Eight birthday party ideas and tips to celebrate the special day

As a child, what were your favourite memories? The chances are a birthday party – your own or someone else’s – factors into your top 10 somewhere.

Most children love parties. The games. The decorations. The entertainment. The cake. The presents. The goody bag they take home with them. What’s not to love… if you’re a child?

But for a parent, hosting a birthday party for your child can be a nightmare. When should you hold it? And where? Who should you invite? What entertainment and detraction do you need to plan? And what about food and party favours?

It can be more than a little overwhelming – even more so if you’re working full time. Or if your child’s birthday party comes after a string of perfectly planned and executed parties they’ve attended.

But don’t worry. You don’t need to drive yourself crazy with stress to throw a party your child will love and remember (for the right reasons). To help you plan and throw a brilliant party for your child, we’ve assembled eight tips.

1) Avoid going overboard

It is easy to get excited with big ideas, such as full circus troupes and orchestras. But it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve (and afford)! So keep this in mind when brainstorming themes and ideas.

Before starting to plan your event, work out what your budget is, and any other restrictions, such as venue and guest list. Also consider how many people you have who can help, and how much work you are personally prepared to put into this event.

Setting clear expectations beforehand will help you in working out decisions like whether you should host the party outdoors or indoors.

If you’re busy, it’s always a good idea to outsource some, if not all, of the preparations. This can be as small as hiring caterers or an entertainer, to young the whole hog and booking a professional event planner to throw a birthday party everyone will remember – and you can enjoy more, rather than dread because you’ve given yourself too many jobs and responsibilities.

2) Think about throwing a video-call party for the entire family

If you can’t get everyone together in one place, or are limited in your venues, consider throwing a video-call party for your family instead.

Yes, this will take a bit of extra involvement, but it can mean that you can get everyone together at the same time – a feat that is often impossible with face-to-face parties.

To get started, you should know how to create a video. You will need basic skills in video editing to pull off this idea, but it’s worth it for the finished result.

Planning a video party today can also mean you eliminate the risk of it being cancelled at the last minute, or limited by people’s availability to travel or fear of meeting groups in person.

By using video conferencing software to throw a virtual party, everyone can come, regardless of location and health. Your virtual attendees can be asked to dress up in party clothes or even fancy dress, if you wish, and a congregated onscreen can be used to hold a party to remember.

3) Send electronic invites

Sending paper invitations these days can be an expensive affair. You’ll need to factor in the cost of designing and printing them (or buying them off the shelf), then you’ll have your postage costs. And don’t forget the time it takes to write, address and post the invites too.

One easy way of cutting down on these expenses is instead to use an online invitation maker. Today you can find many different websites with the options of creating your very own electronic invitations, completely free of cost.

An added advantage of using these sites is that they allow you to keep check on your your guest list constantly, and even send reminders to people who have been invited and not yet responded.

4) Have family and friends make video cards

Traditional cards are always a safe option, but video greetings are interactive ways to help children know how special they are. You can ask your family and friends to use a good quality movie maker to record their birthday wishes for the child.

This is one method that can’t go wrong – as long as your family have (and can use) smartphones. Straightforward videos made on smartphones can work really well. And videos cards can easily be created using different applications.

These applications can also be used for setting up groups for friends and families to join, view, and record each other’s videos. This way, the greetings can even be livened up with different voice effects and filters.

Of course if you have older family who aren’t used to smartphones they’ll either need some help, or may simply prefer to send a paper card as usual.

5) Get your timing right

It makes sense to throw your party on a weekend if you want to maximise your number of attendees. If your child’s birthday falls on a holiday date, or when many people are away or busy, you can opt for a small, family affair on the actual day and a big bash for their friends afterwards.

As for the duration of the birthday party, it’s fine to limit it to two hours only. Often parents make the mistake of arranging parties that run on too long. The third hour gets deadly, while the fourth can be chaotic!

You don’t want to run out of food, entertainment, energy and good will!

6) Have fun

It’s your child’s birthday party, and it won’t be much fun for anyone if you’re too busy and stressed to join in the celebrations, the food, and the entertainment. So yes, while you may be organising it – don’t let having the perfect party come between you and actually ‘being’ there for it

It’s better to have a party that is less perfect than to be stressed and hate every moment.

7) Play to your strengths

On that topic, while you may have big ambitions, be realistic about your talents – and what you actually enjoy doing. Don’t plan a very decorative event if you hate decorating. Or an exotic buffet if you struggle with cheese sandwiches.

Plan an event that you are capable of putting on with ease, or can reasonably outsource. And play to your own strengths. If you’re great at planning games then ensure you have some fun games ready. The more you enjoy the planning, the less stressed you’ll be and the bigger success the party will be.

8) Don’t forget the dessert table

If there’s one thing virtually every child LOVES, it’s dessert. So don’t skimp p the sweet stuff at your party. If you want to give it the wow factor, include a dessert table with everyone’s favourite treats on it.

Just make sure you plan the timing carefully. Don’t wheel out the sweet stuff too early, or you’ll just have a room full of hyperactive, and possibly queasy children. Save it for the end and ensure that your party goes out on a high.