Thankfully, every child only has one birthday a year, but it can be a very stressful time for mums! If you plan your child’s birthday celebrations well in advance, though, the party can be fun, affordable, and relatively hassle-free.
Birthday Ideas for Your Child
Birthday parties come in all shapes and sizes, so you shouldn’t be afraid to host one that’s right for you. If you’re planning a party, a good rule of thumb is to choose as many children as the age of your child plus 1. So, a 5-year-old could have six friends at his or her party, and a 9-year-old could have 10.
Alternatively, ask your child to pick a certain number of children, and offer to host individual ‘play dates’ for those who do not make the list. You will also need to decide whether parents should be encouraged to stay (a good idea with children under 3 years old), or whether you want children to be dropped off instead (ages 4 and over).
Send invitations as early as possible and avoid holidays that might clash with your child’s big day. Choosing the right 'thank you gifts' can seem tricky, as they can make or break the party, especially for the really little ones. But remember, it's more about the giving than the gift! Inexpensive items will delight your children and their guests – small bags stuffed with items like colouring pencils and puzzle books, toy cars, or sweets.
If you do some research and try to think ahead (by picking up small items for these thank you gifts when they're on sale, for example), it’s sure to be a success.
Timings and Possible Birthday Party Themes
You’re more likely to achieve a stress-free party when the children aren’t already tired, so try to schedule your child’s birthday party at the weekend or after a restful day at home or school. The party should also last an appropriate length of time for the children’s age – a good length is 1.5 to 2 hours for 3 to 5 year olds, and two hours or longer for older children. It’s a good idea to put an end time on your party invitations, so that parents know how long you expect the party go on (3.30 to 5.30 pm, for example).
If you’re thinking of including birthday party games or activities, work out how much time they will take, and in what order you’d like them to be (before or after the food, for example). Themed parties are all the rage nowadays, and they really aren’t stressful to do.
Give your child a set number of birthday party themes to choose from (say, robots, cars, superheroes, fairies, princesses, or rainbows), and warn them that you are going to stick to their first choice! You can come up with fun birthday games, costumes and even party food that fit the theme.
Getting Others to Help You Before, During, and After the Birthday Party
Yes, you’re a Super Mum, but this is one occasion when you should try to get some help! Enlist your family and friends to help you plan your child’s birthday. Stagger tasks over the weeks leading up to the big day; you can also make preparations, like decorating, into fun activities for you to do with your child.
On the day, assign adults different roles. Think about who will:
Take photos – you don’t want to miss the smile on your child’s face when they blow out the candles on his or her birthday cake, or make a lovely mess eating it!
Supervise games – ideally someone who is used to talking to children and can project their voice across a noisy room! Answer the doorbell – not so easy to do if you’re occupied with the little ones.
Play ‘host’ to the adults – making sure they have drinks and food while the kids play.
Oversee the food – handling last-minute preparations like distributing food, handing out plates, dealing with sticky fingers of your little ones. Then, of course, there's one more common cause for stress: the cleaning up afterwards. Don't be afraid to ask your child's guests to help you – if everyone helps, everything will be done in no time at all.
You can even turn it into a little game – who can collect the most empty cups or stray toys? – or give each child who helps cleaning up a small toy or some sweets as an incentive. And for those muddy jeans, the sticky lemonade on your child's favourite t-shirt, and the creamy birthday cake icing on your tablecloth, Surf excel is here to help you!
What birthday party tips do you have for other mums? Did your child’s latest birthday party have an interesting theme, or did you bake a special cake for your son or daughter? Leave a comment below and let us know!