15 April, 2010

Crowd control - The beginners guide to having a birthday party

This is our guest post created especially for Tup Tup Toys last week!

Many thanks to the lovely Angie from My Funky Party for this wonderful guest post on hosting a child's birthday party. Don't let the title deceive you - it's not just for beginners, there are some fantastic tips the rest of us can use too!

When faced with a bunch of giggly, squeaky, hyped up kids at a birthday party, the idea of getting them to do what you want (in order to play any games or fun stuff) can make you so worried you go running for the hills. But with careful planning and a few knowledgeable tricks (the kind teachers use in the classroom), the daunting task of entertaining children for and hour and a half can be turned into a breeze.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jessica.diamond

First - Know Your Enemy

There's no point going all out with a "Giggles" theme party for a bunch of 9 year olds, or "Princess and Pirates" for 20 boys who are into Ben 10. The aim of a successful party theme is to choose something that is universal to all the children attending, not just the guest of honour.

Second - "Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail"

You may realize this but kids actually like routine and scheduling, even at a party. Take a piece of paper and list time slots of 10 mins, like this:


Allocate three main time slots for arrival, food time (which includes singing Happy Birthday) and opening presents. Food takes approx. 30 minutes for savories, cakes and biscuits. Put it about half way through.

Arrival - there's always one that's late. Actually, scrap that, lots of people are late and it usually takes about 10-15 minutes for all the guests to arrive. Try to plan an arrival activity. This could be colouring for youngsters with printables of their favourite characters. Older children can get crafty and make something to take home (this could be something that's popped into their party bag at the end).

Opening Presents - always a good way to while away the last 20 minutes of a party. You can schedule this to happen during the party, or have it on standby just incase your guests clear through your games faster than you thought possible.

Photo courtsey of Flickr user Mark & Marie Finnern

So, now your schedule should look something like this:

2.00pm Arrival activity (15 mins)
2.10-2.15 Arrival activity
2.50pm Lunch (30 mins)
3.00pm Lunch
3.10pm Lunch
3.40pm Present Opening
3.50pm Present Opening
4.00pm End
This leaves you with two blocks of 30-35 minutes.


Depending on the number of children coming, allocate approximately 1 game per child. There are lots of ideas online and you can ask your family about more retro games you can play. Some ideas to get you started....

Pass the Parcel - put a small sweet in between each layer, or for a smaller party with less than 10 children, put in a piece of paper with an action suggestion, such as 'pretend to be a dog', 'hop on one leg', 'sing a nursery rhyme' etc. For larger groups, this game can go on forever and you won't be able to hold their interest, so try splitting the kids into 2 groups and have 1 parcel per group travelling around each circle at the same time.
The Chocolate Game - You will need, a large bag of chocolate buttons, a plate, a fork, a scarf, a pair of wooly gloves and a dice. Sit the kids around in a circle. Put the buttons on a plate, with the scarf, gloves and fork in the centre. Pass the dice around the circle. Each child takes turns to roll the dice, then they pass it to the next child. If they roll a 6, the dice keeps going around the circle, as before, except the child who rolled a 6 has until the next child rolls a 6, to put on the scarf and gloves, then eat as much of the chocolate as possible. Lots of fun!


For boy's parties, any relay races and sports day style competitive games will go down a storm. Passing an inflated balloon around a circle without using your hands is always a good way to while away the time.

Photo courtesy of Flikr user goldberg.

 So the last thing - What if they don't listen to you explaining what's going on? What if they just run around crazy? There are a few steps you can take to ensure your party runs smoothly.

Firstly, delegate all non entertaining stuff to other people, including supervising toilet trips and serving the food. Entertaining the kids isn't just about playing games. It's about making sure that despite running around like a nutcase entertaining the kids, you are also clock watching, and making certain that the momentum is kept running throughout.
Secondly, don't give the kids options. Tell them at the beginning of the party what the schedule is (make it fun, of course!) and stick to it. If a game is going down like a lead balloon, just skip to the next one. Don't make a big fuss, just move on and the kids will think it's just time for the next game.

Thirdly, have a few teacher's tricks up your sleeve. Here's my personal favourite! All children from reception to teens are familiar with the "put your hand up if you can hear me" routine. If you are trying to tell the kids the instructions of a game and some are a bit giddy, as can only be expected at a party, put your hand up and very loudly say "put you hand up if you can hear me". The children will all put their hands up, one after another, and magically should all become silent and await your instructions. It's magic and works again and again.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user micn2sugars

Lastly, be confident. have your plan, have other party tasks delegated to others and enjoy being the most popular kid at the party!
Hope you find something to help you at your next birthday party. Do let us know if you use any of our ideas and tips!
Good luck!
Yours colourfully, Angela x
Tup Tup Toys is a lovely online toy shop which has lots of unique toys for children with great customer service.
We love their range of baby toys and gift ideas. The lovely people at Tup Tup Toys can even wrap up your special birthday gift too! How useful is that?!
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