7 Survival Tips for Hosting a Party for Younger Kids
Hosting a birthday party for kids can be a joyful and memorable experience, but for many of us often it’s not! Celebrating with little kids comes with its own set of challenges. From managing their boundless energy to dealing with cheese Wotsits ground into the carpet, parties younger children can be the perfect storm for a stressful experience.
So here are some tips for hosting a successful low(ish)-stress party for the little ones:
1. Keep It Short and Sweet
Parties are exciting and no one is more excited than a preschooler with a party invite. By keeping the party short, ideally no more than 1 1⁄2 hours, there’s a better chance of ending the party on a high note.
Smaller kids tend to do better with parties earlier in the day so good time slots are 10am-11.30am if you don’t want to provide a full meal or 11am-1pm, especially if the children are young enough to still have a lunchtime nap.
2. Theme and decorations
While it is easy to get carried away scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram for party decor inspiration, keep it simple.
Be realistic about how much time you have to set up before the party, especially if you’re doing that with a small over-excited birthday child.
Themes can be great, but so too can be some brightly-coloured bunting. Young kids tend to be more interested in the activities and food than the decor.
3. Fun and Simple Games
If you're planning games and activities, opt for short, simple games and crafts. Children enjoy activities they can explore and do at their own pace. Avoid activities that require everyone's simultaneous participation or where children will need a lot of adult help.
The exception is perhaps the universally-loved game of "Pass-the-parcel." This is the only time you will see kids rush to sit down attentively in a perfect circle!
4. Hire Party Entertainment
To reduce the prep, outsource the entertainment for your party to a specialist. This could be a disco, sports activity provider or party entertainer like a magician. This is one of the best ways to manage the potential mayhem of a kid’s party.
To get the best out of hiring entertainment choose a provider experienced with your age group. For under 3s it might be better to hire soft play equipment and allow free play or to book a specialist toddler entertainment provider.
Make sure the venue meets the needs of the entertainment provider and plan for the entertainment to take place before the food comes out.
5. Party Food for Younger Children
Ask for any allergies or dietary restrictions on the invites so there are no surprises, and if you’re not sure how to cater for an allergy just ask. Many caregivers will be only too happy to help and may prefer to bring their own food for serious allergies.
Putting out the food at a specific time will discourage the grazers and help kids engage in the activities or entertainment. Some younger kids may struggle to sit down and eat with the others - if this happens, try to be flexible.
Opt for easy-to-eat, child-friendly snacks and finger foods. Mini sandwiches, fruit slices and small treats are great options.
And to ensure you have enough tableware, borrow a local party kit!
6. Recruit Helpers
Setting up and managing a kids' party is a big task, even for the most super-organised party host. Enlist the help of individuals who are comfortable with younger children or who can manage tasks like setting up the food without much guidance.
If you can, ask someone else to take photos so that you can enjoy key moments such as blowing out the candles on the cake.
7. Finally, Embrace the Chaos
No matter how brilliantly a party has been planned there will be chaos - try to embrace it. If everyone’s having a good time try not to worry if no one did the Fairy Lantern activity that you very diligently collected and cleaned 30 jam jars for.
Remember that younger kids often have pretty low expectations about what constitutes a successful party. They just want to have fun and, for many, cake will feature highly on the list of party must-haves. So if you only do one thing, make sure that is to remember the cake!