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Party Theme Ideas

Party Tips

Here you'll find some useful tips when hosting your next party!

Party Planning
Guests
Decorations
Running a Successful Birthday Party
Food and Drink
Present Opening
Party Bags
Cleaning Up

Party Planning

Including your birthday child in planning their own party is exciting for them and helps guide your decision making. Offer them decisions to make where possible ("would you like a Dinosaur party or Spiderman party?"), but you may want to refrain from giving them open decision making or you may end up with a whole grade 3 class being invited to Luna Park!

We recommend sending invitations out four weeks prior to your chosen party date. Keep a list of invited guests on your phone or in your diary so you can easily remember who is coming and who is yet to RSVP. To allow an RSVP of one week prior to the party is fairly common. If you haven't heard back from a particular child, a quick call to a parent, "just checking if Tommy is able to join us tomorrow" will make sure that the invitation got passed on and allows you to know final numbers.

Children's parties need not be too long. Something like 90 mins to two hours will ensure you have plenty of time for food and activities, without tiring the kids (or yourself!) out too much.

If the children are young you may like to give their parents the option to stay. If so, it is a good idea to have some refreshments to serve them throughout the party. Something simple like Easy Peasy Lemonade scones will always go down well with a cuppa!

No need to stress if your own house is not big enough to host the party, a local park is often a great alternative.

Guests

Deciding how many children to invite to a party can be difficult as a parent, especially in primary school or when you have a few different social circles.

A good rule of thumb is that the number of guests should be the age of your child plus one (i.e. 6 year old party = 7 guests). If your child desperately wants to invite their whole grade/ basketball team/ extended family, you might need to get creative. You could ask your child's teacher if you're able to bring in a batch of cupcakes for afternoon tea one day in the classroom or take a bag of milky ways to basketball so the kids can all have one after a game instead of inviting 35 children to your lounge room!

Remember that if you're having more children than your chosen theme caters for, you can purchase as many sets as you need.

Remember to include your birthday child and siblings when planning numbers.

It's a good idea to check that your child's best friend is available on the date you have chosen, as their party won't be the same without their bestie!

Decorations

Setting up the party is a great way to build anticipation and involve your whole family. Decorating and getting ready together will really add to the sense of occasion and excitement!

Each Party in the Box includes two packs of helium quality balloons, 30 balloons in total. This ensures you will have plenty for decorating and leftovers can be used for game props (check out our games section) or as an extra gift in the party bags. The tablecloth, serviettes and tableware all match your chosen theme and balloon colours.

Running a Successful Birthday Party

Aim to start the party with a game as soon as the guests have all arrived. Musical chairs or Pass the Parcel are often good 'ice-breakers' for younger children. If you have a craft or game activity planned for older children, you can start with this to get all the children involved together.

The more activities and games you have planned the easier a house full of children is to manage! You'll find plenty of simple ideas to keep them entertained on this site.

If the weather is going to be fine, try to run a number of games outside. This will limit the potential for mess inside and you'll find the volume of noise much more bearable!

Keep doors closed to bedrooms and other spaces you do not want young guests to go. It's also worth explaining to your own children in advance which rooms will be for the party and what rooms are 'out of bounds' while everyone is over.

If children have any special or breakable toys it's a good idea to put them in a closed bedroom while you entertain so nothing gets accidentally broken.

Food & Drink

Children tend to drink a lot at parties, especially if lots of games are being played. You may like to set the food aside for a specific time, but make the drinks freely available. Writing names on cups with a permanent marker is a great way to help reduce waste. Children are also more likely to drink if they are confident about which cup is theirs.

Food is one of the most essential elements to a good birthday party, but it need not be expensive or complicated. Kids often love the simplest things – think chocolate crackles, fairy bread, potato chips, and of course the birthday cake!

Three to five different food options (including the birthday cake) is often all you will need. In our experience, excited children often eat less than we think they will!

Catering for children with food allergies or intolerances can be stressful but there are plenty of easy alternatives these days. A good idea is to ask parents when they RSVP if their child has any food allergies you should know about. If you are not familiar with a particular allergy, ask the parent for some suggestions. We have also included allergy notes throughout our recipes.

Preparing some of the food in advance will save you from some of the stress on the day. Most of the recipes included here will keep well in the fridge for a day or two.

We would suggest serving food after the main games and/or activities, and until then have it set aside away from little fingers. Eating the party food together is also a great way to socialise and encourage positive interactions between guests.

If you don't have a table big enough to seat all the guests, then laying out a picnic blanket or even a large bed sheet on the floor is a great way to minimise mess. After eating, gather up the cloth, and any crumbs or spills should be safely contained inside and easily taken care of later!

Present Opening

There are varied opinions as to when the best time is to open gifts. If you do leave the gift opening until the party is finished, it is a nice idea to take a photo of your child holding each gift as they have unwrapped it. You can then email a note to each guest individually with the photo attached for a simple but personal thank you.

If you don't have too many guests coming, opening the gifts together at the start can be a fun way of including each child as they arrive. It may help to write down what each guest gives you as the gift is opened because we all know that keeping cards and gifts together isn't on a child's mind!

It may help to speak to your child in advance about how to handle duplicate gifts. "Wow – you must have known I really liked this" or "Now I can share with my sister" is much nicer than "I already have one of these, can you get me something else". You may still choose to exchange a duplicate gift for something else, but it shows gratitude which we all want our children to display.

Party Bags

Preparing the party bags together with the birthday child can be a great way of helping build anticipation for their party. If they are old enough, they might like to write their friend's name on each bag so no child is forgotten.

Party bags can be kept somewhere safe until the end of the party (so little fingers don't go wandering), but don't forget to give them out.

In your Party in the Box we have included quality party bags and several special novelty items for you to fill each party bag with. You can always add other small treats to the party bag such as lollies or a piece of birthday cake if you so desire.

Please note our novelty items are suitable for children 3 years and older only due to small parts being present.

We include enough party bags for each child, including the birthday child. However, if you have a guest unexpectedly turn up, you may like to use the extra party bag for them as most birthday children wouldn't expect a party favour bag as well as receiving presents.

Encourage the birthday child to give a bag to each guest as they leave, making sure they thank them for coming to their party.

Cleaning Up

Let's just admit it from the start - kids love making a mess! There's a difference between fun mess and naughty mess though and a party is full of fun mess: wrapping paper, ribbon, pass the parcel layers, empty plates, and cake covered faces! Embrace it and you'll enjoy your party without feeling like the resident health inspector.

A couple of simple ways to keep things under control:

- A $2 pack of facial wipes or baby wipes can go a long way when 8 hungry boys have finished with fairy bread and jelly. Just get them to do a quick hand and face wipe before leaving the table.

- Consider having the children eat outside so you don't worry about icing being stomped into your carpet.

- Providing a big box for all presents can be a good way of keeping parts together after a gift is opened. Then you don't worry about losing an important piece in the wrapping paper clean up.

We would encourage you to think of ways to include the children in cleaning up and make it fun – after all it's all part of creating great memories of time together! For example you might have a 'rubbish bag stuffing' competition. Or you could choose a favourite piece of music and challenge the children to tidy a room with you before the song ends. Taking photos during the clean-up also helps the kids to see this as part of the event and celebration.

Party in the Box is a real lifesaver and just a great way to make that kids' party work for everyone - Mum too! I've used this for my kids and their friends - my boys loved the games and had a lot of fun, and I loved how straightforward and stress free it was. Recommend you give it a go!

Kelly S, Hidden Valley