Navigating the kids party scene can be rough, especially if you don’t have many experiences at kids parties. I’ve put together a few pointers, for those planning parties and those attending, hopefully you will find them useful. I gathered a few opinions from parents in the know, let me know what you think.
Notes to the planners…..
Who to invite?
Are you planning a small gathering of your child’s closest friends? If so, it’s perfectly reasonable to not invite his/her entire class, we are all governed by budgets, but be weary of embarrassing those not invited. Do not make a grand announcement but rather invite the chosen ones in private. If you are planning to invite most of the class and only exclude a few it could lead to hurt feelings, consider how your child would feel if he/she was left out?
Let them eat cake?
Many of us choose to have our parties at restaurants these days, they make planning the function so easy! In South Africa, its customary to provide the invited kids with a meal no matter what the time, but what about the parents? The general consensus these days is that a platter is put out for parents and anything they want above that would be for their own account. Make sure that the food you do put out for parents is enough, it’s not okay to have 10 parents ‘fighting’ for 5 sandwiches.
We all love gifts, it causes a lot of excitement in all of us but but be weary about allowing your child to open his/her gifts at their party. It could be tempting to allow him/her to tear into the gifts but consider those kids watching on with resentment for not getting a gift. I know its not their party, but have you ever met a rational 3 year old? Rather clear away the birthday girl or boys loot and allow them to open it later. This will also give you the time to gather the names of those who gifted something so you can send out thank you notes/messages or emails.
Keep them busy!
Please make sure that there is some kind of activity to keep your guests busy. Whether it’s a jungle gym, a sandpit or a jumping castle. It’s difficult enough keeping kids in check but consider 15 kids all with nothing to do, things will get hairy fast!
Also, inform parents of the order of events, it doesn’t have to be planned to the minute, but giving parents a rough idea when they arrive, will help them manage their kids better making your party run smoother.
Notes to the invitees…
Please RSVP on time, pretty-pretty please! As I’ve said, we are all ruled by our wallets and when you RSVP it gives the host accurate numbers to work on! When you do RSVP your intention to attend, please do show up, there is nothing worse than spending money on people who don’t show up. Special Note to the host: when you receive an RSVP, please do acknowledge it. It’s so awkward when you send an RSVP and you don’t get a response from the host- you wonder if they got the message, do you send another message; will they have catered for your child/children?
I’ve noticed recently that lots of parents bring their own guests to birthday parties. I’m not talking about an older or younger sibling, I’m talking about grown ups. In the case of a sibling, let the host know if you need to do this, like I said- we are governed by our wallets, ask if it’s okay and only do it when its absolutely necessary. For other grown ups brought along, I just don’t understand why this is necessary? I know kids parties can be awkward but it only lasts a few hours, stick it out. Take the opportunity to make friends with other parents at the event or just spend some time with your child.
I hope you find these tips helpful, let me know if you have anything to add to this list.