15 tips for planning a stress-free birthday party
Throwing your child’s birthday party can seem daunting, but with a few tricks, it can be a relatively calm occasion
For the next stage in my Organix No Junk Journey, they’ve asked me to write about birthday parties.
So far I’ve planned around 20 birthday parties for my children, some successful, others less so. I used to get a bit stressy about the kids’ parties, especially for the two of mine whose birthdays are just a few weeks apart. It felt like a constant round of booking, baking and balloons.
Party bags, birthday lists, themed party-ware, balloons, choosing organisers, monitoring replies – it can go on and on. You’re like, what’s going on here? It’s just a three-year-old’s birthday party!
But I’ve since learnt a few things to make it easier, while also providing optimum fun for the kids:
Host most parties away from home where possible
If your child is aged four plus or you’re inviting more than three kids, consider taking the party away from your house and sticking it anywhere else instead – the park, the church hall, beach, sports hall, soft play area, climbing centre…. Anywhere. Just not at home.
At home, you have to factor in cleaning and tidying, moving furniture, buying and cooking adult snacks and drinks… and that’s before you’ve even started on the games. Plus the kids can end up spurning the fun in favour of an impromptu playdate in your child’s bedroom – gah. Then you’ve got to clean up at the end of it.
Throw it elsewhere and you come home afterwards to a tidy, party-free house. Bliss.
2. But for toddlers, there’s nothing better than a party at home
It really doesn’t need to be complicated for tinies – invite two or three of their friends for pass the parcel, a game of musical statues and some dancing, and they’ll think it’s the best thing ever. For the rest of the time they can just play while you catch up with their parents. For this kind of thing, a simple playdate type meal is great, like sandwiches or sausages and mash, plus Organix Goodies Mini Gingerbread Men or Oaty Bites for a sweet finale before the cake.
Make the food easy, as well as healthy
Offer a balance between a healthy meal that the kids will eat and your stress levels. They’re important too, particularly if you’re not getting tons of sleep.
I’ve been there and done that with the hours spreading bread, cutting sandwiches into beautiful shapes, making yards of carrot sticks, forgetting drinks, panic-buying drinks, cooking mini sausages, burning the mini sausages and so on. And I’m so over it, I’m afraid. It’s time-consuming, a chore and adds a whole new dimension to your to-do list – and, depending on their age, the kids don’t eat quite a lot of it so it gets wasted.
Nowadays, my preferred party meal involves a quick call to the local pizza delivery company that morning for margheritas to arrive at the optimum time. Ok, it can be expensive but so can a full-on party tea that you make yourself, so I just factor it in as an essential part of my budget instead of something else.
Offer healthy sides, like bowls of crunchy cucumber, red pepper and carrot sticks, plus grapes and berries. Don’t forget the drinks. And breathe.
3. Freeze the birthday cake
I prefer to make the birthday cake as it tastes better, I know which ingredients have gone into it and my kids prefer it. But I completely agree it’s time-consuming and am usually looking for ways to make it easier. Here’s one from a friend that I’ll be trying: bake the sponge the week before and freeze until you’re ready to ice it.
4. Put someone else in charge
I’ve found that if left in my hands, the party doesn’t necessarily run smoothly. I prefer to spread the responsibility so that someone else is in charge of the action, whether it’s the soft play party helper, the fairy you’ve hired or your partner. I focus on dishing out the drinks, taking the kids to the toilet, sorting out squabbles and making sure the party bags are doled out. (Completely forgot about them at one party.) The kids have fun, and I enjoy the party too. Job done.
5. Lay on some crafts
If the party is at your home or a church hall, kick off with a craft activity. It’s a gentle start, allowing latecomers to be absorbed without missing any of the more active fun. Plus the crafts they produce can provide the basis of the party bag.
6. Have a naice bottle of wine ready
There’s nothing like the thought of a glass of wine to keep you going through those pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey tantrums. Good luck!
Here are nine more tips from Organix for birthday parties:
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