so choose favours that are sure to make the children smile. Be creative with everything from the bags to the contents. It is often best to choose a few quality gifts, than filling the bags with sweets and plastic tat that will last two minutes at home. The party bags can even become gifts in themselves.
All parties styled, planned and delivered by Dazzle & Fizz
Photography by: Greg Hammond Photography/Eddie Judd Photography/Tina Bolton Photography
Party bags by Truly Scrumptious at Dazzle & Fizz