How to Host a Children’s Birthday Party

Hosting a children’s birthday party has plenty of questions attached to it. How many to invite, what food to prepare, and the constantly debated goodie bags. In this post, we’ll be looking at how to host children’s birthday party.

That means birthday party etiquette, how many kids to invite, what ‘no gifts’ really means, the goodie bag debate and what to do after the party has ended.

Here we go!


The most important thing to remember when hosting a children’s birthday party

Let’s start with a simple fact: For a child, their birthday can be more important than other holidays throughout the year, including Easter and even Christmas. This one day each year is the time when your child is given a party that is specifically for them.

All the attention is directed at them, compared to Christmas where it is spread more evenly. For a parent, a child’s birthday party is a celebration of the baby which made them become parents or grew the family.

When it comes to these parties, we try our best to create the flashiest event possible, as if we’re in some unspoken contest against other parents. But before you start filling your Amazon basket with enormous quantities of decorations, remember that a birthday party can be just as memorable with a small group and low budget.

Our below tips will help to host a truly amazing children’s birthday party that suits their age and personality.


How many guests?

When it comes to toddlers and pre-school children’s birthday parties, we’ve found that the ideal number of guests is the age of that child plus one. As an example, if your child is four, let them choose five friends to invite.


How to invite the guests?

Let’s start off by saying that the way you send out invitations is up to you. Choosing paper or email invitations is your choice to make.

Sending an invite via email is discrete and convenient, but schools can have policies against these kinds of communication. It’s best to check if there are any barriers such as this before choosing how to invite your guests.

If you decide to send paper invitations, we encourage you to leave a little note at the bottom asking for the paper to be recycled rather than thrown in the rubbish. When creating the invitations, you can get the child involved as a way of connecting with them by sharing the experience. Writing out names on the invitations and handing them out builds excitement for the party.

Or you can choose to have us create bespoke invitations, have them posted directly to your guests or handed out by a themed character at school! 

Be sure to include a relevant theme for your invites, along with a date, location, way to RSVP and RSVP deadline. The last two are especially useful for planning, as you’ll know how much food to prepare.



Should I invite the whole class?

When your kids are at school, the number of guests you invite becomes a bit of a tricky dilemma. If you only intend to invite a few select children, you don’t need to worry as you’re not going to make the rest of the class feel left out.

Perhaps with this arrangement you could create a small celebration that includes everybody else from the class by bringing in a small cake for everyone to share.

However, if you are planning to invite more than half of the class, we recommend you invite everybody. This avoids hurt feelings or other parents feeling you are rude. Just imagine if your child were one of just two kids without an invitation.


How to have a ‘no present’ policy?

Presents can bring about envy and rivalries amongst kids, so some parents prefer to avoid this altogether by simply not allowing presents.

It’s perfectly fine to do this and have a note to state this on your invitations. A line that states “no presents, please” or “your presence is enough of a gift” is a safe way to state such a policy. There’s no need to share your reasoning or explanation for such a policy.


When should I serve food?

Of course, this does depend on the time of the party. It will most likely be hosted through either lunch or dinner time. What we’re trying to say here is that you should expect to serve these kids a meal.

The most obvious dishes to serve are pizza, sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers or party finger food packs. These are kid-friendly foods that are easy to cook and serve. But we will say that we have our own outdoor pizza oven, which always goes down well with kids as they love decorating their bases.

If the party doesn’t fall within meal times, snacks are still a good idea. Fruit, crisps and little finger foods are very good for before the cake comes out. Avoid sweet foods, as that will spoil their appetite for the birthday cake.

If you have kids coming who have special needs or food allergies, make sure you have the appropriate food on hand in order to give everybody a chance to eat.



Do parents need to be fed?

As a rule of thumb, if you’re feeding kids the parents should have some food as well. They will greatly appreciate the feeling of being included, as it can be very boring for them to sit waiting for the time to take their child home.

We’ve also noticed that if parents are included and feel cared about, they’ll be more likely to help out. So do include parents in the headcount for birthday cake if you expect some helping hands.

If you’re hosting a party with a large crowd that involves many adults, try to offer more grown up food and drinks for the adults. A nice glass of wine will be appreciated compared to some orange juice or cola.


When to open presents?

We strongly recommend saving the opening of presents for after your guests have left. We say this for a few reasons:

  • Opening presents in front of the other kids can create rivalries amongst parents (who bought the best gift) and envy amongst the other kids. Plus it should also be considered that some families simply can’t afford to spend more than a few pounds on a present. It can be embarrassing when comparisons are made amongst the kids and parents.
  • The party should focus on guests spending time together. Making a big event out of opening gifts places lots of value on materialism, rather than the quality of the experience with other people.
  • Opening presents can take a long time. If your party is short, the children would probably prefer to spend the time playing rather than opening presents, or watching somebody opening presents.
  • If your child has an introverted personality, it can be quite a distressing experience for them. A shy child can feel anxious and uncomfortable being watched by all the guests as they open presents.
  • A birthday party is a very stimulating experience for kids. By the time you get to the present-opening, they have possibly reached the point of overstimulation. It can be a better idea to open presents in a calm environment after your guests have left.
  • By having presents opened in a more relaxed setting, it is much easier to keep track of all the gifts that have been received. This means nobody gets left out when you’re sending thank you cards and there are no hard feelings from the parents of your guests.

In the grand scheme of things, you know your child and their friends the best. If you feel that opening presents in front of guests is the right thing to do, then go for it.


Should I have goodie bags?

If we write here that goodie bags are not necessary at a birthday party, most parents will probably breathe a sigh of relief. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a nice gesture to send your guests home with something special, but it doesn’t have to be a plastic bag that can’t be recycled.

To us, creating a memorable experience means personalisation. It’s the thought that counts, so if you want to send your guests home with something, consider some homemade rock buns or a colouring book. There’s no need to go over-the-top with lavish items. Simple is often best.


Should I send thank you cards?

A thank you card is a very nice gesture that shows your gratitude for the guest attending and, if relevant, providing a present. Having your child thank guests for coming to the party as they arrive and leave is a very nice way to show gratitude in-person. A thank you card helps to reinforce that gratitude.

If your child is old enough, get them involved in making the thank you cards. If they are able to write, having them write the message or simply sign their name (depending on their ability-level) adds a personal touch that will be greatly appreciated.

For children that aren’t of writing age, give them a crayon or some glitter to do a bit of mark-making on the front of the card, so that they are involved.



Final notes about hosting a children’s birthday party

Three final quick things to consider when preparing for your child’s birthday party.

Firstly, if you plan to rent out a venue or hire entertainment for the party, please do consider leaving them a tip. Treat it as if you were at a restaurant, which is usually a 10-15% tip. It’s also appreciated if you leave a review for the entertainer on their preferred platform, whether it be Google, their website or somewhere else.

Secondly, if you intend to send your guests home with a goodie bag, have a few extras prepared in case somebody brings along a sibling. That way, they don’t feel left out. Likewise, prepare extra cake in case of this happening. If you have no unexpected guests, the extra cake won’t go to waste as no doubt somebody will ask for seconds.

Last of all, prepare a backup plan in case things don’t go the way you planned. This is especially a good idea if you are hosting outdoors. Plan alternative activities, bring extra supplies and watch out for extra kids who are feeling left out and give them something to do.

So there you have it. The proper way to host a children’s birthday party yourself. If you have any questions for us, please don’t hesitate to get into contact.