The dos and don’ts of stress-free party planning

Stop stressing over your child’s upcoming birthday party with these tips for hosting a party that you, your child, and your guests will enjoy.

If you’re stressing over your baby or toddler’s upcoming birthday party, stop right there! You and your child can experience the joy and magic of turning another year older without giving you gray hairs and forcing you into sleep deprivation.

Here’s how you can celebrate another year around the sun without the crazy stress.

Don’t hire an expensive venue

Parties at home are great for first and second birthdays. Children this age are still quite egocentric, require constant supervision, and are not quite ready to grasp the party concept. If you don’t have the space at home, ask friends or family if you can have it at their place.

Don’t invite everyone you know

For a first birthday, you may be tempted to include everyone as it’s such a milestone event. But remember, this is a choice – not a rule. If you try to limit the number of children to 10 or less you will probably have a far more relaxed time.

Do skimp on  decorations

When it comes to décor, go easy. A few matching party boxes, serviettes, balloons, table cloth, and banner in a theme or colour is all you need, plus the invites. The themed party plates will end up in the dustbin anyway.

Do choose simple snacks

This is a mistake many parents make – and a costly one at that. Children have small appetites, so huge quantities will go to waste. Keep it simple. As long as the knee-high guests recognise it and can hold it in their hands, they’ll eat it. The snacks and treats should be fun and appetising, so get creative. Great party foods for kids include fish fingers, mini hot dogs, chicken nuggets, sandwich animals with jam, peanut butter and cheese spread, cocktail viennas, cheese wedges, and fruit juice.

Don’t serve adults a sit-down meal

You don’t have to serve adults a three-course meal. In fact, finger snacks are best for parents. They are easy to manage while holding a toddler. Good choices are sausage rolls, savoury pastries, chips and dips, and pizza slices.

Don’t waste money on goodie bags

Goodie bags are not a necessity. We all know it’s a waste of money for more sweets our kids don’t need and for cheap toys that will break in the car on the way home. If, however, you are determined to have goodie bags at your child’s birthday party, keep them simple. A cookie wrapped in pretty tinfoil is a great alternative to an assortment of sweets and toys – and far more cost-effective.

Do plan some age-appropriate activities

You don’t have to hire a clown or magician to ensure your child’s party is a success. You can, however, choose a few age-appropriate games that won’t cost a cent:

  • One and three years: Play should be unstructured. Most children will love splashing around a sprinkler, playing in a giant ball pond, and staying close to mom.
  • Four years: Treasure hunts, ‘pin (or prestik) the tail on the donkey’ and ‘pass the parcel’ are enjoyed by most.
  • Five years: If it’s hot out, water games can be a real hit (just make sure they are supervised at all times). Cooperative games like ‘Simon says, ‘musical chairs’ and team games such as egg-and-spoon racing, obstacle courses, and three-legged races are also appropriate. They’ll also love having their faces painted and participating in arts and crafts (girls especially).



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