A little girl at a party surrounded by friends and family about to blow out her cake candle.

Planning Children’s Party: Ultimate Tips for Parents – Part 2

Some parents relish the idea of throwing their youngster a party and others can’t wait to close the door as the last child scurries out the door, talking a mile a minute.



The food you need to organise will depend on the time of day you hold the party. Although every party needs some level of party food! 


Of course you’ll have a cake to finish things off, but when it comes to the main course, keep it simple and balanced. Finger foods are simple, and they usually go down well, just make sure you have a healthy option to go with it. Not every child will be content with crisps and pizza, although most of them will! Based on the sugar they are likely to consume, it’s important to get some savoury items into them first – if you want to limit the insanity later! 


It’s a good idea to ask on the invitation if there are any allergies. It’s not worth the risk! If you haven’t asked to be on the safe side and leave anything with nuts or seafood (i.e. fish fingers) off the menu. 


Make sure you have enough food, running out is not an option! Better to have leftovers as hungry children = grumpy children. An extra bag of crisps or piece of fruit could be a life saver on the day! 


When it comes to drinks, some parents are dead set against their children having fizzy drinks, some object to juice. So, it’s good to think about options. Having some bottled water as an alternative or sticking to sugar-free squash can eliminate this conundrum. 


Food is another area where you can carry on your theme, cutting sandwiches into shapes or buying a cookie cutter can turn a traditional cheese sandwich into the bat signal or dancing shoes.  


If parents are staying it might be worth thinking about a few adult nibbles as well. 


Some of our favourite party foods are: 

  • Pizza triangles 
  • Sausages 
  • Simple sandwiches
    (ham, cheese and peanut butter and jam) 
  • Vegetables and dip 
  • Cheese and crackers 
  • Pretzels 
  • Crisps 
  • Fruit kebabs or dried fruit 
  • Biscuits, and of course CAKE! 



Entertainment can be tricky and expensive. The first decision is: are you doing it yourself or are you hiring someone to do it for you? Obviously doing it yourself is cheaper, but hiring someone for an hour or two can reduce the hassle and eliminate a desire to pull out your hair. 


If you are going to do it yourself, make sure you have LOTS planned, it’s amazing how short attention spans equate to short games, and unless you are lucky and have a lot of garden space, you’ll need to be organised. This is where a theme can come in handy. 


Changing traditional games to suit your theme can be fun and entertaining. Depending on the age of your child, musical chairs can become musical manhole covers, or lily pads. Pin the tail on the donkey becomes pin the wings on the fairy or you can bob for golden pirate treasure (aka apples), pass the parcel or in moments of sheer madness sleeping lions! Your own creativity is the only limit here. Remember that if the game you are playing eliminates children, you’ll need to entertain the ones that are out! Having a small prize for everyone who plays tends to avoid tears as well. 


If you’ve decided to bring in an entertainer, make sure you know what they need and have everything ready well in advance of their arrival. Nothing worse than a delay in the entertainment that could have been avoided. 


Remember to check the references of any entertainer you hire; you don’t want to find out they are a scam on the day while you have a room full of children looking forward to seeing Bobo the Clown. Or ask around and use someone who had been recommended by a friend. 


Some of our favourite entertainers have been: 

  • Clowns 
  • Chefs 
  • Magicians 
  • Punch and Judy Show 
  • Face painters (while you can do it yourself, you’ll need a lot of practice to look professional!) 
  • Drama coach 
  • Sports coach 



Gifts will be different in every circle of friends, but once you’re in with the crowd you’ll start to know how it works. In some circles everyone is expected to bring a gift, others may collect and buy one gift and others may give money to the child if you let them know they are saving for something special. There is no right or wrong so don’t feel pressure to conform! 


Traditionally in the UK, gifts are opened after the guests have gone home. But as cultures merge this is less clear, so it’s up to you how you play it. If you do open them at the party, make sure you have an adult close at hand to write down who gave them what as gift tags and cards have a way of going walk about and trying to remember later is a logistical nightmare! 


Thank you notes are a must, first it’s polite and second of all it’s a great habit to get your children into early in life. Recognising that someone has put thought into what they are going to give you and realising that they didn’t have to! How you do this is up to you and depends on how old your child is. We’ve found that writing them and having your child sign them can shorten the process. We’ve also had children draw a thank you card and colour copy it for a more personal thank you. 


If you have opened the gifts at the party, and your child has said thank you to each child in person a more generic approach can be used where there is a thank you note included in the party bags. 

Party bags 

Most people wonder how much they should spend on party bags and what should go in them. 


It used to be simple, a few sweets in a bag and the children were satisfied, now it has become at risk of being sucked into “keeping up with the Jones” territory. 


What you put in the bags is up to you and can go along with the theme. 


Our suggestions on how to handle party bags: 

  • Set a total budget for party bags, this can be as low as you wish – remember this is a thank you not a GIFT! 
  • Avoid any sweets or chocolate that contain nuts! 
  • Buy items in bulk and divide them between the bags. Things like wrapped sweets and chocolate work well for this 
  • Make the bags what you want them to be and don’t get caught up in the competition! 


In some instances, the children will have made something at the party, from a decorated t-shirt, to a piece of pottery. In most cases this substitutes for a party bag as the children will be taking it home with them. 


Think about the venue of your party, you don’t want to have too many decorations, but you also don’t want to end up with blank walls and tables. 


Remember kids will inevitably make a mess, so don’t pull out your coveted disco ball, or you’ll spend the whole party wondering if it will survive! You can find some cool decorations online (don’t forget to factor in delivery time – it’s not good to leave this till the last minute), but you can also get everything you need for less than a tenner at a Poundland or equivalent store. 


Decorations can be as simple as balloons and streamers or as elaborate as wall displays and replicas, just remember to stick to your budget. 


In the current climate, a lot of parents are nervous about having images of their children appear online. Some will be reticent towards having cameras around their kids. 


To save yourself a headache later, it’s a good idea to find out, in advance, if there are any issues. 


Put parents’ minds at ease by letting them know you will only post images of your own child on social networking sites. 


If we can impart a few final words of wisdom, it’s PLAN, don’t wait till the last minute and remember it’s JUST A PARTY! 

If you missed part 1 of this series, you can view it here.



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