Kids’ birthday parties are a source of joy our family is looking forward months ahead. My child keeps asking when is her birthday ten times a day. Preparations start early and are filled with joyful anticipations. Over years we’ve organised the kid’s party on unique scenarios and several key ingredients appear as constant to the liking of both kids and parents.
I’ll skip the general tips found on any parties organisation sites (make the list, invitations, finding the place etc. ) and share some insights that make us happy.
For a starter, make your toddler a member of the organisation committee. Listen to her preferences. Consult her all the way. Kids can be a great source of ideas for the party’s scenario. Let your kid wear his/her preferred character costume and send the invitations in her name: “the Butterfly Fairy has the pleasure of inviting …”. The response is always 100%.
Make it about the kid: invite her friends not yours. Her school, Week-end activities and usual playground ‘suspects’ will help define the circle.
It’s also about food: opt for a healthy menu: fruits, finger treats, fresh bakeries. Ask other parents for any food sensitivities their kids might have.
Get engaged: be actors for one day. You play the animators role to everyone’s surprise when you disappear for 5 minutes after guests arrival and return dressed in colourful costumes, disguised in a green wig for the Spring fairy role in the middle of winter. It makes your kid proud to have parents who will change their classic business suits for a clown costume and a butterflies hair band’s on a green wig. And you’ll get a moral boost shot to keep you enthusiastic for weeks.
Preparations matter: prepare in advance 4-5 games to play and accompanying music tracks. Mix kids with parents groups. Start with less soliciting games and add more fun as you go. Pass the Parcel is a good starter, an all time favourite party game. They say it works best for ages 3 +. We had 24 month olds who enjoyed it as much. You can pre-prepare the parcel beforehand and ensure the present is wrapped in many layers, each layer with a sweetie/card attached. Sit all the children in a circle and when the music starts they pass it around until the music stops. Whoever is holding the parcel at this point must tear open a layer and the music begins again. This continues until the last layer and the child who removes this wins the prize. For a quick solution, you can buy a pass the parcel game pack. I bought a puzzle and packed it in Christmas wrapping paper left after our season’s gift wrapping.
Follow with Dance on Chairs. It works better than musical chairs as it prevents accidents normal for toddlers groups competing for available chairs. Have a volunteer DJ to tell participants the moves he/she wants to see: “dance with your right hand and left leg, your head and legs together….. ” e.g. as music tracks change. It’s lots of fun! Ask the public to applaud the best performer and give him/ her a prize. It can be a musical CD or a book about the art of dance for example.
Watch your group dynamics and if you see a break is in order, go for “Tell me a story” game. Prepare key words you’d like the story to be about printed on rolled pieces of paper and have the birthday kid offer the basket they are placed in to guests she would like to hear stories from. Key words can be from your kid’s favourite stories or can be invented, e.g. a scones under a spell, a meteorite, a magic river and the Butterflies Fairy, or elephant babies, Snow Whites dwarfs, a magic wand and the Butterflies Fairy. My kid inspired this game when at night she asks me to tell her stories with characters she names. Ask for about 4 guest stories, depending on the party’s size. The birthday kid gets to choose the story-teller she liked best and give a prize to the winner. It can be a stories’ book. Parents of the winner will usually revert with a thank you note which reads “Thank you for the book, it’ s now the favourite”. No doubts, it was earned and well deserved.
Time for dance! Have a Mini Disco, with kids taking over lead role dancer role in turn and the rest repeating their moves. 15 minutes or more of guaranteed fun time! Ask for applauses for the best Dancer and offer a prize to the winner.
Have a game your kid would be leading on by setting the rules and organising others. My kid chose a game she invented – “sleepy bear”: one guest kneels in the centre and the rest dance around holding hands and singing
” sleepy, sleepy bear,
that it’s shoes are dancing.
One two three, one two three,
Dance with me”
And the “bear” jumps up with joy and joins the group. The next child take the place in the circle and the game continues.
The most important thing is to ENJOY everything you do together with and for your child. Allow yourselves the joy of becoming a kid again, even if for a day. Enjoy and share your tips!