How to Survive Hosting a Kids Party
Is the obvious answer here not ‘drink wine?’
Kidding—we know you’re the calm, composed, collected parents we all aspire to be
There comes a time as a parent when your kids are suddenly of the age to have parties. Which means inviting their friends. Which means multiple kids. At the same time. In your hands. Do with that what you will. The thing about hosting kids parties is that they can be prepped for - and you will be quite happy with yourself that you took the time to do so.
Whether it’s a kid’s birthday party, summer break pool party, after school halloween party, or end of school year party, we’re priming you for the best kids party prep ever. Bring on the face paint, funfetti, and spider crafts. Let’s jump into our top tips for hosting parties for kids.
1. Include specific details on the invite
Parents will be so glad to bring their kids away to your party for the afternoon. Whether it’s knowing that their kids get to make new memories, or because it means that they as a parent get a brief break for a moment in time—we’ll let you make your judgments on the parents here. Regardless of what camp the parents fall in, you as the host get to set the party parameters.
By simply including a specific start and end time to the party, you are in control of the time that you are hosting. Creating this very normal boundary is extremely helpful for your planning purposes - and keeping things in check as the countdown to party’s end ticks on. Be sure to also note whether parents are to drop their kids off at the party or stay - this eliminates the questions you would need to answer eventually.
Examples of how to do so:
- "Pick-up is at 3:00pm, go enjoy a free(ish) afternoon in the meantime!"
- "Parents, stick around and enjoy the party! Please let me know if you aren’t able to stay during the party so I can plan accordingly. See you all soon!"
2. Prep your home for littles
A party at home is, of course, wise and fun to consider - and will almost definitely save your wallet, compared to venturing out to other party venues. A home party requires a bit more planning ahead to ensure you have activities, crafts, and entertainment to keep the kids occupied. Ultimately, if you’re up for setting up some simple fun decor, setting out snacks, and providing a space to play (and organizing a game or two!) we highly recommend hosting at home. You can do it!
Here are a few of our top tips for hosting kids in your home (and your house not burning down - metaphorically or literally)
- Make space for the kids to play.
- If they’re running around outside, great. Be sure to think ahead about what keeps them contained and know if any pools or bodies of water are around.
- If indoors is the call, be sure to clear and designate a play area and set whatever boundaries are necessary regarding “go to” and “out of bounds” rooms.
- Indicate if shoes are to be taken off inside. Monkey see, monkey do.
- Snacks: have them available, and keep in mind what is prone to spilling. Juice boxes are great since straws keep the drinks at bay.
- Ask in advance for allergies - peanut butter cupcakes are pretty much a no.
- Move your breakable items out of any (accidental) bumping vicinity. Your grandma’s favorite vase - yep, that needs a hiding place.
- Make sure your bathroom has a stool in it. And make it obvious where the bathroom is.
- Be sure there are plenty of paper towels and wet wipes/things to clean nearby.
- Go disposable whenever possible. Check Our Favorite Things.
- Make trash visible for kids. Avoid questions (and losing your sanity).
- Label toy bins so kids can put toys back in specified bin - it really works!
All in all, we think hosting a kids party is easier at home because you are fully in charge - you don’t need to worry about cleaning up immediately or making a mess in front of other people. Our advice: expect a mess and let go during the party. You can clean later. Relax and watch the kids enjoy!
3. If not at home... pick a place that fits the age of the kids
Imagine a crew of sugared up 5-year-olds parading an indoor amusement park. Cue in squeals, tripping and falling, candy spilling all over, and confusion over tokens. Sound like the party you’re not wanting to facilitate? Don’t get us wrong - destination parties are great, but yet a major reminder of why it is important to pick a place age-appropriate for the kids. Do a little recon ahead of time so you know what sort of environment you’ll step into with kids in tow. This will also help you see how many helpers you may need to keep things rolling smoothly.
Questions to ask the party place:
- What activities are available?
- Do extra games cost extra? How many tokens to a dollar?
- Is there a private room for gathering?
- Do staff help out facilitating party?
- How many different areas can the kids scatter to? Ie -- are they running rampant through Chuck E. Cheese®, or confined to a laser tag room or mini golf course?
- Is food included? Can you bring your own food?
Ideas for places:
- Local park
- Bowling alley
- Skate rink
- Indoor trampoline parks
- Outdoor mini golf
- Chuck E. Cheese®
- Movie theater
- Amusement park: best if ages 10+
- Challenge obstacle courses
- Indoor amusement centers with bumper cars, batting cages, mini golf, playground, and laser tag
Ultimately - your kids are going to have a great time. Whether you opt for at-home or a destination venue, think about which location suits the party you’re up for hosting. And with that, capture those moments while your littles are little!
4. Make a plan ahead of time
Now that you’ve set the precise times for the party, you get to create a schedule. If you’re the type that grimaces at the thought of scheduling a party (and believe me, those of us do exist, even amongst the Partytrick planners) - fear not. The rule of making this schedule is truly to guide the time you’ll have kids over. It doesn’t mean you need to stick to it second by second, but here is a loose idea of what we advise factoring time in for your party:
- Cake cutting
- Playing games
- Dance party (obviously)
- Free time outside - yes we highly recommend this one
- Other activity (face painting, decorating craft)
5. Allow ample play time
This may seem obvious - but as adults, we sometimes can forget how much kids really do just love to run, scramble, skip, and dance around. Make sure you set time aside where you’re happy to just let the kids do their thing. If you have plans for them to sit at attention and watch presents and cake right at the party’s start, think again. They have to get their energy out. It’s simply a must. Allocating time for play at the beginning and end of the party will ensure they leave the party telling their parents that they had ‘the best time ever’!
6. Fuel the fun…and keep parents in mind for later
You know that time you picked your kid(s) up from their friend’s birthday, and they had the ‘best time ever’ -- and then an hour later they crashed? Kids are highly sensitive to blood sugar shifts. We’re all for ‘treat yoself’ moments, especially at parties, and we also recommend having a range of foods for them to pick from. Excite them with sugar, and keep things in check with a little bit of balanced nutrition. Keeping it simple is key - the kids likely won’t sit and graze like we do (in fact it’s almost 100% certain they will not) - so do not overdo yourself. Whether it’s a spread fit for a French chef or take-n-bake pizza, the kids won’t see a difference. Here are some of our favorite snacks for kids parties:
- Carrots and ranch
- Sliced apples and caramel or nut butter to dip in
- Crackers and cheese
- Otter pops or DIY popsicles
- Pigs in a blanket
- Cereal or trail mix separated in cups
- PB&J or ham & cheese sandwiches, cut small
- Fruit skewers - since everything is better on a stick
Final note on food: do not bend over backwards finding the gourmet cheese or perfectly frosting the cupcakes. We know pictures are important - so maybe pick one photogenic recipe. Your little guests will not be as interested in the food's display or number of ingredients, so we recommend upholding your sanity rather than portraying your inner Gordon Ramsey. A little spice up on how food looks does entice kids to eat though. Simple enhancements like fruit skewers, ants on a log (aka celery sticks with nut butter, lined with raisins) do go a long way.
Time to party!
There you have it. Your no-fail guide to surviving and (might we even say) thriving through hosting your kid’s party. Remind yourself of the fact that the kids are there to have fun—they don’t need an amazingly perfect display. Whether their cat whiskers are drawn perfectly or you accidentally swapped out the green crayon for black, they’ll be happy there was face paint. Now on you go, SuperMom.
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