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July 6, 2016

Rebecca Williamson finds some simple ways to throw a great birthday party without forsaking fun. 

Every parent wants to throw their child a fun, memorable birthday bash, but party planning shouldn’t cause any household headaches or unnecessary stress. Some mums thrive on organising the perfect, no-expense-spared extravaganza, whereas others balk at the idea of meticulous planning. The majority of us fall somewhere in-between, so forget trying to impress, ditch the one-upmanship and simply focus on the fun. Here’s how to organise a fantastic birthday party while remaining cool, calm and collected.

Prior planning

Location If you’d rather not host the party at your home, then consider places such as your local park, beach or playground – the free entertainment is a bonus!

Date Consider throwing the party on a date other than your child’s actual birthday if you’d like to spend more time with them on their special day. Kids’ parties can be
hectic and everyone will want to celebrate with the birthday boy or girl.

Invites Beautiful custom-made invites aren’t necessary, in this day and age a simple email can suffice! If you prefer printed invitations, however, check out Pinterest for templates or find pre-printed invites in bookstores. Who you invite is entirely up to you and the birthday kid, but bear in mind that a bigger guest list certainly doesn’t mean a better party. If the invited children are of pre-school age then, of course, parents are usually expected to stay for the entire party and you’ll also need to consider catering for any siblings.

Food Kids aren’t fond of fancy canapés but put a plate of fairy bread, cheerios or fruit kebabs on the table and they’ll disappear quick smart. Other options are banana sushi (banana rolled up in bread and sliced), vegetable sticks, bliss balls and mini savoury muffins. (See page 118 for ideas.) As for feeding the adults, they love classic Kiwi party nibbles just as much as the kids, so there’s no need to cater to them separately.
To save time on the day, prepare any food you can in advance, freeze it and pull it out the night before the party.

Buy or DIY? Be honest about where your skills lie and choose what to DIY and what to buy.
You may be a brilliant craftsperson but a terrible baker, so make your own decorations and buy the cake. Don’t attempt to hand-make everything!

Budget Food, entertainment, presents, goodie bags… parties can be pricey, so it’s a wise idea to set a budget and stick to it.

Entertainment Magicians, clowns, bouncy castles and pony rides are fantastic, but little ones also love simply getting together for a run around. Set up the paddling pool or sprinkler in summer, break out classics like pass the parcel in winter and have a couple of activities up your sleeve.
Remember that children don’t need to be directed the whole time to enjoy themselves.

Party time

Enjoy the day Don’t stress about playing the perfect host – everyone will understand if you’re busy taking photos rather than circulating with nibbles. It’s a good idea to have the food, plates and serviettes on a table before everyone arrives, as well as tea, coffee and water so they can help themselves.

Forget the schedule With children involved, sometimes things don’t go quite according to plan, so remember to be flexible!

Enlist help This is super-important if parents aren’t sticking around for the party. You can’t be cutting up the cake, co-ordinating a treasure hunt and paying attention to 10 children all at the same time.

Goodie bags Whether you choose to gift a goodie bag or not is up to you. If you’d rather not spend time or money on bits and pieces that may or may not get used, consider sending each child home with a balloon or slice of birthday cake enclosed in a cute box. Alternatively, plain wine or arrowroot biscuits decorated with coloured icing make great party favours.

Remember that the day is about your child, not you or the attendees and there’s no right or wrong when it comes to kids’ parties. As long as your little one is happy, you can consider it a successful event! ′

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