As a mother of 6 children, aged 7-19 years, I have thrown quite a number of birthday parties over the years! I am not the most creative or organised person and I like to keep things simple so I don’t spend a lot of time preparing for parties in advance but I can throw a party together pretty quickly!
Here are my 10 tips for throwing a very simple kids party:
- Host at Home
We nearly always have parties at home because they are cheaper and are more personal. Invest in some reusable plates, cups and platters suitable for parties. These can be used time and time again. I have a range of plastic plates and cups for younger kids and for older ones I use mini glass milk bottles, a drinks dispenser and our regular plates (or paper plates). These have had years of use!
Drinks dispenser and mini milk bottles with paper straws – a great investment
Drinks dispenser, mini milk bottles with paper straws and tiered stands (with our regular dinner plates) get used at many of our parties
- Colour Theme
There is no need to decorate your whole house with a particular theme but by decorating the table with a colour or theme you will set the theme of the party. This can be done cheaply by buying paper plates, cups, napkins and straws at the $2 shop. Additional items like a table cloth, balloons, bunting and streamers further enhance the look. A photo frame with a photo of the birthday child or a cute poem or verse is another simple way of decorating the table.
Blue themed party for teen girl (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) using our regular side plates, a light up star decoration which has been used for all sorts of table displays and tiered stands using our regular dinner plates. Table cloth is plastic from the $2 shop.
Girls’ birthday party – pink and white plates and straws in mini milk bottles with thank you gift (or party favor) on each plate (packaged in $2 shop pillow boxes)
- Cake Centre Piece
I don’t do fancy cakes. I stick with my favourite chocolate cake recipe and decorate simply, many times using lollies as decorations. Often people bring out the cake just before serving it but I like to put it at the centre of the table as part of the decoration.
Black, red and white Minnie Mouse themed party with the cake as the centre piece
- Party Food
I serve juice and water to drink and a range of sweet and savoury food to eat. I generally stick with popcorn, chips, vegetables with dip, sausage rolls, mini pies, fruit, jelly, cupcakes or cake, marshmallows, crackers etc. These items need little to no preparation, with only the cake, cupcakes and jelly requiring some forward planning and the sausage rolls and pies needing to be warmed in the oven. I like to platter up the food and let the children choose what they’d like.
Healthy party food – veggies and dips, marshmallow and fruit skewers
Simply decorated cake, reusable plastic plates and cups and easy party food on the table – popcorn, mandarins, applies, golden kiwifruit, grapes, potato balls and sausage rolls
Easy party food for younger children – popcorn, wafter cookies, crackers, marshmallows, fruit (I also served cheerio sausages hot at this party)
It is a good idea to have a brief plan for the party and some games planned for younger childrens parties. I stick with Pass the Parcel and Treasure Hunt type games (which may be as simple as hiding 20 chocolate coins in the lounge and getting the kids to find and count them all in a pile in the middle of the room).
A pinata can also be a fun (time consuming game).
Pirate Treasure Chest Pinata (The Warehouse) with prizes (Tissue packs, mini chocolates, lollipops). It took about 15 minutes to break open this pinata so the children got to have multiple turns hitting it and had great fun
Depending on the games we play and the take home party bag I have planned, prizes are kept simple like a mini chocolate bar, a lollipop, stickers, pencil and eraser. Sometimes I will purchase quality items which become both prize and take home gift, for example small boxes of lego can be prizes in the pass the parcel, can be played with as a game (who can create the piece the fastest using only one hand) and then become the take home gift. Although a more expensive item at $7 per box (on sale down from $10) there are no additional costs for little bits and pieces to fill up a party bag.
Prizes at a pirate party – pirate hooks and ‘treasure’ candy bracelets
Treasure hunt prizes for pirate party containing chocolate coins and stickers
Prizes for a girls’ party – rings, sticker earrings, candy bracelets and mini mentos, ready to wrap in the Pass-the-parcel
- Crafts or activities
Including a craft or other activity can help keep the guests occupied. Crafts need not be intricate. For younger children a pot of sidewalk chalk to decorate the driveway can capture their attention for quite some time. For older ones crafts like decorating cards, colouring in sheets, decorating cookies or cupcakes and even decorating their party bags with stickers keep them happily occupied.
Other activities may include walking to the park, going to a swimming pool, going to a scooter park, playing basketball, playing table tennis, watching a movie, playing playstation and making your own pizzas.
Decorating cookies with icing and lollies – I made the cookies the day before
- Opening the presents
Having the birthday child open their presents with their guests watching is something I include in the programme for the party as it takes up a bit of time, plus it is always one of my favourite parts of parties. I love to watch children opening their presents (and teach mine to always read each card and say thank you).
Reading a card before opening the present
- Leave some free time at the end of the party
Although planning a programme for the party is a good idea so you know how much time you have and what you’re doing next, it is often a good idea to leave a period of free time at the end of the party. Kids love to play and enjoy playing together at parties so let them have some time to run around, jump on the trampoline, play with balloons or toys (if you don’t want kids playing with the presents it’s best to pack these into a bag and pop out of reach).
Enjoying running around and playing games outside
- Simple party bags
I like to keep party bags very simple but would rather spend slightly more on a quality item, than send kids home with a bag of junk.
Sometimes if we’ve had several games with prizes at the party, we hand out items as simple as a bag of chippies and piece of cake. If kids have decorated cupcakes or cookies these are set aside for them to take home.
Other times we have very simple prizes, or if we’ve done an activity such as swimming and no games/prizes, I like to make up party bags like the ones below with items such a a notebook and pen (50% off at Kikki K), party blower ($2 Shop), hair tie ($2 Shop), mini chocolate bar and lollipop. Bags are also from the $2 Shop.