Tips on Hosting a Great Party for All Ages

With the twins first birthday just around the corner (wow how time flies!) I have had many people ask me what have I got planned?  Well nothing yet, but with eight kiddies in the house let’s just say I have party planning down to a pretty sane art form and I am happy to share some of the things that have worked for me!

Spread the news:

Give out those invitations at least two weeks before the big day to allow people to work it into their schedules. There is no magic number of how many guests to invite, but you do need enough children to play games, have partners and make up equal teams. It is also important to make sure it is a number you can manage giving consideration to how many of your own children will be there, your tolerance level, and the amount of space you have.  If the party is for a child under the age of 2, I would definitely keep the numbers to a minimum otherwise it will be overwhelming. Then use the guest list to keep track of RSVP’s which in turn will assist in calculating food needs and loot bags required.

What’s your theme?

Next you need to decide what the theme of your party is going to be.  If it is a holiday party such as Halloween than that part is obvious. However for birthday celebrations and friendship parties there are so many themes to choose from it can be downright overwhelming.  One word of advice – stick to something your child likes.  The following are a few suggestions:

Ages 1 – 2:  Circus, Animals, Dora the Explorer, Winnie the Pooh,

Ages 3 – 5:  Creepy crawlers, butterflies, dress up, zoo, super heroes, princess, pirates

Ages 6 – 12: Harry Potter, Hollywood, Space, Science

The Schedule

Next is the most critical aspect of your entire planning – the schedule.  It doesn’t matter what type of party you are having you should schedule 10 – 20 minute chunks of time for specific activities.  The following is a plan that totals two hours, which is perfect because planning a three hour party is too challenging and anything longer is ridiculously insane.

Meet and greet (10 minutes)

Not everyone arrives promptly.  As guests trickle in, use this opportunity to show guests around and introduce them to each other. (Tip – if you have older children this job as ‘host’ could be deligated to them). Any house rules, including rooms that are off limits should be announced at this time, and name tags are always a good idea especially if there is a mix between school, family and sports friends.  If the party is for a baby (or babies) be sure to have someone who can entertain them or feed them a small snack while you are showing people around.

Party time! (20 minutes)

Schedule two games which are 10 minutes in length. Children tend to run through games much quicker than you think, and in keeping them short you will have their attention longer. Piñata’s are loads of fun, but tend to take a lot longer than 10 minutes especially if it is really hard to break.  If you are planning on having one then use this entire block of time just for the Pinata.  Once it is broken have an older sibling or another adult divide the candy and loot equally and place in the loot bags so no child is left with none.

Craft time (10 minutes)

Rules, games, taking turns and running around usually wears everyone out (unless you have a bunch of monkeys like I do), so a quiet craft lasting about 10 minutes serves as a nice cool down before eating.  Examples of such crafts are bookmarks, decorating a picture frame or a clay figure.

Food time! (15 minutes)

Pizza, fruit, chips and juice boxes usually go well with even the pickiest eater, and the best part is that minimal preparation and clean up is required.  To avoid roaming and other hazards (such as choking) have all children sit at the table.  If the guests are young children perhaps provide a place mat they can draw on to help keep them occupied and at the table. During this time is as good as any to chat with your child’s friends and get to know them better.  If there are more adults than children – well use this time to catch up with the adults!

Game time! (20 minutes)

The children are refuelled and rearing to go!  Add a few more games at 10 minutes each (one of them active) to help refresh and lift any fallen spirits.

Cake Time! (15 minutes)

Cupcakes are terrific and personally I prefer them, however others enjoy the  impact a great cake makes! However, with all the excitement, the kiddies typically don’t eat a whole lot so to avoid waste cut the cake into small pieces. (make sure to enjoy some of it later on with your glass of wine).

Presents galore! (15 minutes)

If the party you are hosting is indeed a birthday party, well it could be easy to skip this part but every guest is eager to see the birthday boy or girl open their gift.  A little pre-party etiquette will pay off as well.  No child is too young to express appreciation and display some grace. If this is a holiday party you are hosting then a holiday themed craft would be an excellent activity for older children.  For younger children why not read them a story?  A spooky tale in celebration of Halloween, or a silly Valentine story is sure to put a smile on their faces.  If ‘tis is the season’ you are celebrating, the list of possible books are endless (be sure to check out my favourite titles).

The pick up (10 minutes)

It’s almost pick up time and by now if you haven’t gone completely bonkers then you are doing great! Your bottle of chardonnay should be chilled (if it isn’t what are you waiting for?).  While waiting for the guests to be picked up play a game of telephone or Simon Says to keep them engaged and in one place.  If your baby was the guest of honour, then this might be a good time to put them down for a nap to avoid them getting cranky as the excitement dies down. When a child is picked up be sure to have your own child hand out the loot bags and personally thank each guest.

The aftermath

If you have used this party planning schedule then you should still be sane and your house in relatively good condition. Now is a good time to sit down, enjoy that glass of wine and give yourself a pat on the back for hosting a great party!  I often take this time to reflect on the fun that was had and don’t worry too much about cleaning up – yet.

What about you?  Do you have any party tips, tricks and ideas to dish out?  I want to hear them!

Until next time

Chantel, momof8crazymonkeys

  • Kathleen

    This is awesome Chantel!  I will print and keep it in my files.

  • Memory14

    As a mom of 6 with another on the way and they all vary in age (oldest is 13 and youngest currently is 3.5) it’s always a challenge to plan a party that everyone can be involved in. We started allowing the older children to invite one friend of their own to each birthday party in this house to give them someone they can play with and keep them entertained. 

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