Each year, you only get one chance to get it right; to make that day a magical day of memories, laughter and fun and choosing your the right party entertainer could be the first tentative step to success or the first blundering nosedive into disaster!!
1. Party time
All the best parties involve food!! When you’re scheduling your party, try to arrange it around the usual time children eat, to incorporate lunch or tea; around 11am to 1pm or 3pm – 5pm. This way all that lovely party food is more likely to be fully enjoyed and not wasted.
Also think about the stage your child is at (likelihood is their friends will be similar). Do they still have an afternoon nap? Are they getting grumpy by the end of the day? If you have a young child an earlier party can work much better. Late afternoon parties can often mean your child has to have to wait all day for their big party. This can leave them feeling very tired and overwhelmed when the party does eventually start.
2. Location, location, location!
If you’re thinking about whether to hire a party venue or host the party at home, you may want to think about numbers (including parents) and the potential for chaos and mess. For under 5 years olds the parents tend to stay for parties, which is lovely as you can get to know them a bit better, but it can make it a bit of a tight squeeze in your house. So it might work better to hire a local hall.
Also the kind of entertainment you’re thinking about will dictate where you hold the party. A bouncy castle party in the middle of February, for example, is not very practical for most of our living rooms!
Try to pick a venue that has parking so you can load and unload easily and so your guests can be safely dropped off and picked up. It is worth putting balloons outside your venue so that people know where the party is. Your local entertainer will have suggestions of venues that have worked well for them in the past, so it’s always worth asking them.
There’s no need to go it alone, friends and family are often willing (and experienced) helpers, as are older siblings. If you’ve hired a party entertainer you won’t need to be there to entertain the children, but for an under 5 year old party, where the parents tend to stay, you will need to make all the parents cups of tea and coffee. Most entertainers don’t get involved with the party meal, so you may need some reinforcements getting all the children sat down and fed.
For parties for over 5 year olds, the parent tends to drop the child off. You may need to comfort any children who get upset or need extra attention.
Do ask for peoples contact details in case of an emergency, just so you are not left with a very distressed child that you don’t know and you can’t contact their parents. Also, if you are left with a child that isn’t yours at the end of the party you can contact the parent / carer to see if everything is ok and when they are coming to collect – They may have got delayed!
It’s a good idea to have a pre-printed sheet so that it’s easy for you to collect these contact details at the beginning of the party.
4. How many children should I book the party for as I don’t know who can attend?
If you have an ideas of the size of party i.e. 10 or the whole class, this is a good guide to go on. Check with your party entertainer how many you will be charged for. As you can never guarantee how many children will attend, most entertainers have bands of numbers and associated costs, so you know what the cost will be for example 1-10 children, 10-15 children etc. Have a chat with your entertainer about this as they’ll be able to guide you.
5. How far in advance should I book?
Your child’s birthday date isn’t going to change so if as soon as you’ve decided on what party you’re going to have, it make sense to book it. Popular entertainers can get booked up months in advance, but if you’re not booking with someone who’s been recommended, make sure you check reviews and ask for recommendations where possible.
6. What about Safety?
Make sure that you have a well stocked first aid box to hand – you never know when an over excited child can slip and cut themselves. Party entertainers should be CRB/DBS checked, first aid trained and have their own first aid kit as well in a case of emergencies.
If you’d like some reassurance about the entertainer or activity that you’re hoping to book, the Children’s Activities Association has been set up to help parents and children’s activities providers by providing guidelines and a code of conduct. If your entertainer is a member of the CAA, you can be reassured that you’re in good hands.
7. What information do I need from the parents?
It’s useful to check for any allergies and if it’s sunny bring some sun screen and ask the parents if they are happy for this to be used, or for older children you can ask them to bring their own. Also make sure that you ask if a child has any worries or concerns – a 6 foot Peppa Pig welcoming the children to their party tea may seem like fun to you, but could be the stuff of nightmares for a little person!
8. How should the room be set up?
Most halls have trestle tables and chairs, so you can use these for the party food. Your party entertainer may need tables, and they will advise on the best layout for the room. If it’s nice weather and there is an outdoor space, you can move the party outdoors.
It’s a good idea to have a ‘presents’ table. If you are thinking of sending out thanks you cards, make a note of who the presents are from – it’s very hard to remember what everyone gave afterwards!
9. What should I put in the party bags?
Typically they are filled with small toys and sweets, and can take a lot of time beforehand, so try to keep it simple. Some party entertainers will supply goody bags so it’s worth checking before you make your own up.
Another idea is to get creative at the party (t-shirt decorating, arts and crafts or baking) so that the end result is part of the party bag.
10. What about sharing photos of the party on social media?
Before you post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, do ask the other parents is that OK- it’s important that every child is treated with respect at the party and not everyone wants photos, particularly of their children, on Facebook.