How to create a memorable birthday party for your child
Since my kids started primary school, they have each been inundated with birthday party invites almost every week. Just to give you an idea of numbers, there are 30 children in each class, which means that we generally receive just under 60 birthday party invites per year.
So, it is almost obligatory to host a birthday party for your child these days. The problem is that these birthday parties can become quite expensive when you need to think about hiring the hall and an entertainer/party package, along with, food, party supplies, party bags and, of course, the birthday cake. Some parents set the bar high and spend hundreds if not, thousands of pounds on creating a memorable birthday party for their child. And, some parents make everything themselves, including a 3-tier birthday cake (*cough*).
So, either way, you should start by having a good think about how you can make your children’s birthday party go from ‘meh’ to ‘wow’! After planning and preparing for quite a few birthday parties myself and attending what feels like hundreds of birthday parties, I now have somewhat of an idea of what I think is fundamentally important to include at a birthday party. Here are Motherhood Diaries’ tips on how to create a memorable birthday party for your child.
Think about your child’s interests and pick a suitable theme
Is your child active? Do they love sports? Do they like creating and decorating things? It’s important that the running theme of the party suits your child’s personality so that they will really enjoy every aspect. Picking a theme also allows you to be more specific in other areas (like the party supplies) and that can help reduce costs in the long run, especially if you buy as part of a package. Aron loves superheroes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), so we decided that the running theme was going to be superheroes with a TMNT birthday cake.
Before you go ahead and buy all the party supplies and party bags, take a step back and think about what you need to do after you have picked a theme. How many kids do you want to invite to the party? Having an idea of numbers will help you sort out the best location that can accommodate your group size. Then, you can send over ‘save the dates’ ASAP to your intended guests, while you get the invitations and other bits of the party sorted in the interim.
Sort out the guest list
Do you want to invite the whole class at school or a select few of their friends? Are siblings invited? Once you have a rough idea in mind, say, 30 guests, look around venues to see who and what can house those guests. Sports and leisure parties are generally more suited for larger numbers, whereas a private party at home or even at the cinema can suit up to around 8 or 9 guests. Once you have got a rough idea of numbers and you have an idea of the theme, it’s time to start looking for ideal party venues.
Get the venue sorted
So, now you have an idea of the theme and a rough guide of guest numbers, you can find a venue that should accommodate. Remember, you need to think about what your child would prefer. Aron loves anything with high energy, so I decided to go for a sports-related theme for 30 guests (his entire class). Luckily a sports centre in our local area offers sports party packages, so we managed to hire a ‘Trampolining and General Games’ party, which included 2 coaches (the entertainment) and a room to lay out all the party food and decorations. We had to think about the party food ourselves, as it was not included in the package. However, some packages do include food, so it’s worth checking out any venues that offer a party food element. Ideas for parties can include:
- Soft play parties (some venues also include party food in their package)
- Hiring just the hall and sourcing the entertainer and food yourself
- Sports packages, mostly found in local school sports halls or leisure centres
- Bouncy castle parties
- Home and Garden parties (you save the cost of the venue and host in your own home)
- Princess parties (generally includes princess-style entertainers)
- Lego Party, which involves hiring a hall and Lego professionals to bring a huge amount of interest/theme-related Lego pieces for the guests to build. A few weeks ago Aron attended a Star Wars-related Lego theme party and the kids had so much fun building Lego according to the entertainer’s instructions. I will be considering going down this route in the future.
Getting the venue sorted means you can plan around the space and the party services you will get and, subsequently, send confirmed ‘save the dates’ for your guests to RSVP to the birthday party as soon as possible. Sometimes you can send save the dates without a location in mind, but you would need to make sure that you can secure a suitable venue on that date to avoid any last-minute changes that may, ultimately, result in guest cancellations on the day.
Send the ‘Save the Date’ now and invitations at least 2 weeks before the event
So, you have your date sorted, you have a rough idea of how many guests you would like to invite, and you have the location secured, so now you need to alert the guests. A simple email or text will suffice, just to make sure the guests pencil in the date of your child’s birthday early and arrange their own plans to attend. This will also buy you some time to sort out the real invitations to formally invite your guests to your child’s party. I like to make an effort on the formal invites because my boys feel a certain sense of pride when they are handing them out to their guests and I get to keep an extra one as a keepsake. I use a small business called Kenzie’s Cards who offer printed personalised birthday invitations (alongside other special events), sometimes with the option of adding personalised photos. I have used them for a few years now and they always deliver good quality on time, every time. Worth taking a look!
Here is an image of Aron’s party invite (created by Kenzie’s Cards) last year. I’ve blocked out the personal details and included the type of information that was displayed on the invite.
As we opted for the sports package, entertainment was in the form of sports coaches and equipment, as well as music during the food portion of the party. However, if you are hiring just the hall, you can make the party more interesting by hiring a theme-specific entertainer or pretty much any entertainment you want, including pirates, clowns, magicians, and Lego experts. Hiring entertainment can become expensive, sometimes costing as much as £250 for an entertainer alone. However, ParentVille is a quick and easy planning tool that can take the stress out of trying to source these entertainers yourself and assist in finding entertainment suppliers within your budget at no extra cost. You can consider other options like purchasing arts and crafts equipment from Poundland or Costco and have an arts and crafts party. Let the kids make something awesome during the party that can also double up as their party bag too. Add some music in the back and some age-old games like pass-the-parcel or musical chairs and the 2-hour party will fly by due to all the fun-filled activities!
N.B – A friend of mine recently told me about her genius idea of buying everyone a set of paint and a plain white T-shirt, so that they could decorate their own T-shirt at the party. Once they had finished, they got to take their personalised T-shirt home as a party bag, so she didn’t have to hire an entertainer or fork out extra for the going home gifts.
I have experimented a lot with party food throughout the years and I have realised that less is definitely more, especially at children’s parties. I now stick to the below staple party food, which seems to be the most successful (based on feeding 30 guests, plus their parents too!):
- Cheese & Tomato Pizzas (you can buy them from the store, but I generally order from Dominos at a 2 for 1 discount)
Wholemeal caterpillar sandwiches, which include the following fillings:
- Tuna, cucumber and Philadelphia cream cheese
- Cheese & Tomato
- Fruit kebabs or cupcakes (apples, red grapes, strawberries, banana)
- Various crisps and crackers
- Veggie trains (bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, celery, lettuce)
Now, normally I would recommend buying the birthday cake if you can afford it. However, my son’s one birthday wish was for me to make him a TMNT birthday cake, so I had to suck it up and attempt to make my first ever proper cake, which didn’t turn out too bad, but it did take me over 6 hours to make. If you want to make the cake and you have a knack for it, that’s great! There’s no stopping you from giving this a real go. If you think your time is better spent elsewhere, then ParentVille list some great birthday cake specialists who can create a bespoke birthday cake according to your requirements.
Think about your party supplies and extra embellishments – and don’t overspend!
So, all the major party components have been sorted out and now you have to think about the little embellishments that will make the party stand out. Items like tableware, party banners, and balloons etc can all be theme related and you may save money if you buy a tableware set, rather than the individual items. But, theme-related tableware does come at a premium, so if you’re pinching pennies, just head to the major supermarkets and buy bold coloured tableware that matches the base of the theme. For example, my son’s 5th birthday party will have a PJ Masks theme, but as I have not managed to find any PJ Masks-specific tableware, I have just opted to go for royal blue as the main colour of the party supplies and I have saved a huge chunk of money doing this.
ParentVille is a one-stop party shop that connects you to recommended party suppliers in the London area. As we opted for a superheroes theme for my son’s birthday last year, we received the following Superhero party supply package from Crate a Party:
– Superhero themed paper plates
– Superhero themed napkins
– Blue and white striped straws
– Dark blue plastic cutlery (knives, forks and spoons)
– Superhero themed paper cups
– Thank you cards designed by Crate a Party to go with the theme of the party
– Superhero ‘Happy Birthday’ banner designed and made by Crate a Party
– 5 red, 5 yellow, 5 dark blue and 5 black latex balloons
– Silver balloon ribbon roll
– Multicoloured spotty tablecloth
– Superhero packet of table confetti
The Superhero Party Supplies package costs £7.50 per child – So, for 30 children that would be £225
You can find cheaper supplies at your nearest Pound Store or Supermarket. However, it is important to note that the quality may not be the same as Crate a Party’s party supply package, which all comes bundled together in one box and fits the theme of the party exactly. So, instead of sourcing all the items yourself, you may find it easier to go for the practical version that Crate a Party offers.
Most people now do one useful gift, rather than a bag full of useless gifts and I am inclined to agree with this mindset. In the past, I thought that the more a child gets in their party bag, the more excited they are at receiving it. And, this may still be the case for the child, but for the parents, it’s a nightmare! So, I would seriously consider getting one decent gift instead, something that the child may get multiple uses out of, like a jigsaw set, a water bottle or a book. The parents will be grateful! I would suggest browsing through Parentville’s Party Bags & Sweets collection to see if you can find something suitable for your child’s party. Oh, and I always add a cupcake in the party bag, just as an extra sweet treat for the guests to take home. If you’re looking for theme-related cupcakes, Caketoppers specialise in cakes, cupcakes and printed icing edible toppers for delivery across the UK. They can personalise your cupcakes with a photo, logo or message. At my son’s party, I personalised the guest’s cupcakes with the TMNT crew, which went down very well with the guests.
Expect to not be in control of everything
You may have planned your party to a ‘T’, but on the day anything can happen. Not all the guests may turn up, or the venue may create some delays in the schedule. Maybe the food doesn’t turn out as planned or the entertainment bombs. Look in your child’s eyes. Do they care? Are they having the time of their lives? Then, throw all that negativity to the wind. You will get some parents who will complain that something wasn’t up to scratch, that’s normal. You can’t please everyone. As my mum always says:
“Give it your all, planning and preparing before the event because you can’t change what happens when it happens.”
I use this mantra in everything that I do and it has saved me a lot of stress going forward.
Video of Aron’s 6th birthday party
Taking into account everything that I have just said above, here is a video of how my son’s 6th birthday party turned out after careful planning and preparation.
P.S – It’s nice to send out some Thank You cards to the guests after the party to acknowledge their attendance and thank them for their generous birthday gift. Crate a Party’s Superheros Party Package included some great Thank You cards, which we swiftly sent out a few days later.
Have you got any tips on how to create a memorable birthday party for your child? Please share wish us in the comments below.
*Disclaimer – Motherhood Diaries was gifted a party supplies package from Craft a Party, in collaboration with Parentville