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How to plan the perfect children’s birthday party

Got a birthday party coming up? We asked mum and former teacher Niki Morgan for some tips on planning the perfect birthday party for children – here’s what she had to say…. “I think that the perfect birthday party is the one in which your child a lot of fun and is surrounded by people that they love, everything else is just extra details.  However, I think that you can make a party even more fun by having a fantastic theme and tying everything in to suit that theme.”

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1 – Choose a birthday party theme!

This can be anything from your child’s current favourite book, television program or film, to a sport, activity, animal, hobby or other interest of theirs.  Some of the more common birthday party themes (like popular characters) make it quite easy to find corresponding decorations.  If you go for something more obscure then it gives you the opportunity to be creative. I highly recommend having a search on Pinterest, a party planners best friend!

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3 – Choose a fun (and convenient!) birthday party venue

Sometimes the ideal venue will be obvious, based on your theme… wouldn’t it be fantastic for your ‘under the sea’ themed party to take place at the local swimming pool? Other venues to look into and consider are: Home (or a family member’s house), your local soft play centre, or a church hall, local community centre, library or even museum. Check the listings to see where toddler groups or local sports clubs are held – chances are they have halls for hire at affordable prices.

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2 – Make a guest list

It’s time to decide if you’re having just close friends and family, or if you’re going to invite your child’s entire class at school!  The size of your party can have a big impact on the rest of your decisions.  It’s also worth considering whether parents (and siblings) will be staying with their children or if they will just be dropping off and picking up.

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4 – Send out the party invitations – early!

Birthday party invitations can of course be store bought and filled in by hand, or you can easily make your own and print them out.  I personally love to make invitations myself (using a photo program like PicMonkey) with a cute photo that goes with the theme of the party. If you find yourself inviting the entire class, Paperless Post makes it easy to keep track of who’s coming to your child’s party and who hasn’t yet RSVP’d. I also try to send out invitations – or at least a “save the date” email – as early as possible, as we have lots of friends with birthdays around the same time, you want to be sure you’re not planning your little ones party on the same day as their best friends’.  If you are buying invitations, you may want to buy the matching thank you cards at the same time, to fit in with the theme.

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5 – Party entertainment

Sometimes the venue will include children’s entertainment or activities or if you’re just hiring a hall or having the party at home you may want to look at hiring someone to come in. In our area there are some fantastic children’s music classes that will do parties as well. Of course you can also plan your own party games, which can sometimes be a better choice depending on the age of the children.  The party games can also be related to the theme of the party – for example, for a farm themed party you could set up a game of hook a duck, pin the tail on the donkey, and a version of musical chairs – but on hay bales.

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7 – Birthday party decorations

This is the fun part – time to get creative with your birthday party theme.  There are a few great online party shops in which you can order all sorts of plates and cups with different characters or any colour scheme you can imagine.  Then there are banners, bunting, table cloths, and balloons of all shapes and sizes.  If you plan on having helium filled balloons, it may be easier to hire or buy your own helium tank, rather than transporting filled balloons in your car.

I really like to personalise a party by making some decorations myself (and having the children help to make them).  Tissue paper pom poms, signs and banners can all be made and decorated for the extra personal touch.  I also like to have photos enlarged and printed out to decorate the venue – this is especially nice for a first birthday (cake smash and weekly/monthly photo collages look great).

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_counters admin_label=”Animated Counters” background_layout=”light” background_color=”#dddddd” bar_bg_color=”#7EBEC5″][et_pb_counter percent=”5″]Time spent comparing own cake to Pinterest creations[/et_pb_counter][et_pb_counter percent=”30″]Time spent distracted by pretty much everything else on Pinterest[/et_pb_counter][et_pb_counter percent=”8″]Time spent on phone with mother-in-law not really listening[/et_pb_counter][et_pb_counter percent=”26″]Time spent trying to get bumps out of ready-rolled icing[/et_pb_counter][et_pb_counter percent=”6″]Time spent wishing you had listened to your mother-in-law when she was going on about the icing[/et_pb_counter][et_pb_counter percent=”8″]Time spent blowing up balloons[/et_pb_counter][et_pb_counter percent=”17″]Time spent recovering from blowing up balloons[/et_pb_counter][/et_pb_counters][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Hungry Caterpillar party bags” src=”http://reallykidfriendly.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/how-to-plan-the-perfect-birthday-party-very-hungry-caterpillar-party-bags.jpg” alt=”Hungry Caterpillar party bags” url_new_window=”off” animation=”left” /][et_pb_text admin_label=”6 – Party food” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left”]

6 – Party food

I like to plan the food around the theme as well, another opportunity to get creative!  For a party based on the book ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ I served a selection of the foods that the caterpillar ate.  A Gruffalo party could have creative versions of roasted fox, owl ice cream and scrambled snake!  Or you could just choose foods that suit the colour scheme of the party.  If your children are young, don’t forget to provide refreshments – even if it’s just a cup of tea – for their parents as well.

Then we come to the most important part, the cake!  For outside venues I actually prefer to get cupcakes, as they are much easier than slicing cake (and quicker).  I like to get a combination of full size and mini cupcakes so that everyone can choose how much cake they would like.

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8 – Party bags

I know that some people are not big fans of party bags, but I do like the idea that every child goes home with a small memento of the party.  You can buy pre filled bags, or buy the bags and small toys yourself.  You can’t go wrong with bubbles, colouring book and crayons, stickers, small toy, snack, play dough (store bought or homemade), or a mini book

If you would prefer to hand out a single favour, I think that is lovely as well.  A book or soft toy tied with a ribbon would be a lovely way to say ‘thank you’ for being part of the celebration.

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Really Kid Friendly tip: our favourite online craft shop has an amazing selection of party bag fillers, with everything from weird little stretchy animals to pirate tattoos and mini scented stationery. Unlike toy shops where you pay a premium for buying each tiny thing individually, a lot of online shops have children’s parties in mind so you can usually buy your party bag fillers and craft activity sets in packs of 25, 50, and even 150 without breaking the bank.

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And Finally…

The last step is to have fun, and take lots of photos!  I have never heard anyone say that they regretted taking too many photos, so don’t hold back.  If you have a friend or family member with a good camera or who happens to take great photos, ask them to take as many as they can so you can enjoy the moment with your child. You don’t want to forget that moment when your little one is just about to blow out their candles, and they look up at you with a huge smile that makes all the hard work worthwhile.

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About our guest author

Niki Morgan writes a blog called Play & Learn Everyday, about play based learning at home with her two children, Ethan and Ivy.  She is a former teacher, and current stay at home Mum dedicated to having as much fun with her children at home each day.  They do loads of activities, play games, make crafts and play with toys, all the while learning new skills as they have fun.  Niki is originally from Canada, but has been living in the UK for nearly 10 years, inspiring fun activities from two continents and giving the family even more occasions to celebrate!

Find her here:

Play & Learn Everyday – http://www.playlearneveryday.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PlayLearnToday  –  Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/playlearneveryday  –  Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/playlearntoday/  –  Google + – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NikiMorganPlayLearnEveryday/posts  –  Instagram – http://instagram.com/niki_playandlearn

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