It's Party Time!

When it comes to parties, planning makes perfect. We asked parents and party professionals for tips that are sure to make your celebration a success.

Planning Tips

  • Let your child help pick the theme. Involve her in the planning and preparation, too.
  • Invite a number of guests equal to your child's age, plus one or two. Try to keep the guests in the same age range, or at least provide alternate activities for any older or younger kids.
  • Write on the invitations whether parents are invited or if kids are to be dropped off. (Parents should be expected to stay with children under age 5.) If parents attend, provide a snack for them.
  • Keep the party 1 ? to 2 hours long, and indicate on the invitation at what time the party will be over.
  • Greet everyone in a special, attentive way. Make each guest feel wanted and important. Say goodbye in a similar way.
  • Kids love seeing their names in print. Writing their names on badges, place cards, or party favors makes them feel important.
  • Let kids know your ground rules early on. For example you might announce, "Just three rules, kids: no jumping on furniture, take turns, and have fun." Understanding the limitations from the beginning will save them from the humiliation of scoldings later.
  • Keep kids busy and challenged. Start with a creative activity to involve the kids as soon as they arrive. Look for icebreakers that make shy kids comfortable. Guests won't have time for self-consciousness or mischief.
  • Guide the activities. Establish a "safety zone" and explain that the game stops at its borders and anyone who wants to opt out of an activity can step into this area at any time. When establishing pairs, buddies or teams, try to match the size and energy levels of participants so that small kids won't be overwhelmed by bigger partners.
  • If the children will be making a craft project, create a sample for them to see. This will help you gauge whether the project is age-appropriate and if you'll need help.
  • Opening presents is best left out of a party for very young children. It's hard for young children to share brand-new toys, and it's hard for those who are not getting presents to sit and watch.
  • Let a child aged 6 or over open presents at the end of a party. Make sure you've rehearsed your child on gift acceptance speeches beforehand. If possible, ask another adult to record the gifts, so you can devote yourself to praising the gift, and the giver, coaxing the proper thank you's from your child if necessary, and greeting parents arriving to collect their children.

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