When it’s birthday time for the nippers, here’s how to take the heat out of the celebrations
It’s that time of year again; your little one is buzzing with excitement and following you around the house blurting out ideas for “the biggest, most amazingest party EVER!” Children’s birthday parties can be fun, but exhausting for you. Having planned a great number of parties over the years, I know a number of techniques to ensure that things run smoothly both in the run up to the party and on the day itself.
I would say that it is always a good idea to keep a children’s party fairly simple. There really isn’t any need to throw a fun time bonanza with all the trimmings such as clowns and bouncy castles etc. This would take an awful lot of planning and expense in Phnom Penh anyway, but remember that kids have a way of amazing us with how entertained they can keep each other with even the simplest of activities. (If you are ever in doubt, give your child a box and watch them for a few hours). Here are some ideas to make sure your little terror has a fantastic party without causing poor old mum and dad to climb the walls:
Planning the party
Before you buy anything, you’ll want to plan the party. What’s the theme? How many kids will there be? Do you need games? This isn’t always necessary for younger children, but as they get older it becomes much more important. You’ll also want to pick the place where the party will be. There’s nothing wrong with having it at home, but you could also have a party at the park, a kid-friendly restaurant such as Le Jardin on Street 360 in Phnom Penh, or another fun place.
I would thoroughly recommend Lucky Kids’ Club on Sihanouk Boulevard.
You are definitely going to need supplies. Plenty of them. This is a given, but make sure you have everything on your list a
few days before your party. Don’t forget the cake, party favours, ice cream, etc. Depending on where the party is held you may not need much, but make sure you have it all. Bloom Café on Phnom Penh’s Street 222 is a good choice for children’s cakes.
If the child is school age, there’s going to be a guest list. Be sure to send the invitations out at least a week ahead so other parents have enough time to buy gifts. I know I’ve had problems with rushing to get gifts in time because I didn’t get the invitation until the day before the party. Keep the other parent in mind, and offer an RSVP so you know how many extra children you’ll have on the big day. A useful tip that not only saves money but also gets the children involved in and excited about the process is getting them to make the invitations themselves. Even just a simple hand print on some coloured card, along with the party details, will suffice and also makes a nice keepsake for the party guests you invite.
Schedule and activities
This is going to depend on the age of the children invited. I would recommend keeping something of a schedule for the party and two to three hours is normally more than enough time for children aged up to five; you don’t want the little ones getting bored and restless. A very simple schedule would include about 30 minutes at the start to meet and greet, enjoy play time, etc. Then move on to party games, face painting and arts and crafts for an hour or so, before finishing up with party food and the big birthday cake reveal.
Older children can help in planning their party and making their own list of things they want to do with their guests. Ideas such as sleepovers or going swimming are ideal for the older kids. Younger children might need some help, and you may need to have some extra activities to keep them occupied, especially if you hold the party in your own home. Bubbles and other such activities can work for younger children.
Dos and don’ts
- Do try to keep party food relatively healthy, as 20 kids on a sugar rush is never much fun to deal with.
- Do give out party bags at the end. Children always enjoy taking something away from a party to remember it by.
- Do use the day as an opportunity to meet other parents and make new friends yourself.
- Don’t stress out if the kids are making lots of noise and mess. Remember, they are children; this is what they do and it is only for one day.
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help from other mums, dads or carers. Nobody expects you to do it all on your own.
Gemma Jones has been working in childcare for nine years. She holds an NNEB diploma in nursery nursing and a BA in Early Childhood Studies and has worked as a nursery manager, nanny and childcare college lecturer. She currently works as a kindergarten teacher. If you have any questions relating to childcare or development that you would like Gemma to answer, please email them to: [email protected]