Staying Indoors

Give your child the perfect birthday party

Written by Akinmade

Practical tips on how to prepare for your child’s birthday party and give the children a memorable experience

Felicia Coker

Children’s birthday parties should be great fun for the children, especially the birthday child. But planning a party for children can be a lot of hassle. However, you and your child can have loads of fun, planning and executing this event.

It is just a matter of articulation and taking care of the necessary details.

The Observers Life talked to some parents and experts in this line. Here are their tips and advice, all aimed at making your child’s next birthday party a memorable one for him or her and the friends.

  • The budget

The first step forward after deciding there is going to be a party for the birthday celebration is to plan a budget. Putting a budget in place will help you to be focused on the planning: what theme and party option you can afford to give your child.

After getting a total amount you should stick to this, just going higher or even lesser by a few thousand Naira.

  • Get the child’s opinion/involvement

The next step is to involve the special child, the birthday boy/girl in the planning. This is important if the child is more than four years old. Start by sounding him/her out on what kind of party he/she wants. But be careful so you don’t raise too much hope and expectation, which you as a parent won’t be able to meet. However, let the child be involved as you go along with the party’s preparation, asking for a suggestion, here and there.

  • Make a list of guests

Make a list of those to be invited to the party. The main guests are your child’s friends. Ask the child, who are to be invited. Then tacitly remove those you consider not appropriate for the party.

Mrs Aina Ologun, MD of Bakalan, an upscale children store, located at Bucknor Estate Lagos, said you need to pay close attention to the guests list as I will play a great part in planning the logistics for the party.

“Pay close attention to the number of guests so you don’t have issues of making less provision of food or drinks. Also don’t invite too many friends and guests so you can attend to everyone well, ” she advised.

If a guest of your child is a school friend, whose parents are not well known to you, you need to collect the parents’ contact details an call them to ask them to come to your child’s party.

Getting a close number of guests expected at the party will help you in other areas of planning for the party. Make a full guests list, grouping them into children and adults segments. The children segment can also be further subdivided into age groups if their age variance is wide. You can have the under 4 years, 4-7 years, 8-13 years, 13 – 15 years.

Hence you might consider having separate entertaining games and stuff for each category and maybe a separate party for the grown-up crowd (parents, uncles and aunties and even grandparents and other relatives).

Note each of these groups might have different requirements: food, games, etc.

Also, in an African setting, uninvited or unplanned guests will always turn up. A guest/ parent would likely bring another child or even an adult not planned for. So be prepared.

  • The Invite

With little children involved, it is advisable that the party take place either should start before 1 p.m. (for morning affairs) or after 3 p.m. (for evening stuff). These period are when the children are active.

From the beginning plan for the start and end times of the party and drop a subtle hint of this in the invite.

You can make the invite more distinct by letting your child add some personal design into it. Depending on the age, the child can help decorate the invite or write the wordings in cursive letterings. You can even splash paints on your child’s left/right fingertips and stamp the outside of the invite.

In the invite, be sure to include your contact details so people can call to confirm or ask for direction to the party’s venue or seek any other details they want to know.

Also as a matter of courtesy give your guests enough time to prepare for the party. Invitations should be sent out at least two weeks before the party. It will be a good thing to set up a system to have your guests reply to your invitations so that you know how many people will be able to arrive. Make sure you ask all parents about the allergies and dietary requirements of their children.

  • Decide on a theme

Decide if you want a theme for the party. Even though it is fun having a theme for a child’s party, some themes might be difficult to achieve and execute. So if this will be problematic leave it out.

But note that a theme will make your child’s party more lively and give great fun for the children and even the adults present. This also helps stimulate the children’s imagination, even dressing and preparing for the party.

The theme can be derived from children’s cartoon, movies and storybooks. Your suppliers can also help in arriving at a theme.

If you have a theme, this can be incorporated in your party’s invites, dressings of the guests, the décor of the venue of the party, games and entertainment, cake decoration, party packs and any other things you can stretch your imagination on.

  • Plan for the games and entertainment

This is the main fun ‘ingredient’ for the party. Note the games don’t have to be the common bouncy castles and slides. You can use your party’s theme to create interesting games for the children. Likewise, your supplier can help out in this direction.

Note that if you create your games, you might likely spend less and be unique in the process.

Good games help to keep the children busy and maybe out of ‘mischief’ while the party is going on.

The games can also be simple activities to engage the children: making the do colouring exercise, face paintings and tattoos (this can be in line with the theme).

If your budget is higher, consider hiring a separate entertainer from the DJ

Other games, not popular in the Nigerian setting, can be organised. These include ‘treasure hunt’, following hidden clues. If you are planning outdoor games, take into consideration the weather at that time of the year.

Most children are in tune with the current musical hits. Music should be incorporated in the fun variety. This can also be used for games like dancing competitions, musical chairs, freeze dancing, musical hot pancake.

  • The food and savoury items

The menu for your child’s party should be carefully chosen with fun in mind. The menu should not necessarily be common food like rice. You can introduce some surprises like savoury items. These can include small sandwiches, mini pizzas, mini burgers, slices of fruit, hot-dog rolls and chicken nuggets.

But whatever items you are including in the menu, make sure they are nutritious.

“You should not put ‘swallow’ in the menu for the children. This will be messy and most of them don’t enjoy eating these,” Ologun said.

The food should be fun and dish in small sizes.

  • The birthday cake and other sweets

This is a must item at the party. Order for it early to avoid disappointment. The cake can be one big one with an impressionable décor. The number of cakes or size is largely determined by the number of guests expected. The cake can be decorated with the theme of the party put into consideration. Its flavour should have a ting to it. If you know your child’s favourite let it be.

Purchase the candles to place on top of the cake, so that your child can make a wish!

Sweets and other goodies can go into the party packets for kids to eat at their leisure and take home with them. Just be mentally prepared for the sugar-high madness every kid will be experiencing.

The cake, the sweets and other goodies can also be included in the fun and game at the party. And don’ forge the ice cream.

  • Organise and supervise the gift basket

Plan for where to put your child’s gifts. And who the trusted person will be put in charge of this. Don’t leave the gift basket unattended or within reach of children.

Also, don’t allow your child to open ay of the gifts while the party is going on. Unless you are ready to cope with the tears of other envious children.

A supervised gift basket enables you to know who gave what gifts to enable you to send a “thank you” note later to appreciate your guests.

  • Venue and space for the party:

You need to carefully plan the venue of the party: the décor, seating arrangements, and other things.

“You can have a welcome banner/area. Each guest is welcomed and pictures are taken with the ‘welcome banner.’ You also need to plan for the game arena and he seating arrangement,” Ologun said.

The seating arrangement involves putting and pairing appropriate age groups. There should be a separate sitting arena for the adults. Let the children have their fun.

Also, ask your vendors to supply appropriate children chairs and tables to make your special guests comfortable while the party lasts.

  • Goody packs

This is a smash among the children. Items in the goody packs should be carefully planned to bear in mind the different age groups of your guests. You do not need to go broke trying to pack the goody packs, just two or more thoughtful items for the different age groups.

Based on your budget for this, you might include storybooks or other educational items in the goody packs, depending on ages. But note for the under 4-year-olds, you must include candies and sweets.

Also, note that the birthday child must get a goody pack too.

  • Get your child ready

Prepare your child for the big event, talk to him/her the evening before the party about what he/she should expect at the party, including other children wanting to play with his toys, see his/her room. Keep out of sight any special toys.

  • Plan for the parents too

There must be something for the accompanying adults, who will stay with the children while the party lasted. Plan for their food and entertainment. This can even include setting up sports viewing corner, especially if the party is on a big game day.

The adults can also have their hands with the games, either separately or parent/child games.

Tips on games:

Make the party must interesting by planning for activity games. They must not be too numerous and each should last for a few minutes.

Some of the game can be:

  • Treasure hunts: children looking for hidden items following clues or even a simple voice hit of no/ yes; hot/cold from the MC to indicate if they are nearer or far from the hidden place.
  • Musical chairs: several children’s chairs are put in a row with toy instruments on each of them. As the music plays, each child goes around the chairs, playing the instruments. When you stop the music, each child puts his or her instrument down. One of the toys is removed and games continue with each child picks up a different one. Start the music and marching again. Stop, switch. Each session, a child is out.
  • Freeze dancing. Play music and have the kids dance. When the music stops, the kids have to freeze. No one has to be “out.” Just play until the kids get bored.
  • Musical hot potato. The children sit in a circle and pass a stuffed toy around while the music plays. When the music stops, the child left holding the toy is “out” (but gets to go somewhere fun). The last one holding the toy wins.

Every child that participate in a game must get a gift, if you are awarding prizes.

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