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to ask about kids parties?

(13 Posts)
notfornothing Wed 15-Jun-16 10:56:20

Please explain to me whatbis expexted on kids birthday parties nowadays?
It would be for 4 year old boy.

Location - is your own home a complete no-no? Is it always some sort of play centre?
What type of food?
Activities, organised games?
I assume for 4 year old parents are coming too? Food/drinks for parents?
What else?

I am clueless of what's the done thing and wouldn't want to end up on the other thread about worst parties.
Please describe what you have done that was a success or a good party that you have been to.

KateLivesInEngland Wed 15-Jun-16 11:09:40

4yr olds in our area usually go to the soft play area. Two hours soft play then horrid deep fried beige food buffet!
Or at home? Party games like pass the parcel, musical chairs/statues. Depending on weather - bouncy castle in garden? Birthday cake and food of your own choosing? Around 2hrs in length?
Or hiring an entertainer like a magician and hiring local village hall?
All depends on what your area offers and your budget.
4yr olds are an easily pleased age group in my experience. Gets harder as they get older!

Ameliablue Wed 15-Jun-16 11:20:42

Nothing wrong with parties at home but more parents are likely to leave, than if it was a public venue.
Not necessary to feed parents but if at home, is offer, a drink and biscuit and buffet after kids eaten.

HolesInTheFloor Wed 15-Jun-16 11:29:36

I'm currently organising ds's 4th bday party. I have aspergers and have been worrying about it for months. We're doing a couple of hours at a local farm - buffet for kids on arrival, tea and coffees for parents (no food as seem to just Hoover up left over party food). No organised games just a bouncy castle, playground and some animals to feed. Hopefully this should suffice.

SpiritedLondon Wed 15-Jun-16 11:30:55

Ok well I did a party for a 4 year old recently and it was in a home setting. There were about 10 kids ( friends and cousins) of varying ages with all the various parents. We had a bouncy castle in the garden which kept them all amused for hours. There were a couple of traditional games and some " disco dancing"grin. I did a combination of party food from Waitrose and supplemented with other bits and pieces and a home made cake. Adults had chilli / alcohol!!! The other party I've attended recently was in a play barn. The facilities at this place are wonderful but the place was rammed. The party room was very small and cold with nowhere for the parents to sit ( all parents in attendance it seemed). The food was varied but very strictly controlled ( 1 breadstick each etc). The whole thing was over in 2 hours and everyone left which I find completely odd but I suspect that when my dd starts school in Sept I will be glad of that. Although I prefer the former type of party I suspect that the pressure to invite the entire class will push me into parties at venues since I could not accommodate 30 kids in my house. ( nor would I want to)

Slingcrump Wed 15-Jun-16 12:01:08

Just do what you suits you best. I've always had parties at home because I enjoy it (but make sure you an offer alternative activities if it rains) or hire a hall or choose an activity elsewhere.

For parties at home/village hall, there are two schools of thought. (1) throw children in to decorated space and let them get on with it, or, (2) control activities throughout and stick to rough schedule (being a control freak I favour the latter!)

Whichever location/format you choose it helps if you:

- Organise as much as possible (down to tiniest detail) in advance. There is never a moment spare on the actual day/during party.

- Have as many helpers on hand as humanly possible (particularly at arrival and departure times) and, for that age group, have someone watching main exit for escapees. For four year olds, handy to have spare helpers to comfort the child who is shy and doesn't want to join in/take child to loo and bring back/stop "exuberant" child squishing birthday cake before candles have been blown out, so that you can stay in room at all times and direct proceedings. Also good to have someone on hand to take photos throughout so you don't have to!

-Make a quick note of who brought what present so you can thank the parents later on.

- I live abroad where parents drop off their 4 yr olds and leave (in the main) so I take down emergency contact numbers/details of any allergies. Sometimes helps - for whole class parties - if dc have name stickers too. If parents do stay - don't get drawn in to making cups of tea and coffee for parents - its too time consuming. I directed them to a pre-prepared table (innacessible to children) which had ice tea (Delia Smith recipe) + bottles of water and snacks on it and told them to help themselves.

- For catering we had either indoor or outdoor picnics using these sort of food boxes. In one fell swoop they eliminate the need for plates, serving dishes, having to set everything out on big table, having to clear it all up again, endlessly handing stuff around, leaving you free to help the children eat (some do need assistance putting straw in juice box, opening yoghurt lid etc etc). Bit of hassle when you initially fill them, but plain sailing from there on. And you can bung them all in bags to clear up quickly at the party and free space quickly and then sort out rubbish/recycling properly afterwards.

Here, (in the summer) we set out picnic rugs on the lawn and just hand each child their individual box. The children absolutely love them! But if it rains the rugs can go inside too. I tend to serve drinks separately (juice boxes or bottles of water) on ice in big plastic tubs handed around. (Prevents open cups being spilled everywhere.)

Fill food boxes with selection from following:
mini yoghurt, mini grizzini sticks, mini packets Pringles, tiny ‘cones’ of salted popcorn, carrot sticks, pizza cut up in to small squares
cheese cubes or mini Baby-belles (horrid I know but children seem to eat them, fruit salad (prepared on morning) in plastic tubs
tiny soft ‘milk’ rolls containing either ham or Philadelphia
fruit pockets, tiny biscuit. (Cut and eat cake separately later on.)

+ one small plastic fork and spoon and one napkin

DO NOT RECOMMEND: grapes or sausage (choking hazard – perfect size for small excitable wind-pipes!) and anything containing chocolate (melts everywhere and causes huge mess).

Don’t be tempted to include juice carton in food box. Too heavy.

As for activities, we've had the usual, pass the parcel, Simon says, treasure hunts, bubble wrap bounce, deck quoits, egg and spoon race, pin the tail on the donkey, memory game on a tray, photo cardboard cut-outs. I've usually made/prepared all of these quite cheaply myself in advance. You don't really need a theme for 4 year olds but it can help when prepping games.

It's good to reserve two collective activities such as colouring a large mural, or blowing bubbles or play doh on a plastic sheet or some such that dc an just join in with as they come, for beginning and end of party when you are waiting for parents to leave or to arrive.

Have a rough schedule of proceedings on wall in large letters for you and helpers to refer to ie 2pm greet everyone, 2.30pm egg and spoon race, 3.00pm, pass the parcel, 3.30pm picnic, 4pm cake and singing happy birthday, 4.20pm punch and judy show, 5pm home time!

Have a couple of spare games prepped in case schedule goes faster than planned or one game doesn't go well.

Good to have on hand: scissors, sellotape, blue tack, plasters, rubbish bags, Dettol and sick bucket (just in case! - hopefully not needed) notebook and pen, spare batteries for camera and test music for games in advance etc.

Personally, I don't do balloons (for every 3 you blow up successfully, 5 burst imho) but find helium balloons (controversial I know) make good going away presents and easy decorations too. Btw, have extra loot bags or little presents available for any siblings that come to fetch child at end!

Last tip > have bottle of gin ready on ice for when it is all over!!

HTH and that your son has a good time!

NarkyKnockers Wed 15-Jun-16 14:38:50

We've been to lots of different ones from bouncy castles in the garden to church halls to playcentre, pizza hut make your own pizza, trampolining, sports, farm etc. I prefer to do mine somewhere that does the catering and cleans up after but it's cheaper to do it yourself so whatever you prefer. At age 4 there may well be 1 or 2 parents that will drop and run but most will stay esp in somewhere like a playcentre

maninawomansworld01 Wed 15-Jun-16 23:07:38

We have twin DS's and last year was first time they've been old enough to have a party and sort of understand what it was.
We had it at home, but we are lucky in that we have a farm so we had it in one of our old barns, had a bouncy castle in the orchard next to in. The kids ran around and had a great time, brought out a couple of orphaned lambs for them to stroke and have a go at bottle feeding which went down really well.
We did a big BBQ and had some nice homemade cider so quite a few parents hung around which made our lives a hell of a lot easier.

No kids went in my nice clean, tidy house though! (Yes we're weird, we have a clean and tidy farmhouse).

SamWheat Thu 16-Jun-16 00:19:55

Got two children, and so been to loads of 4 year old parties. In all the ones I've been to for that age, the norm is definitely for them being held at soft play centres and the parents staying.
If at home though:
Food that always goes down well is sandwiches (ham, cheese, egg), sausage rolls, crisps, fairy cakes, chocolate fingers, and you need the obligatory fruit/veg platter to placate the parents who cry at the thought of all the E numbers. grin
(Chopped grapes, cucumber, carrot and red pepper batons)
Great games to be played are pin the tail on the donkey type ones (you can buy stick on pin the tail on the donkey games from places like Wilkos for £1.)
Pinatas filled full of sweets. The string pull ones are best at this age as the stick ones take some serious smacking and they're only 4.
Pass The Parcel. Although be warned they might try to hog the parcel when it gets to them and pass it along at the pace of a snail. grin

HighDataUsage Thu 16-Jun-16 03:39:21

Best tip given to me ever was to buy an additional birthday cake, slice it up and put in the party bags before the party. This will save you time and stress at the end of the party when you're madly trying to cut up & hand out 30 slices of cake.

AhAgain Thu 16-Jun-16 09:51:18

Anything goes and usually does. Choose what makes your child happy and what you are happy to do and/or pay for.

Home is fine and can be lovely (although we haven't since DS was 3 - he has had 20-something kids coming since his 4th and I don't fancy doing that in my house...).

Food: stick to things that kids actually like and don't be too clever. Sandwiches (although I often make too many - kids often prefer the other party food), crisps, cocktail sausages are popular, cupcakes, biscuits, maybe some grapes and little tomatoes. Regular party food.

I do drinks and maybe cakes/biscuits for parents. At DS's school (DS now 6) most parents stay, but that is because we are a social group and like each other.

Either games and/or some sort of entertainment.

Don't forget "party bags": a slice of cake (or cupcake), chocolate/sweets and normally either some cheap rubbish or buy a multipack of books and split them.

Good luck smile

AhAgain Thu 16-Jun-16 09:55:06

Agree with buying a separate cake to pre-cut. Past couple of years we have bought "tray party cakes" (you can get them from all major supermarkets) - cut, wrapped and slipped into party bags the morning of the party.

FireTruckOhFireTruck Thu 16-Jun-16 15:39:16

Usually soft play around here, food and drinks all included and no mess to clear up at he end of the day!

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