The guest list for a pre-school party may swell beyond what you expect. When considering who will be invited to the party keep in mind young children are often accompanied by their parents who anticipate and expect to stay. Parents of young children want to participate and observe their child enjoying themselves. Plan to have parents enjoy the opportunity of interacting with their child. For every child invited expect one or two parents to attend. Also consider if siblings will be invited.
Plan activities ranging from high energy group games to low energy activities the parents can do with their child. Have multiple areas set up so one or two children along with their parents can do an activity and move on to another. All the items needed for each activity should be organized and ready to use: blocks, crayons and paper, cars and trucks, hair bows and crowns, balls and hoops, clay, etc. Anticipate the short attention span of young children: have 5 or more activity areas available. When parents are interacting with their child the party will move along smoothly.
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A survival guide to children’s birthday parties
By Daniel Friedman | April 8, 2013
Parents planing their child’s birthday party know there are hundreds of details to remember and possible choices to make. With busy work schedules and daily household duties, there isn’t a lot of extra time to put together a party that will delight their birthday boy/girl.
Looking through Planning Children’s Birthday Parties: Libby and Penney’s Survival Guide (2012) it’s evident that Valley authors Libby Worsley Crouch and Penny Barlow Liston considered the practical aspects of birthday party planning
They give advice on how to avoid the chaos of a disorganized party, so I’m guessing they’ve been to a few parties that devolved due to lack of planning. Perhaps volume two will dish some dirt on party disasters they’ve witnessed, but in this book they are all business, The book is no-nonsense, with lists, tips, bullet points, suggestions and detail — lots of detail.
Chapter groupings include Important Details, Detailed Theme Parties, Checklists and Suggestions. No extravagant tales of a 1-year-old’s party for 100 guests but they do offer ideas for a few themed parties such as Backward Party, Game of Chance Party and Be a Chef Cooking Party.
Chapter 9 is “Moment by Moment Party Plan Timeline.” Spend the first 10 minutes in welcoming activities, then 10-15 minutes setting the theme. Children are introduced to the parents giving the party and to each other, then informed of behavioral expectations. Then 30-45 minutes of activities, games and crafts. And then snack time, gift opening, clean-up etc. Each section has an explanation and suggestions.
Curious, I flipped to the back cover and read the author bios. They were teachers! Veterans of wrangling hordes of youngsters, maintaining order and making sure everyone’s experience is a positive one. It explains the tone and attention to, well, detail.
If you haven’t thrown a birthday party for your child, or want to do better on your next one, this book will provide you with more than you’ll need. But as every teacher knows, it’s better to over-plan rather than be overwhelmed.
At first glance it may seem too rigid and controlling, but only if you’ve never had a gaggle of kids at your home either not having a good time or running amok without a thought to your decorated cake and meticulously glue-gunned pirate party theme decorations. Because they are teachers, the authors know that outcomes are better when children know what is going to happen and what is expected of them.
The book is useful and thorough. It includes details on sending out invitations, tracking RSVPs (do people still RSVP?) planning and preparing food, planning games, maintaining order, sending out thank you notes, charging camera batteries, and on and on. One excellent rule of thumb they suggest is keeping the number of guests equal to the age of the birthday boy/girl. Extravagant party planners ignore this rule but remember, the book is a survival guide.
Birthday parties aren’t rocket science, mainly because there are no immutable laws of physics governing their trajectory. Things can go awry anytime a bunch of children get cranky or don’t know what to do. This book isn’t for veterans with years of experience, but for the first- or second-timer who will use this as a basis for a well orchestrated party that will leave the celebrants happy and the parents willing to do it again next year.
The only thing Libby and Penny left out of the book is their website: LibbyandPenny.com.
More party planning resources
- Party destinations and venues in Maricopa County
- Party entertainers in Maricopa County
- Party services in Maricopa County
- RAK readers share photos from their favorite family celebrations
Have any Halloween ideas or hints to share?
Go shopping for costumes when they go on sale. Don’t worry about sizes, select multiple sizes, you are planning ahead. Use them for dress up or for a theme birthday party next year.