Planning a party for the little ones? What can possibly go wrong?
The comedian, W.C. Fields knew what he was talking about when he advised; “Never work with children or animals”.
Why? Because they’re unpredictable and you can never be certain of outcomes when they’re involved.
That being said, it is possible to host a stress-free children’s party and these tips will show you how.
A STRESS-FREE CHILDREN’S PARTY MEANS BEING ORGANISED
Just like the Scout motto, the best advice is to be prepared.
Being organised is the number one ingredient to any successful party – for kids or adults. It may not protect against disasters, but a well-planned party can go a long way towards avoiding them.
I hosted themed parties at home for each of my three sons until they reached the age of around eight when it became ‘cooler’ to party away from home. Then it became cool to party at home again around the age of 15 – but that’s a whole other story. Maybe a book. Probably a thriller.
Anyway, I also hosted themed birthday parties for my Wacky Workshops arts students as another strand to my business. These parties always, of course, included creating crafts that complimented the theme of the party.
It’s no wonder then that I would come up with reasons to host parties for the Goddesses. Sometimes I have to wonder if I’m some kind of masochist. Maybe I should get that checked out.
Our latest party, an annual tradition, was, not surprisingly, a fairy party.
All four Goddesses were invited, along with a few of my friends’ granddaughters.
The ages range from one to eight, so planning for this is extra challenging.
Oh for a flat piece of lawn that gently cushions little knees during falls. Just kidding. We have happily removed all our lawn and our yard is terraced and full of big, hard bush rocks – the perfect environment for scrapes and tears.
So, in order to try and avoid disaster, I have to cut down on their opportunity to run and to do this I plan like mad.
A STRESS-FREE CHILDREN’S PARTY MEANS PLANNING ACTIVITIES
My second big tip is to keep those kids so busy having fun that you’ve orchestrated, that they don’t have time to get into trouble.
I plan several games and craft projects for children’s parties and estimate in my head how long each activity will take. I allow a little extra time for eating and socialising and ensure it all adds up to the time of the party. For kids in these age groups, I recommend two to three-hour long parties. Anything longer and the kids are tired and stop listening and cooperating.
I love the idea of themed parties. It makes planning easier as you have something to focus on for the games and activities.
A STRESS-FREE CHILDREN’S PARTY DOES NOT HAVE TO BREAK THE BUDGET
These days you can buy matching sets of plates, cutlery, decorations, cups, lolly bags, and so on from party stores. The exercise can become quite pricey and guess what? The kids don’t care about that stuff. They want the food, fun activities, and games.
We often buy that stuff more to impress any adults coming as it is totally lost on the kids. String up a few balloons and they know it is party time.
A friend recently told me the total bill (paid by her) for her grandson’s two-year-old birthday party was $400 – OUCH!
I didn’t even bother with the balloons for the fairy party and all the little fairies had a ball without them.
The only decoration was the big poster fairy picture for our “pin the star on the wand” game.
My next best tip is that it really doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Take advantage of the ability to spend less while the kids are little – it’s a sure thing the costs go up as they grow.
I used the colourful set of plastic plates, cups, and bowls I own – cheaper and better for the environment than their matching paper or plastic counterparts.
I put a lollypop, a tiny packet of lollies (we’re all trying to cut down on sugar so that was it for sweets), a balloon, and two little cheap party favour gifts in the lolly bags. By the time the kids left, their bags were full because of the crafts they had made.
I bought about four little prizes – around $2 each from the cheap shop – to give to the game winners, plus several more at the same price for pass the parcel (which I called pass the treasure as it sounded more like a fairy game). The total cost was no more than $20. I paid about the same for food, so the party cost $40 – much better than $400.
As an arts and crafts teacher, I have the advantage of having a lot of supplies on hand. However, even if you have to buy everything, the materials for the craft activities are not expensive.
We made fairy wands using sticks collected from outside, wire, beads and ribbon. You can get the instructions in my post, How to Make Fantastic Castles and Wands, Fit for a Fairy.
We made flower fairies using artificial flowers, pipe cleaners, foam balls, and wool or dolls hair plus googly eyes.
Then we made mini fairy gardens using teacup-sized bowls (bought at the cheap shop for 50 cents each), potting soil, cuttings from existing succulents growing in my garden, and recyclables. You can find out how to make these in my post, Four Funtastic Gifts to Make for Christmas.
Other ideas for inexpensive craft activities include decorating ‘treasure’ rocks with old nail polish and glitter. You could then use them as a game by hiding them in the garden for a treasure hunt.
I hid a bunch of tiny trolls and told the fairies the trolls had strayed away from the fairy garden, into the front garden, and were lost. I put a smiley face on little pieces of paper with markers matching the colour of the trolls’ hair (red, yellow, green, purple, pink) and had the kids pick a piece of paper randomly from a bowl. Their mission was to find the troll with hair that matched the smiley face on their paper.
If they saw a troll that didn’t match, they needed to stay quiet about it. This was such a hit I have had to play the game with one of the Goddesses every week when she has her ‘Grandy’ day.
Older children may enjoy making flower pens. I made one for each of the fairies before the party and had them ‘pick’ the flowers out of the garden as they were leaving. These only require artificial flowers, pens, glue and ribbon. You can get the instructions in my post, Make a Flower Pen Project.
STRESS-FREE PARTY GAMES
Aside from the troll game, the kids played musical toadstools (same rules as musical chairs). This was challenging for the younger fairies who became a little upset when their toadstool was removed, but it was a wonderful, safe environment for them to learn the ropes of party games.
They played pin the star on the fairy wand. I bought a large sheet of cardboard and drew a simple fairy figure with a wand on it. Then, I cut out little star shapes and put each child’s name and a little bit of Blu-Tack on them. We twirled the little fairies, blindfolded, and led them towards the picture. The one who placed their star closest to the wand won a prize.
Pass the treasure was a big hit that even the one-year-old enjoyed playing.
She didn’t miss out when it came to the crafts either. I used her supplies to demonstrate to the other fairies how to make the crafts, after which the creation was hers.
As the older kids in our group get beyond some of the games, I’ll enlist their help to assist the smaller ones. This always worked wonderfully during my Wacky Workshops classes.
I make sure to have everything little thing ready for the craft activities, plus the games and food (come back on Wacky Wednesday to check out my fairy party recipes) the day before. This way I am not rushing around stressfully hours before the party.
We managed to get through the party with only one minor injury – a stubbed toe – proving, that when the kids are kept busy with supervised and fun activities, it is possible to host a stress-free children’s party.
Happy planning and be sure to share this post with anyone you know who hosts parties for little ones.
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.