Birthday Party Ideas and Children’s Party Tips
Here you will find some excellent birthday party ideas and children’s party tips based on 25 years experience as a professional children’s party entertainer.
- A village hall is not expensive and well worth the money – children are excited and want somewhere to run around, there’s nothing to get broken and there’s usually a car park, kitchen, and toilets, and everyone is in one room, so no one is off getting up to mischief, and it should conform to health and safety regulations.
- Children don’t need to have music playing all the time, so it is best just to have it on when it is relevant to a game. If you want it to create atmosphere that is fine, but make sure it is suitable for the theme and the age. Whatever you do, DON’T play disco or dance music! Nothing winds children up more and they are excited enough anyway. If you want wild out of control children, and a terrible party, there is no better way to achieve this by playing disco music!
- If you book an entertainer, (Professor Paradox is highly recommended if you live in South West England), don’t put the show right at the start of the party. Children need half an hour to settle, run around, burn off a bit of energy, and there are always one or two late comers. I suggest time to run about, then organise a game or two. It’s a good idea to have a knock-out game like musical statues just before the show, then whoever is out can go for a wee. That way they’ve all been and they aren’t all trying to use the loo at the same time. If one child needs to go during the show, then six more will suddenly need to go!
General Children’s party Tips
- Don’t have all boys parties, particularly if they are seven or eight year olds! Your boy is of course a charming young gentleman, but some of his mates won’t be, and the presence of girls has a calming effect.
- When the children arrive don’t let the parents go until you have written their phone number alongside the child’s name on a sheet of paper – and unless you know the children, put a sticker on them with their name written on it.
- If you are in a hall with a stage, DON’T let children play on it – I’ve seen children accidentally pushed off and blood all over the place will even spoil a Halloween Party!
- When playing a knock out game with younger children, present the child who is out with a small reward. It doesn’t have to be much – a gold star sticker will make them very happy and cost a couple of pennies!
Parties don’t have to be wild and noisy. I’ve been to some very successful parties that began with a creative session where the children made a mask or a hat, or decorated box. It’s really easy to do, just get a book on things to make from the library. There is the added bonus of children having something to take home afterwards, which saves you bothering with those horrid party bags.
- If you know a teacher, rope them in to help. Most parents can control small numbers of children, but teachers know how to organise and control larger groups and that’s a useful skill at parties!
- One very useful children’s party tip is to have a whistle – children are programmed to stop what they are doing when someone blows a whistle.
Other Children’s Parents
- Remember that this is a child’s special day and make the children central to the event. If adults are staying and are not focussed on the children, expect poor behaviour from children (and I don’t blame them). I’ve been to thousands of birthday parties, and the only time they don’t go well is when the adults are behaving badly! In particular:
- Remember that in some cases when the whole class is invited, you may not even know all the parents. Don’t let them hang around doing nothing as they will just get in the way, drink tea, and generally be a nuisance. Either encourage them to go home or find them something to do!
- Don’t serve alcohol. Even mildly tipsy adults are not a good idea at a children’s party, and it doesn’t take much in the middle of the day. If it’s a family and friends party, then serve the wine when the children have gone home.
- Don’t have a party in a pub function room. Adults are used to socialising in pubs and will just chatter and generally get in the way. I have stopped doing shows in licensed premises, because the adults just don’t behave.
- If you are having an entertainer, make the adults sit with the children and join in. If you don’t they will talk at the back. The children get distracted and the show is ruined. Remember, this is an occasion for children not adults. The most difficult problem I have to deal with as a party entertainer is inconsiderate parents!
- Make adults join in the games, but make sure that they let the children win. Children love this and it gives the groan-ups something to do.
- OK, having said all that, adults joining in, playing the games, and being a bit silly can really make a party go well. Just remember that they can sometimes need more organising than the children!
- Parties are traditionally held on Saturday afternoon, but this isn’t always the best time: Often the birthday child has woken up early, is excited about the party, and had chocolate cake for breakfast. Children tend to droop around mid afternoon (so do a lot of adults), and the birthday boy or girl can often be past their best by then. I’ve been to quite a number of afternoon parties where the birthday child is tired and grumpy, leaving the parents stressed and saying never again! Lunchtime always works well. Have the children arrive around eleven thirty, half an hour settling down time, a one hour show, then food (they are hungry at this time of day, so they’ll eat it). End with a few games, and then it’s over and you have the afternoon to wind down and relax.
- After school is good too, but you have to give them food and drink first otherwise they’ll flag before the end.
- As for food, keep it simple, and make it fun. Tinned hot dog sausages are much easier than trying to fry them. Check out the Pirate Food page for some ideas.
- Remember that appetites vary according to the time of day. Children will eat more at lunchtime or late in the afternoon than they will mid afternoon.
- Lastly remember it’s a very special occasion that only happens once. Relax, enjoy it, and re-discover the magic of a child’s world – they’ll grow up faster than you could ever imagine.
- It’s worth having fancy dress theme of some sort as it gives children a focus. I’ve been to parties where the birthday girl is a princess but nobody else has bothered and the boys have come in their football shirts. And guess what? They behave like they’re at a football match! Even a simple party theme can help things along.
- A theme is great fun, and themed parties are easier in the long run. A pirate Party for instance will capture the children’s imagination and they will want to play the roles, and will be happy charging around being pirates. There’s loads of information about pirate parties in the pirate section of this site.
- Generally it is best to stick to as broad a theme as possible, so fairytale, pirates and princesses, or fancy dress, work well because everyone has already got a costume. Children have flexible interpretations of party themes and if a child wants to go to a party as Spiderman, then he won’t be put off it’s a cowboy party, and remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune!
- The most popular theme is Pirates and Princesses and it’s also the easiest to do. You’ll find lots of ideas, tips and information about successful pirate parties in the pirate section of the site. Professor paradox also has a very funny pirate show (of course).
- If, like most parents, you don’t like giving children party bags full of sweets and rubbish, how about a book instead? Its generally cheaper and you can bulk buy boxes of assorted children’s books from suppliers like The Book People.
You Don’t Need to Spend a Fortune
- And talking of money, you don’t have to spend loads on throwaway party goods, and expensive treats; imagination costs nothing! I remember a Halloween party where the children were avidly dunking ‘goblin’s fingers’ into a ‘bogie dip’ and happily eating raw carrot sticks and avocado dip without realising they were eating healthy food. And another where they had plain white plates because the witches had stolen the colours, ‘but if you look very carefully, you will see faint traces of the colours on the plate after you’ve finished eating. It’s amazing what they could see in the ketchup remains! Creativity is free, and you certainly won’t see expensive props or gadgets in my shows.
- The cost of a party adds up with all the food and serviettes, tableware and loot bags, not to mention the entertainer, so why not have a joint party with someone with a birthday around the same time? It reduces the cost by nearly half, there are more people to help, and it really makes no difference to an entertainer like me whether there are twenty children or forty.
Lastly remember it’s a very special occasion that only happens once. Relax, enjoy it, and re-discover the magic of a child’s world – they’ll grow up faster than you could ever imagine.