This weekend just gone we had our first taste of throwing a kids party and wow. We have done parties before but they have been at home and relatively small- although Xander’s 1st Birthday party got slightly out of hand and involved a bouncy castle hire etc. Like our kids, the parties seem to have grown and I’m slightly concerned for future birthdays and how you reign it in. We were excited to do this right of passage though and Eden was close to combustion in the lead up to his 3rd Birthday Party.
For our superhero obsessed little person it was a given that this would be his theme. Although dinosaurs were a close second, followed by- randomly- him going through a stage of wanting a ‘pumpkin party’. I started collecting bits and pieces a couple of months in advance and wound up Dad of Mad Lads with the bags everywhere. Poundland is your bestie for a children’s party. They do so much party stuff and I think my house was full of it ALL at some stage.
We did the standard hire of a local village hall as we had invited around 30 children (although 20 ended up coming). It was £15 per hour and we hired it for 4 hours with the plan to have an hour to set up and an hour to tidy up. Children of this age only need a party for a max of two hours and at this time most of them were pretty much done in, and so were the parents! We then also arranged for two areas of soft play stuff at either end of the hall. Two ball pits, a slide, a bouncy castle and those things that push out air to make the balls hover were what it consisted of. Most of the local companies also knew the local village halls so were familiar with what would fit in- so my advice would be to use their knowledge as they do this everyday. I could not do this everyday it was pretty stressful. It was all on us to make sure Eden and his friends had a good time and that is enough to make anyone sweat. 3 year olds are harsh critics and we didn’t want to disappoint.
We decorated the hall with Balloons and a few superhero posters. If you have a theme that you can use some of their toys from home- do so. We had some Spider-man figurines on the table to fit the theme and the posters we have now put up in his bedroom. Luckily, there is loads of stuff out there for a Superhero theme. It was great to have the children dressed up and I took spares in case any children wanted to dress up but weren’t. I wore a superhero jumper I found in H&M, Xander wore a Batman top and leggings and Dad of Mad Lads went the whole hog as Batman. Eden wore his Iron Man costume he got for Christmas. He loved that everyone was dressed up as his favourite thing.
We invited kids from Eden’s nursery which was great. He mentions these little boys and girls all the time and we never get to meet them or their parents. We asked the nursery for a list of names of who he plays with and sent him in with invitations. It was lovely to meet the parents of the kids and chat about being in the same rickety parenting boat. Turns out I went to school with one of the Mums of a boy in Eden’s class and I had no idea. It was brilliant to finally meet some of them. My advice would be to do this too if you have a small one who goes to nursery, be the one who gets people together- you won’t regret it. It was one of the nicest parts of the party to see Eden interacting with the other kids from nursery- you always wonder what they get up to when they are there and this was a little glimpse. The rest of the guests were family and friends. Shout out to the ones who turned up that don’t even have kids but stood in the hall with us regardless and watched some kids go mental on a Sunday afternoon.
We set up a little area for the kids to eat. We like to do this as it is so nice to see them all sitting round and eating and chatting. I like to make a party bag/ food bag as it find it easier than putting on a buffet. The kids LOVE to rifle through their bag and see what is inside. I stick to a basic bag consisting of two triangles of sandwich, one cheese, one ham, some raisins, a packet of crisps, some chocolate buttons and a fruit shoot. They also had a superhero cookie in their bags from Cookie Town. I cannot recommend Nadia and this company enough. Her cookies are gorgeous and delicious and she can pretty much do ANYTHING in your theme. She can post out across the UK so check her out. Children of this age are too busy having fun to eat much at the party so this is just enough. They also had some toys in their bags (a medal, some plastic dinosaurs, a snap game and some party horn blowers)- one word- Poundland. This cheap crap is treasure for them and it was so sweet to see them getting it all out and comparing their finds. Each child had a cape and mask on the back of their chair to put on an run around in. I also would recommend putting something out to tell the parents what the deal is. I put a little sign out (below) as its so hard to get round to everyone and explain that they can help themselves to a food bag etc. The bags were personalised with labels from Bubble Pop Design that said ‘Thank you for coming to my party Love Eden x’- Little touches like this really make the difference and are bespoke and ensures your party isn’t just a Poundland special. Contact this company if you would like something similar in your theme. They can literally do anything! We then just put on extra sandwiches for the parents and a few crisps and that’s really all you need. We bought disposable coffee cups and did tea, coffee and soft drinks for the adults too.
I bought Eden’s Birthday cake from Asda but jazzed it up with some new candles spelling out his name and some stars. I put it on a nice stand and voila. I find Asda have the best selection of birthday cakes and they are brilliant! Know your limitations when doing your kids parties and I know baking is not my thing so I always buy one. This isn’t time to be a hero- actually it was part of the theme. I bought table cloths from their and even Dad of Mad Lads batman costume was £20 from there!! Singing happy birthday to Eden and letting him blow out the candles was magical. We stood him on a chair in the middle of the hall and Dad of Mad Lads dressed as Batman bought it over to Iron Man. His face was a picture and made the whole organisation worth it. We had a Piñata, shaped like Spider-Man that bought from Toys R Us, filled with sweets and the children had to pull the string to release the sweets. It was an bit of an anti-climax as the sweets didn’t come gushing out but we got there in the end with some prodding.
Another inexpensive way to inject some fun into the party is to have a temporary tattoo table. They are so cheap- I got a pack of 200 for about £5 and they are quick and easy. The went down a storm with the children and they loved showing off their tattoos. Anyone can apply them and its much quicker and cheaper than hiring a face painter. Make sure you ask the parents though before you start covering their children in tattoos!! Everyone was fine with it at our party, but its always good to ask.
Below I have summed up my top ideas for a children’s party:
- Food bags. Easier and cuter than a Buffet.
- Use the professionals and take their suggestions- soft play.
- Keep food and drink for adults to a minimum- they don’t need a full course meal.
- Invite people from Nursery/ School that you might not know.
- Have a ‘tea party’ area for the children to eat.
- Have some kind of dress up- capes and masks in our case. It sets a party atmosphere.
- Keep the party to a couple of hours.
- Personal touches as much as possible.
- Know your limitations and don’t put extra pressure on yourself. Also, know what other people are good at and don’t be afraid to delegate. In my experience ASK for help.
- Have a theme and keep that in mind throughout all planning.
I also make sure that I ask people for any photographs that they took on the day. In my experience you will be too busy having fun to take many and its nice to see some pictures other people have taken and their kids having fun. If you have the budget or a friend with knowledge- have a photographer. This is something I wish I had done.
So there you have it. One of the most stressful things we have ever done, but also the most fun- at lot like being a parent in general then!!!