10 Tips for Throwing a Great Party for Kids

I have 25 years experience of kids parties, I think I may have learnt what works and what doesn’t during that time. I’ve tried all sorts, from small parties in my living room, garden parties, parties in a hired venue with entertainers and parties in kids play areas. I have to say though, I love them, and I’m willing to put everything into them and believe me, they can be very hard work.
So my first tip has to be has to be….

1. Decide How Much Work You are Willing to Do.

Are you willing to spend hours making the food, organising party games and cleaning up afterwards? If not then maybe you should consider holding your party in a hired venue with caterers and entertainers, in a kids play area or in a restaurant. This means that all the work is done by others and you can sit back and enjoy the party. 

2. Do You Need a Theme?

If you are doing the party yourself, or hiring a venue but are still in charge of the decorations and table wear, then you need to decide on a theme. Now, you may think you don’t need a theme and this is fine, but you will probably find your kids are begging you for a Disney Princess or a Micky Mouse party. One of the most simplest but effective themes I’ve seen is a Neon Disco, everything is just brightly coloured and the kids can come in their favourite neon clothing or disco outfits. 

3. Who is Doing the Catering?

You can hire someone to do the catering for your party but it’s cheaper to do it yourself. It really doesn’t need to be complicated, we are talking kids here. even if you don’t want to make sandwhiches you can just stick a few pizza’s in the oven along with some chicken nuggets and party sized sausage rolls and that’s the savoury sorted. For dessert you can make jelly or trifle and if you are not confident in making cakes then just buy some cheap cupcakes and a few chocolate fingers or party rings. I like to add a few grapes or strawberries to the table to add a healthy touch. Do be prepared though, getting the food ready can be really time consuming, especially if you are doing it all yourself…you could always ask for help from friends and family. 

4. Displaying the Food

It’s always nice to have a nice table covered with party food, with a pretty table cloth and some themed decorations. However, it’s not always necessary, especially when you don’t have room. When I had a small house I used to find that picnic boxes, which can be purchased from Party Stores, are great. You just pre-fill them with some food before the kids arrive and then hand them out. They are great for garden parties so the kids can take them outside and picnic. 

5. Party Games

This is where party entertainers are a godsend! Entertaining kids can be a pain, but there are few things that can help. First of all remember that you can’t have any losers! If you do you will most likely have tantrums and tears, depending on the ages of the party goers. The answer is simple, when you have a game make sure all players get a little prize, even if it’s a sweet. When a child is ‘out’ then call them a winner and give them a prize then tell them to sit out of the game so you can pick the other winners. I always play along with them so I can be the first ‘winner’ because no child wants to be the first out of the game.  A good tip I learnt more recently is to  give each child an empty party bag at the beginning of the party and let them collect their prizes in it to take home at the end…you can always pop a slice of cake in before they leave if you wish. If you don’t know what games to play, then take a look on Pinterest, it’s always a great source for any kind of party. 

6. Invitations

If there is one thing I have learnt about kids parties, particularly school age kids, you never know how many are going to turn up for sure. I have experienced even more problems because all three of my littlies have birthdays in the summer holidays. I do my best to get phone numbers of parents of the children invited and give them a call a few days before the party and remind them. I always cater for the number of children invited even though generally only half of them will turn up. When my older children were younger they had much bigger numbers at their parties because their birthdays are term time.

As for the invitations, you can get them to match the theme of your party if you wish. I’ve not always done this. You should include the date of the party, the time it starts and finishes and any special instructions like fancy dress. I also put on my mobile number.

Think about how many children you want at the party. If you invite the whole class and they all turn up you will end up with 30 children. If you are using a hired venue then you may be restricted on numbers because you will be paying for each child. However, if you are hiring a hall then you may want to fill it as much as possible so the more the merrier. Get your child to decide who they want to come and then use your judgement based on how many you can cater for.

7. Activities

As well as games you may wish to provide some activities for the children. I generally start a party by having the children make something. For example, at my daughter’s My Little Pony Party we coloured in cut out ponies and stuck wool on them for tails and manes. Other favourites include making bracelets, planting seeds in little pots, or decorating biscuits…which they can eat later. I had a princess party for my other daughter and we made crowns and tiara’s which the children then wore for the duration of the party.

My Little Pony Activities
Princess Tiaras

8. Let Them Play

You need to decide how much structure you will have to your child’s party. If you plan every minute you risk wearing the children out and they will become un co-operative. I had a party in a box for my daughter and it involved followed a very detailed set of instructions for games and activities. It was lots of fun, but once I noticed the children losing interest I sent them outside to run around the garden and play. After about 15 minutes they were ready for more games and puzzles.

9. Squabbles

Depending on the age of the children and whether or not their parents have stayed at the party with them, you may find yourself dealing with some squabbles between the children. If you notice two children not getting on with each other you could try splitting them up into different activities. It’s a difficult situation if a child is being naughty, but you have to remember that it’s not your responsibility to discipline them. I find it’s a good idea to keep a phone number of all the parents so you can give them a quick call if the child is being particularly disruptive, or has become upset or hurt. Useful too if a child starts to feel poorly.

10. Hometime

Make sure the parents know what time to pick up their child. Have their party bags ready, they are always less upset about leaving when they have a handful of goodies to take with them.
I always find I’m cleaning up for a good while after a party so I make sure I have a little treat for myself at the end of the day, I will deserve it.

I now have three small children with their birthdays all within a month of each other! Parties are even more hard work so now I’ve started thinking of alternatives. I do love parties though, so one of them at least will get a party and this year it’s going to be Boo who wants a Frozen Birthday party, that should be fun in July!!

Finally, I’d like to end with this little video of a box a goodies I was gifted to help with my daughter’s birthday party. It contains sweets and toys for the party bags, party bags, balloons, a banner, a poster, a pin the tail on the donkey game and a lovely yellow t-shirt from Vertbaudet.

I’ll leave you with some of my birthday cakes.

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Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this post, I did want to share my party tips with you. I was however, gifted the box of party goodies from Vertbaudet. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own…as are the cakes!


  1. May 26, 2014 / 7:08 pm

    great tips – you certainly do have lots of experience of parties. I tend to try to do as little as possible these days as I just can't muster the energy for a proper party. Gorgeous cakes you've made too! x

  2. May 28, 2014 / 9:24 pm

    Wow, that's a lot of experience.

    We were lucky with N's last one (well, we did a May party, although his birthday's in Jan, as the other NCT children all had parties then) as I won the use of nursery's treehouse/forest school, so we didn't need anything organised apart from pass the parcel. I hate the everyone's a winner thing though – we never had that as children, so I hate it 's the norm now. Was a right pain remembering to pop in a treat when doing each layer of wrapping the parcel!

    • May 29, 2014 / 1:14 pm

      I know what you mean about the 'everyone's a winner' wasn't done when I was a child either. It depends on the age of the children at the party, I think it's great for keeping the smaller ones happy. Also, as a mum of autistic children who find it difficult to understand it's been a saviour in terms of preventing meltdowns.

  3. May 28, 2014 / 9:34 pm

    What a great list of tips. We just did a birthday party for D and found that a creative activity in the middle was a great way to recharge!

  4. May 28, 2014 / 9:36 pm

    Lots of great tips, I love the idea of the picnic boxes & starting with a making activity:) Have to admit we go for the easy option of a soft play area!

  5. May 28, 2014 / 9:47 pm

    Some great ideas. My eldest started school this year so this is our first year of a real party, fortunately we did a joint one with some else in the class so it was easier than I feared. I may come back here next year though if we do one on our own.

  6. May 29, 2014 / 9:01 am

    Fab tips, love the picnic box idea especially! It has been a while since I have done a small childs birthday party, but they will be back on the agenda again soon as my youngest heads towards 3!

  7. October 14, 2014 / 11:45 am

    Hi Anne nice tips especially the one about let them play because kids don't want a huge party they only want time to play with friends and family member.

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