Published On: Mon, Apr 22nd, 2013

Disaster Proofing Your Kids Party

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

Disaster Proofing Your Child's PartyKids parties are most popular in the kindergarten grade. It almost seems to be used as an announcement to the world. “I have arrived at big school, and you are my new friends”. But kids parties unlike an adults party relies heavily on an agenda carefully planned. While you may be able to tell a group of adults to wait while you rummage for the forgotten matches to light the candles, at a kids party, this can set the scene for chaos.

While organisation is vital with every minute needing to be well thought through, this is by no means the only safe guard to the successful kids party. There are many simple strategies you can put into place to ensure a smooth running. Next time planning, consider the following.

1. Time. Is it school holidays or the day before or after a public holiday where people are likely to go away or forget? Do you know of any other children having a party that weekend or close to your intended date that may influence attendance? Is it a time of year when it tends to rain a lot? Consider the space you have to work with and how easily it would be to transfer the party indoors with your intended amount of children. Try not to have a magic number of invites, instead have a round about number. This will help to ensure your child doesn’t end up in the tricky situation of inviting Jack or James simply because you tell them there is only one spot left.

2. Before planning, sit your child down and ask them their thoughts. While you might not be able to follow through with all their wishes, you should be able to work something out inline with what they request. The lead up to the party for your child is just as important as the party itself. That’s why getting them involved any way you can is an important part of the great experience for them.

3. When shopping for your party, know what you want to buy before you go. Lack of thought will end up costing you more money.  In saying that, ALWAYS have extra. If you get that child turn up that didn’t rsvp or your child’s cousin has decided to bring their own cousin, all of a sudden you don’t have enough. Two extra of everything is a good start.

4. Delegate to your partner jobs to be done both before and on the day. Most are happy to help if you let them know what you need doing. Any friends who owe you a favour, now is the time to call on them. The more kids, the more crowd control you will need.

5. Kids being kids can tend to forget in the excitement of the moment their manners and embarrass us terribly! Talk to your child before their guests arrive and role play what you want them to say. Roleplaying will help your child to better remember. What do we say when they arrive, give you a gift or say goodbye?

6. Just because your kids love the family dog, doesn’t mean the guests will. Pets out of sight.

7. Should parents stay or go?  If you’re happy with either let them know on the invitation, especially for preschool and kindergarten mums who may be apprehensive about leaving and feel uncomfortable in asking. Looking at trends, preschool parents tend to want to stay, most kinder parents generally leave. Get parents phone numbers if dropping children off so you can contact them in an emergency. For those that stay, have nibbles available. While you may not have two seconds to sit down, they will feel more welcomed if invited to help themselves to a plate.

8. Kids who arrive first will need to be kept busy while waiting for others. This time can be chaotic if children don’t have an activity to tend to.  Group activities at this time can be difficult for late comers to walk into so choose activities that have an individual focus such as plaster painting or the decorating of their treat bags.

9. Have an agenda and write it down guesstimating how long each game will take. (Yes games are a must) Usually it takes longer than you think, but always wiser to go under than over. Try to alternate activities between the louder and then the quieter games. Example, statues being a dancing game is well followed by pass the parcel being a quieter more settled game. This helps to calm the kids down, assisting you to keep control of behaviour.  If you don’t feel comfortable organising games and you can afford to, there are plenty of businesses online that specialise in providing your kids with someone who can lead the fun and games. Word of mouth is important here. Ask around and see who others have used and what they have to say about them. Warning, this will cost a pretty penny, but to many it’s worth every cent.

10. Consider cupcakes. They can be easier to manage than slices of cake creating less mess. You can still do the large cake, but also have cupcakes as part of the cake display to hand out. The cake plays a big role. As fearful as it may seem, if you feel the kids are old enough not to run their finger down the sides, have the cake on display. So much effort is put into cakes these days, it seems such a shame that all at the party only see it for a short time before being eaten.

11. What to do with that tricky kid? Remember that this is a party and behaviour can easily become over the top. We don’t want kids leaving being upset because they got into trouble. Smile, speak positively, and remember your child has chosen for them to be their guest. Reminding kids about the rules of behaviour as a group before you start each game can be helpful to especially those particularly bouncy kids.

12. You want every child to go home happy with something exciting and not pondering on that pass the parcel they didn’t win. Sure lolly bags are a winner, but you can achieve that wow factor other ways, it’s all about being creative. At our last party we made fairy and dinosaur gardens as an activity. Pretty much a foil tray with soil where children were provided with a variety of materials to choose from to create their garden. Beats taking home a lump of sugar, and even turned out costing less.

13. Once the party is over, find a quiet little corner to put your feet up and drink tea. The mess can wait and you will deserve it. Tell your child they did a great job helping, and you can’t wait until it’s time to plan another one, well at least in a couple of years… or so.

Lastly, encourage your child to take any party favours to school to the child that was unable to attend. It will be most unexpected and put a smile on both children’s faces. Encouragement of this type of action helps to teach kids to be mindful of others, and what a great way to finish off the party experience.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2013
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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