So – you’re thinking of organising a party – you’ve come to the right place!
While there can be a lot do – and we can certainly help you out – take a look through our help and advice below, for some simple and easy pointers of things to think about and do to ensure a smooth running party that’s a whole heap of fun for the kids.
Home, or Away
The first thing to think about is where you wish to have your party. Having it in the home has some advantages, particularly on the budget, but you have to be prepared for the inevitable house invasion!
Instead, you might have a local venue you can hire – a village hall, school or hotel event room, for example. While this will cost a little more, it will at least save you from having to clear up afterwards!
If you’re thinking of having your party in the home – whether yours, or a friend or family member’s home, here are some things to bear in mind.Preparing your home
Once you’ve settled on your party rooms, clear out all breakables and valuables and anything you don’t want broken to a safe place, and remove electrical items, cabling or any items which could be a hazard if they are tripped over or if they fall. For very small children, consider blocking off access to stairs if you can.
Moving any unecessary furniture, and pushing back chairs and sofas to the back of the room to create more space will help you accomodate your guests. Make sure you have enough seating, both for the children and any parents staying for the duration.
If you are having entertainers, allocate a discrete place for them to get changed – generally, entertainers do not arrive already in costume, and it’s better for the children not to see the entertainers until they have got into character.
If you have pets, it’s worthwhile checking with your guests whether any of the children have any animal allergies, and consider keeping cats or dogs secured for the duration of the party, particularly if they might get disturbed by a house full of people. Otherwise, pets can be a great party ice breaker! If the kids will be eating in the house, make sure there is sufficient seating around the main party table, and keep some extra chairs handy for unexpected extra guests. Consider floor coverings, especially if you don’t want chocolate cakes trampled into expensive carpets!Outside
If you’re having the party in the garden, then again some basic preparation is a good idea, including clearing the garden out of tools, lawn mowers and other potential hazards. If the garden faces onto a road, pay atention to kids running around – you don’t want them running out into the road if they get excitable.
It’s usually a good idea to notify the neighbours if you plan on getting into the party spirit to avoid any potential complaints over noise or disruption – often inviting them to the party (if appropriate) is a good idea.
However, don’t rely on the weather to be kind to you, and always have a backup plan should the weather turn, making the garden off-limits.
You’ll most likely need to give directions to your house to your guests, so it’s best to either put them on the party invitation, or include them with the invitation. Clear directions will help avoid people turning up late. You can always email or print out Google map directions if your map drawing skills aren’t up to much!
Also check out the parking sitation, to avoid congestion, blocked roads or annoyed neighbours if cars overwhelm and spill out of your driveway. If necessary, add some parking instructions and details onto the directions so people know what to expect and where to leave their cars. If there are parking meters on your road, note this and detail the costs.
If you are having entertainment which requires access to your property to set up, like such things as bouncy castles, disco or karaoke rigs, or access for themeing, make sure you let the supplier know how to get where they need to go – you probably want to avoid these things coming through your front room on the way to the garden. And make sure the suppliers know what times they can have access, what time they should be set up by, and what time they can come and breakdown at the end of the party.
If you want to hire a venue, make sure you enquire plenty of time in advance to make sure you get the date that you want, to avoid disappointment. Check on the costs and get a quote in writing, together with the party times, and the times you can get in beforehand to set up, and how long you have afterwards to break down – particularly if your have other entertainment booked which requires rigging (for example, bouncy castles and discos), or if there are other events in that room after you.
Check on the venue’s accessibility – particularly for parking and access. If you don’t know the venue already, it’s often a good idea to go down to the venue to see it for yourself some days before the party so you’re clear on where it is and how to get to your function room or hall.
Likewise, check access for rigging if you are having things like discos or bouncy castles.
Make sure that the venue knows your seating requirements and has everything you need set up for you when you arrive. If you plan of theming the room, make sure you know what you can and can’t do in terms of putting up decorations.
You’ll most likely need to give directions to the venue to your guests, so it’s best to either put them on the party invitation, or include them with the invitation. Clear directions will help avoid people turning up late. You can always email or print out Google map directions if your map drawing skills aren’t up to much!
Venues often have to follow standard noise regulations, so if you plan on making noise, for instance a disco or karaoke, make sure the DJ knows about it, or you risk everything coming to a halt if your party is too noisy!
Also, check that the venue has changing facilities and mother/baby facilities if necessary.
You may want to speak to friends and parents of other children to see what they’ve done for their kids parties, and what was particularly successful for them. Failing that, you can always give us a ring and chat about your party requirements.
It’s always fun to do something different to what the kids might have had before – so be imaginative and creative and find new fun things for the kids to do. Find out what your kids love, and think about doing a party around that. If your kids are really into a particular toy, film, cartoon character or sport/hobby, then what better to offer them a party themed around the things they love!
Whatever you choose, Plan, Plan, Plan! Don’t leave it to the last minute, or you risk disappointment if you can’t sort out your requirements in time.
So, what should you do for your party? Of course, a successful party is going to include fun, games, music, dancing and grub – but what exactly should you be looking for? We can of course help you out here, as we’ve been running awesome parties for years, but here’s some tips to think about:-
Firstly, if you’re stuck for ideas or inspiration, have a look around our site, we have *loads* of party ideas to choose from, whether your party is a boys-only, girls-only, or mixed affair.
When it comes to costs, decide on a rough budget and try and stick to it – we know your kids are priceless, but not *every* day! It’s ok to go over budget for a particular reason if there’s something you *really* want, but it’s not necessary to go deep into debt to provide a fantastic party!
Be creative – what about turning your themed party into a costume party? Be clear if this is the case on the invite, so all your guests know what to expect and have time to prepare an appropriate costume. Dressing up is a great way to add an extra dimension to the party experience!
Try to keep your theme and colours consistent, for an authentic experience – if you try to do too much, or have multiple themes going on it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not careful – often the simpler the better!
Allow plenty of time to setup, and don’t forget thinking about how to put up your decorations – stock up on Blutack, double-sided sticky tape, ribbon/string and other fixings, so you have everything you need to create your party environment.
Have a think about who you are inviting, and make sure your home or venue has facilities for the numbers of kids you are planning on inviting. Be aware that the not everyone can turn up, and sometimes more people than you were expecting can turn up, so plan on one or two less than expected, and up to a few more than expected, and make sure you have enough food, seating, prizes and party bags for everyone. Make sure you know how the numbers of guests affect your overall party budget.
We generally recommend a maximum of 20 children per entertainer at the party – any more than that and it’s too many children for one person to entertain. So if you’re having a 30+ childrens’ party, budget for at least two entertainers.
Send out the invites plenty of time in advance, to give your guests plenty of notice and time to plan. Include clear directions of how to get to the party, and any other instructions necessary – what to wear, what to bring, where the parents can park, and so on.
You can send invites by post, email, or hand-delivery, depending on what makes the most sense for you. Remember you’ll need to collect all the names and address details in advance, and do check a few days after sending to make sure everyone received theirs and are in fact coming – it’s not unheard of for things to get lost in delivery.
Once again, think of your theme and choose or make invites to fit into it. You can buy invites, make them with your kids, or use online services to create custom party invites – the personal touch is always a nice touch!
Games are a party essential, with lots of classics and some fun twists on new things as well. If you are trying to come up with ideas for party games, we’ve got a few suggestions for you to bear in mind.
There are some obvious classic games that you might think of first – things like Musical Chairs as an example. While these can be fun, we recommend you try to stick to games that are inclusive, that don’t rely too much on making children be “out” – otherwise you might find you’re playing a game with a small handful of kids left “in”, while all the other kids who are “out” may be standing around bored, or with their attention wandering.
Instead, thinks of games where everybody plays, and one or two kids per game can be rewarded the “winner” or an “outstanding” player, and get a prize. This keeps the level of fun up, and keeps the kids engaged.
Games should be age appropriate – if you’re party is for very small children, then keep the games simple and easy to follow.
If you have a themed party, then one of the things that really works is to have your games fit into the theme as well. If you’re having a Pirate Party, you’re kids should be Walking the Plank! If you’re having a Harry Potter themed party, there should be some serious Spellcasting going on! You can either create some unique games, or twist some of the more popular classics to fit your theme. Be creative, the kids will have a far better time for it!
Make sure you, or the entertainer running the party, can control and direct the fun. You seldom want kids running around crazily out of control, so be firm and clear, make sure you can be heard and easily understood. Be firm and authoritive when necessary, but always be positive – the kids are there to enjoy themselves, not be told off!
If you have any special requirements during the course of the party, make sure to communicate these to the party entertainer before hand, and remind them occasionally through the party if necessary.
If you’re having extra party options, such as discos, karaoke, bouncy castles and so on, then these can all be taken advantage of for some fun. How about a Highest Bounce game on the bouncy castle? Best karaoke Elvis Impersonator? Who’s the Funkiest Disco mover? Again, there is lots of scope for creativity, but do think of these things in advance. With plenty of options, you can always keep the party flowing and the fun level sky high!
Have plenty of game options – you might find that depending on the kids and the day, they will respond differently to various games. It’s a bit like being a DJ to find the music the crowd most react to – if the kids aren’t responding well to a particular game, move on to the next one. Find the ones that work the best – and you won’t always know in advance which ones that will be. Otherwise, you might be struggling to come up with game ideas on the day.
Are you catering yourself, or getting third-party catering for your food requirements? Again, make sure you have your food in plenty of time. Kids don’t like to be kept waiting when they’re hungry!
Make sure you understand and cater for any specific dietary needs, and whether any children with specific allergies might be attending – vegan/vegetarian, dairy and nuts in particular.
It’s a good idea to have a few extra places to cater to the odd unexpected guest.
Food that’s easy and quick to prepare, and isn’t very messy to eat, will be your friends here.
But it’s still a party, and the kids will love it if the food is fun, colourful and delicious!
If you need cutlery, you’ll most likely be better off with the disposal plastic type, for reasons of safety and the ease of clearing up afterwards. And speaking of clearing up, bin bags for the left overs are a necessity!
The cake is your party centrepiece, so get something that, where possible, fits into the overall party theme. Make sure you have candles and matches or a lighter kept out of the children’s way, and if you are giving out pieces of cake to take home, bring plenty of napkins – and make sure the cake is big enough so everyone can have a piece!
How long should the party last? Too short, and it’s over too quickly – too long, and you can find it difficult to keep the kids attention the whole time, and you have to also come up with lots of entertainment too!
Our parties at Just Kids Parties are typically two hours, and we feel that’s a nice balance to fill with games, entertainment, food, cake, dancing and fun. Three hours and beyond starts to become a bit of a marathon, and if you are going for the party endurance record(!), make sure you have various activities planned out through that time to always keep the interest and attention levels high.
At the start of the party, make sure there are some light activities to do while the kids are arriving, as this can be spread out over time. Our entertainers will usually spend this time doing some balloon modelling, face painting, having fun and getting to know the kids.
Once your guests have all arrived, the party games can begin. Try and give an even spread of prizes out throughout the games so everyone gets something, and pay extra atention to the star/s of the party, as it is their special day – they should be winning stuff too!
Towards the second half of the party, you’ll be breaking for food, and giving the kids a little time to recharge. it’s often a good idea to have some thing to do to entertain the kids once they’ve eaten, as some will finish faster than others and it’s preferable to have something to do – drawing, creative arts, some fun toys are all fun things to do here.
Then you’ll be gathering everyone together for the cake and birthday song (if appropriate). This is the time to make the star/s of the party feel extra special.
After the food, depending on the energy levels, you might want to keep the games a little less frenetic to give everyone a chance to let their food settle. Think more “pass the parcel” than “team relay”, but if the kids still have a large amount of excess energy and you really want to tire them out before they get home, by all means break out the disco fever!
Once it’s time to go, get the party bags ready and hand them out. Check each child is being collected by their parents, and if a parent is running late, make sure the child affected is reassured and kept occupied.
Once everyone is out the door, it’s time to clear up, and clear out!
We all enjoy keeping the memories of our kids growing up, and so it’s quite common to want to take pictures and/or video of your party.
Make sure in the week before the party that you charge up your batteries (and a spare), and check that your phone memory, camera memory cards and camcorder tapes have been uploaded to your computer and cleared so they are empty. You don’t want to accidentally record over something important, or run out of space and not be able to take any more pictures.
If you can, consider giving a camera or two to the kids to take pictures – this is always fun, and you will end up with pictures that you’d never have got otherwise. Obviously, don’t give your expensive camera out, but cheap point and shoots or phone cameras are great for this.
For better memories, don’t just stand up at the side and take photos/video looking down on the children – get down to the kids eye level, and occasionally, where it’s not intrusive, consider getting in amongst the action. And it’s often worth gathering everyone together for a few group shots to really remember everyone that was there – this should only take a few minutes – and take a few shots as someone will invariably have their eyes closed or look awkward if you only take one picture.
If you really want something great, and you’re not a budding “pro” shooter yourself, you might want to consider, at least once in a while, to get a professional photographer and/or videographer in, particularly if it’s an imporant party – ensuring you’ll end up with far more professional shots or video than you could have otherwise. After all, there’s no going back for re-shoots!
What use are photos if no-one sees them? It’s a really good idea to *share* your photos, so that everyone who went to the party – and those who didn’t get the chance – can experience it. So, where appropriate, upload the pictures to the internet on popular sharing sites, and encourage any other guests who took photos to do the same, and forward the links around to the guests and other friends and family members. Let them see how awesome your party really was!
And if you had a party with us, by all means send us your shots so we can include some on our gallery pages! We love seeing happy kids having fun, especially when we helped make it happen!
Our Happy Parents
Kieron loved his karaoke disco so much he didn’t want to leave! All of his friends had so much fun, and Kieron told me he had the best day ever! Now to get some earplugs for the karaoke machine we bought him!
Thanks JKP for Minnie’s princess party. Rapunzal is her favourite princess and she was perfect, especially with the princess themed games they played ! Minnie’s already asking for her next party!
Harry absolutely loved his Harry Potter party! His favourite part was making ‘potions’ and taking part in the ‘quidditch’ race! Thanks to Perry, our party leader who gave Harry the exact party he wanted!