Plan a Bouncy Party - Part Two
Planning a Children’s Party – Part Two
Short parties are more than fine for many occasions. My son's end-of-T-ball-season party was just over an hour, including a quick and fun lunch. Of course, the party was right after a game(hour and a half), so the kids already had their activity (the T-ball game) and socializing time (while waiting for their turns in the bullpen). All that really needed to be added was refreshments (pizza delivered to the park and salad, drinks, and cupcakes brought by the parents) and the presentation of trophies and goodie bags.
Many school parties tend to be very short, sometimes only 30 minutes!
Of course, if you are hosting a birthday party or some other occasion, you’ll want to have it for a little longer than an hour. For children 3 or under, shorter parties are great, but for older ones, we’ll need good 3 hours or so to have some great fun.
We’ll need to allow about 20 minutes or so for the late comers, then about a half an hour for some craft, games or activity for 30 minutes, then refreshments for 20 – 30 minutes, opening of the presents will take about 15 – 20 minutes, and free time and socializing for 25 – 30 minutes. This very basic party just took over 2 hours. This party will not be done in less than 3 hours, unless you run the party like military drill.
2.5 to 3 hours is the most recommendable time for a children’s party. Going too long can be a drag and this could be worse than being too short, sometimes.
Who & How Many?
CHOOSE: Sit down with your child and start with the “Must Invites”. The “BEST” friends. Then move on to kids your child want, then to kids your child plays with sometimes.
EXTRA: Most of the time, inviting a few more guests than you like to attend is a good idea, because often, a couple of the invitees will have conflicts and will not be able to attend. If you are planning a party for between 5 to 7 children, you might want to invite 1 or 2 more children to prevent the party from becoming too small. If you’re having a party for larger than 15 or 20, you wouldn’t need to worry as much.
TOO BIG?: “More the merrier!” happens to be my motto for most parties, but when it comes to inviting an entire class, I’ve learned to be a bit more careful. As most schools do, my son’s school does not allow invitations to be passed out at school, unless the whole class is getting invited. (18 kids total in my son’s class)
My son's birthday is in late August and his classroom friendships just had started with no real close friends yet. I also expected a few kids to not show up. Well, I ended up with 23 kids(a few more kids from the neighborhood). Luckily, the party was outdoors and we had a large bounce house that kept a group happy, while another group was doing crafts, and another group waiting for their turn on the bounce house while having some refreshments.
TEACHERS: It would have never occurred to me to invite my son's teachers to his parties, until I saw them at other children's parties. Not only am I'm surprised how many children want to invite their teachers, I'm even more surprised how many teachers actually come (I'd think the last thing they'd want to do is spend their day off with kids!). My son's teachers usually make an appearance at his party (stay for about an hour) and both my son and the other kids think it's totally cool to see the teacher outside school. I'm suspecting this may be something my son will outgrow soon, but as long as he wants to invite his teacher, we will.
· 15-20 minutes - greet arrivals, free play and unstructured activities (art table, dart game, etc.)
· 30-45 minutes - organized games and activities
· 15-20 minutes - refreshments
· 20-30 minutes - additional organized games and activities (include time here for present opening if it's a party where the child receives gifts)
· 15-20 minutes - free play and unstructured activities
A three hour party agenda would allow more time for games & activities, free play, or an entertainer.
GIFTS: Some people are afraid of having any unplanned time during the party, fearing that the guests will get bored and start to misbehave. However, it is important to have some free time for children to interact with each other and learn crucial social skills in a free environment.
Some also are opposed to opening the presents during the party. Some people believe that it seems too materialistic or the child who brought a gift that doesn’t get too much enthusiasm may get his feelings hurt. On the other hand, most guests want to see their gift get opened while they’re there, and it also provides a good wrap up for the party as well.
It would be a good idea to teach your child to show appreciation and accept ALL gifts graciously, prior to the party.
ENJOY while it lasts. After a few years, your child’s parties wouldn’t include you anymore…