When it comes to planning a kid’s birthday party, we can sometimes be guilty of a bit of revisionism. We look at what they want and think: “When I was their age, I’d have been happy with a cake, some soda, and a few friends.” A notion that can readily be corrected by asking our own parents, who will point out that it had to be a certain kind of cake and about fifty friends.
And when it comes down to it, we’d never begrudge them a bit of it. So birthday parties are a fact of life. One per year per kid, in fact, unless you have twins – in which case, this is where you can make a saving. How you choose to do the party is up to you – you can go big or keep it small. But there are some aspects that need to be taken into account.
Venue: In The Home Or Somewhere Else?
The best birthday party location depends in no small part on the child. We’re all familiar with kids who like to see themselves as young adults (even at the age of ten), and want to book a cool, more grown-up venue.
Perhaps the main consideration, though, is the number of people coming. If there’s a guest list of more than fifty, then moving it outside the home may be the only option. Then any damage done to the venue is, ultimately, someone else’s problem.
Entertainment: How Much Can You DIY?
For younger kids, the entertainment that goes over well at a party has changed very little in about half a century. Clowns are still popular (although there will be at least one child per party who is scared of Bonzo). Magicians still delight and astound all but the most precocious of kids.
As your kids get older, it’s advisable to give them some input in picking entertainment. Booking a well-run traveling zoo might seem like a winner (and it should be, they are awesome) – but let your kid decide what they want, and then make it happen.
Another consideration here is whether you hire a clown or similar, or get someone you know to do it as a favor. If you go down this path, one word of warning: clowning may look simple, but there really is more to it than falling over and spraying yourself with a hose. If you go this way, make sure the person in the role gets some practice in.
Food And Drink: A Delicate Balance
The balance involved in getting the right amounts, and right kind, of food for a child’s birthday party, is a tricky one. Ideally, you want there to be more than enough to go around, because running out of food will lead to unrest. On the other hand, you don’t want too much – especially with younger children, for whom the term “eyes bigger than belly” was invented.
As a rule, though, choose between eight and ten items of food, not including the cake. For the more “popular” types (hot dogs, pizza slices), allow two or three portions per child. For anything more esoteric, one per child should do. For sodas, two cans or half a two-liter bottle per child is a sound estimate.