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Running my first children's party - any chance of doing this low-effort and low-budget?

(11 Posts)
FrozenNorthPole Mon 12-Sep-11 09:35:27

Okay - DD1 is three this week, and her party is this weekend. Seven three-year-olds, two eighteen-month-olds and a one-year old are coming, with concommitant parents.

I've ordered the cake and booked the church hall. That's all I've done. I'm away at a conference for most of this week so need to ask your advice.

1. What's essential to a young children's party, and what will not get used / eaten / played with?
2. What kind of structured activities can / should I provide? We have access to a big cupboard of toys so was going to basically let them play freely for an hour, serve food / snacks (the party starts at 2pm so it's an afternoon tea rather than a lunch). Then ... musical bumps? Pass the parcel? Far too old fashioned?
3. Music ... I haven't the foggiest ...

Thank you for any advice / experiences you can share - it's beginning to look a bit daunting!

rushofbloodtothefeet Mon 12-Sep-11 09:46:33

Probably on the young side for most organised games, even pass the parcel needs a lot of parental involvement.

Musical bumps is a good one though. Or just generally dancing to music - could try to get them doing copying games - put hands on head, touch the floor - that kind of thing. A bit of Abba usually goes down well. Something upbeat and poppy.

Balloons can go down well, but some kids are terrified of them. Bubbles also good - but better outside, indoors they make the floor very slippery and end up with bumped heads.

Distribute toys around various parts of the hall - balls in a paddling pool, some ride-ons, toy cars on a mat etc Whatever you can get your hands on. You could try a couple of small craft activities to give them something to take home - stick some shapes on a mask, or decorate a pen pot.

Party food tends towards the healthier end these days - sandwiches, chopped up veg, some crisps, sausages and I find bowls of popcorn go down well. Fruit and some biscuits for afters and cake in the party bag. If you are doing party bags then keep them simple (especially for this age group), don't fill with plastic tat - do cake and a balloon, or go to Red House/The Book People and find a block deal on some small books and give one each.

Don't forget tea and nibbles for the adults!

Sleepglorioussleep Mon 12-Sep-11 09:50:10

Have done a few now! Would say at that age let them play freely but make sure there are some toys (train track and duplo worked well) and books to play with and maybe some drawing. Some children like running around and playing, some like to sit quietly. For dd's third birthday we had a theme and they could make a mask for that, do colouring on that theme and we played hunt the ....they all had a paper bag and had to fill it with the stars we had hidden (actually scattered liberally around the room-hiding unnecessary at that age). I have a fear of children who have nothing to do! Pass the parcel good at that age. Games where someone out okay as long as they have something to do. Or do musical statues and give stickers for really still statues each round so no one has a paddy about losing (that could be a special treat for four or five year old party!) have yet to find children who don't like games because old fashioned, although some just don't like games. Once they see stickers lots are convinced that they do really! Make sure you are prepared for different lengths of time for eating-some done in two seconds others take ages. Toys or an activity help with that. Have fun

KnitterInTheNW Mon 12-Sep-11 09:52:37

For my DS's 3rd birthday party in March I hired the local community centre hall, hired a bouncy castle and borrowed the ride on toys from the mums & tots group that meet there. I also put 5 items of food into a box for each of them to eat at 'tea' time, plus jelly plus birthday cake. It worked really well, all they want to do at that age is run around and have fun.

The adults got to sit back, chat and watch them play, it wasn't stressful for me, and hardly anything to clear up at the end. I'm planning on doing the same thing next year, with possibly a party game or 2.

FrozenNorthPole Mon 12-Sep-11 10:18:50

Thank you! <takes notes>

wigglesrock Mon 12-Sep-11 11:09:07

Mine have loved musical statues, even at that age, buy a bag of medals from Tesco/Asda for £1, but make sure you have a medal for each child blush

hels71 Mon 12-Sep-11 12:21:09

My DD loved pass the parcel at her third party. I bought enough small colouring books ofr each child and wrapped them up so they all got the same thing! Did need some help from grown uos though and a very on the ball CD operator to check no-one got missed!!!

willali Mon 12-Sep-11 13:08:26

second the food in a box thing - everyone gets the same, you can do it in advance and it makes clearing up very easy. I have done boxes containing a buttered roll (saves knowing what everyone likes in a roll) packet of mini cheddars, box of raisins, choc biscuit, carton of juice. take a box of wine and nibbles for parents

wearymum200 Mon 12-Sep-11 21:46:01

Get a large packet of cheap stickers, some plain white bags and the first activity is making your own party bag. Most 3y olds of my acquaintance love stickers!

Doitnicelyplease Tue 13-Sep-11 04:52:16

We just had my DDs 3rd b'day party at the weekend and she had a great time.
For games we did musical bumps (don't do the taking away of cushions, just get a few adults to join in to encourage the rushing round to find a cushion). Pin the tail on the donkey, they really enjoyed this, also musical statues.

We didn't offer prizes or eliminate anyone it was all just for fun. Have lots of balloons scattered around too. And some lively kids music.

Other than that the kids could do a bit of colouring or play with toys, ride on ones are good fun. In the middle they had a sit down birthday tea which they were all very good for.

Tidypidy Wed 14-Sep-11 22:02:26

we always have our parties at home so everything is on hand, don't have a massive house just prefer to be at home. We always do pass the parcel, sleeping lions, musical bumps/statues, pin the tail on the donkey and general dancing. Hot Potatoes CD by the Wiggles is a hit as are some ancient Now CDs from the early nineties. For food I do a platter of veg - cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes cut in half, carrot sticks, slices of pepper, cheese and ham sandwiches, little sausages (if only for the Dads!), jam tarts, jelly and ice cream, and of course a cake. I give everyone a slice of cake to take home and don't bother with bags.

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