Children's party tips
Children's party tips
Avoid party chaos with our top planning tips...
Whether it's a Harry Potter party for budding wizards or a Willy Wonka get-together for little Oompa Loompas, even the most carefree parties need careful planning. Here's how to ensure that the excitement doesn't tip over into tantrums.
The numbers game
Be realistic about how many children you can invite. Toddlers have limited social skills, so keep things small: three to four is plenty. Older children, however, need plenty of space - and can cause havoc. If your budget will stretch, consider booking a venue. That way, it won't be your carpet that's covered in squashed Smarties.
Timetable for fun
The ideal length of time for a children's party is two hours - even then, you might want to lay on a quiet game (such as drawing or storytelling) for the last half-hour. Make it clear on the invitations what time you want parents to pick their children up, otherwise you might find some little guests overstaying their welcome.
By all means book a clown or bouncy castles, but there's plenty of fun to be had with home-made games like Pass the Parcel, while younger children enjoy group activities or singalongs. Older children love themes, usually from popular children's characters: Harry Potter is top of the list at the moment, with Willy Wonka a close second; Spider Man is a perennial favourite with boys, and little girls can't resist a fairy theme.
Food, glorious food
Don't skimp on the jelly and sweets, but try to offer a few healthy snacks too. Hand them out first and save the sugary stuff for the end. Be prepared for mess, and use paper cups and plates to avoid dangerous breakages.
Every party has a few bumps and bruises, so have a small first aid kit to hand. If you're doing a theme, such as Harry Potter, bear in mind that some children might get carried away with accessories: wands, for example. Also, check with your little guests' parents for any allergies.
Prepare goody bags beforehand and keep well hidden until it's time to go. There's no need to spend a lot of money, just a little trinket will do, and avoid too many sweets - you don't want children being sick on the way home.