So, you're planning a kids' party...
“Once upon time there was a fair mummy (fair of character, rather than complexion). We’ll call her… Kate. Kate was planning her son’s first birthday party.
Kate just wanted it to go well, for all the kids to have a wonderful time and for the adults to be able to enjoy it too. She wanted her house, which she had given as the venue (without due diligence it would seem) to look spectacular, with all areas full of birthday wonderfulness.
She wanted it all to coordinate and the theme to be tasteful, but, you know, kids’ party appropriate. Kate had been to many parties for grown ups before and loved planning them. She had also been to a couple of kids parties, so felt pretty equipped.
But, slowly the budget unraveled because where Kate had thought she was saving money, she actually ended up spending more. On party bags for one thing!
Kate wasn’t silly, but she vowed to never make these mistakes again and to help out anyone who needed it so they didn’t either.
As we said, Kate was very fair…”
My first experience of hosting a kids' party
Luckily, we’ve got (ahem) Kate’s tips from that party and from many hours spent scrolling the Net and talking to friends to help you if you’re planning a kids’ party. And for this, we’ll plan a kids’ themed birthday party with the 8 key things you’ll need to think about, with some helpful suggestions.
I won’t lie, there was an excited panic when I was planning B’s first birthday. But, I’ve always loved hosting parties and honestly, I just applied a lot of the things I learned through that, with a bit of common sense and realism (though not as much realism as I would now!).
So, whilst it can seem intimidating at first, it’s all just child’s play really when you get down to the basics…! Right..?
We held the party at home and the jury’s out whether or not I would do that again! So, yes, the basics are the same as a party for adults, but the main things you need to think differently about are:
- The time – not interfering with nap times and not being too long
- Decorations – how to create that kids’ party vibe!
- Food for different age groups – from babies to toddlers, to meat-free, to the adults.
- Entertainment – you need to keep the kids entertained and I was terrified, so we chose to have Sarah from Love Baby Bonding come and do an interactive session with music and singing. It went down a storm!
- Favours/ Party bags – a little thank you with age-appropriate contents.
When it came to party bag fillers, I spent quite some time checking online sites to find suitable bits. In the end, I really wish I’d seen pre-filled party bags as an option. Because by the time I’d trawled various places and then sourced what was both affordable and age-appropriate, I realised that the prices were great but they weren’t going to all come in time. And what if they were awful when they arrived!
So I dashed around various shops to get the fillers! I couldn’t find bags I liked so I made them. Yes, it was a nice touch to make the bespoke party bags but when it came to midnight the night before the party I was wishing I’d not bitten off so much!
In terms of theme, I didn’t do a cartoon/character themed party for B’s 1st birthday as he was too young to have any real favourites then. We didn’t really watch TV, save for that godforsaken Pig on YouTube. And she wasn’t invited at that stage!
So the ‘theme’ was more retro-inspired ‘little man’ and the decor was whites and blues. With moustaches and bow ties for decorations and a bit of fun.
Thinking ahead to B’s big 3 (oh, my) birthday party, we went to Disney World in Florida in June last year and Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, and Lightning McQueen have become firm fixtures since. We actually got the chance to meet a human toy soldier and the boys got to play in a life-size version of a Toy Story play area. Amazing!
So, we’ve teamed up with Party Bags and Supplies Online and I’m going to take you through my 8 essentials for a kids’ birthday party.
Whilst, Party Bags and Supplies Online are kindly offering you the chance to win £30 to spend on their site* (see all the details below). Hurrah!
Making a kids' party child's play
Your kids’ party budget underpins everything. The kids will love the party whatever your budget, but you need to think realistically about how much you can afford and work from there. Then when you’ve worked out what are the priorities like venue, food, entertainment, decorations, start listing what you’d like to have. Then cost them and prioritise those elements.
If your dream party involves bouncy castles and climbing frames, is hiring a venue that provides all this more cost effective and less weather-dependent than hiring them at home? Or is hiring them for your garden or venue absolutely the way forward?
If you’re not having it at home, how much is the venue and what’s included? What extras will you need to supply?
How long will you have to keep the supplies going, or how long should your kids’ party be? I’d say anything up to 1.5/2 hours for babies, 2 hours for toddlers, longer for older kids.
If you’re having entertainment, what is the package? How many kids’? What is the deposit? How much extra will it be if you have more kids than first stated?
And this will lead us nicely on to the guest list.
The Guest List
Planning your kids’ party guest list
You’re ready to send out your party invites. Stop and think carefully about your guest list. Not to be dramatic, but this is something that could make or break your budget and your spirit! Things you absolutely need to consider:
- Your budget
- Your venue and how many can it hold (comfortably). Remember, if you’re at home and the weather is behaving badly, you’ll need to be able to accommodate everyone inside.
- Who you really want there – family, playgroup/nursery/school friends, neighbours…
You need to encourage those RSVPs, so you don't over or under cater and to preserve your sanity as much as possible
- That, when you invite one child, that might actually mean 4 guests (if they have siblings and parents/carers are coming, too)
- Your entertainment. If you’re bringing in outside help, you’ll definitely want to have an extremely tight grip on the numbers. Prices are based on certain numbers (much like weddings). Under or overestimating could leave you weeping into your piggy bank.
Disney Themed Party Ideas
Now onto the fun stuff – deciding on your theme. I’m sure your kids have some favourites. The great thing is you’re likely to find those favourities on the Party Bags and Supplies site.
For us, because we went to Disney World, it makes sense to use a Disney themed party as an example. So, based on our favourite parts of the trip, and what all the boys in our family love, my choices of Disney themed party ideas are:
The party inspiration goes on, so do have a look, but these are our top 5 favourites!
Disney Toy Story Themed Decorations
Now you’ve got your theme, you’ll need to think about your kids party decorations. There are two ways you can go with decor: You can choose specific colours as a theme, or you can go all out and have fully themed and customised decor.
Personally, I’d mix a bit of both. Toy Story is very primary colours based (go figure), but there’s a lot of green, yellow, red and purple, so I’d focus a little more on those colours as a general palette.
Or, you can get a little help with the The Toy Story Pack from Party Bags and Supplies online. The one we got is for 8 people and includes:
8 Cups, 8 Plates, 20 Napkins and 1 Tablecover. Plus 8 Toy Story pre-filled party bags each containing – 1 x Toy Story Punch Ball Balloon, Toy Story disc shooter, Toy Story Maze Puzzle, 1 Toy Story Spin Top (assorted designs), 1 Toy Story Soldier (assorted designs, 1 supplied) and 1 Toy Story Sticker Strip (1 of 2 designs supplied).
The Toy Story dolls in this post are ours, but I think they look great as part of the decor. So, get creative and raid those toy cupboards for some easy extra decor.
To fancy dress or dress fancy? Guests could come in costumes, too. But if you wanted to take the pressure off with that one, I’m sure no one will complain. You’ve got your decorations, games and party bags sorted! Otherwise, the costumes could be part of the games and entertainment.
Party Games for a Disney Toy Story Themed Party
Of course, every party needs some games and entertainment and if you’re not getting in outside entertainment, Pinterest is a great place to find some inspiration.
But, there are some classic games that are still winners, that you can easily adapt. That’s exactly what I’ve done for our Toy Story theme (and you can find some themed goodies at Party Bags and Supplies). What about:
Food and Drink for your Kids’ Party
So, party food and drink is something that I definitely had to give a little more thought. Not just the actual food, but what to put it all in. I remember I’d been to a few parties with B as a baby and so I’d learned from that and come up with my own ideas. An important thing is to remember the people with kids/babies that they have to carry. They need food that is easy to navigate one handed and easy to carry. Think cups with reusable straws and even handles and lids. They were a godsend for me!
If you’ve got babies coming, then there might be some restrictions on what they can eat and if you’ve got pescetarians or veggies like me, or people with allergies then don’t forget those options!
And a cake! Every party needs a cake. I found so many Disney themed options on Pinterest. My cake skills do not even nearly extend that far, so you can always just buy one and stick a topper on it like I did!
It’s not cheating, it’s being savvy, right!
Top Tip: Remember that parents with babies or kids they have to carry will need food and drink that is easy to navigate one handed and cups that are accessible and as spill proof as possible.
Toy Story Party Food Ideas
The great thing about kids’ party food is that you can make the simple quite magical with just a dash of creativity. Add a couple of funny labels and you can make the everyday sublime! I’ve pinned lots to my Pinterest Board, but here are some:
Disney Toy Story themed Party Bags or Favours
So, you’ve got your decorations and games and food sorted and it’s time to bid farewell and thanks for coming. Phew! If you wanted to give a little extra thank you, then pre-filled party bags are game changers. Out of the Toy Story pre-filled bags, the kids’ favourite was the huge Toy Story balloon – balloons will always be winners! Then, the stickers, shooter, toy soldier and maze puzzle. The spin top was less popular, mainly because they struggled with it.
It’s not included in this pack, but I’d personally add the Toy Story jigsaw puzzle pack. They come in packs of 4, so you could buy two packs and separate them to put one in each of the 8 bags.
And one thing I really liked about the Party Bags and Supplies site is that Prefilled Party bags start from a very budget friendly £1.00. so, if you’re out of party bags ideas, just have a look, your inspiration is right there!
Where to Shop
Buying party bags and supplies online
Where do you buy party supplies online? Well, I think we’ve established Party Bags and Supplies as a great place not just for kids’ party supplies, but for all party supplies.
I almost exclusively shop online and wrote some of my online shopping tips here. But, you need to have a level of trust in a brand, their site and products. So, what happens when you buy from Party Bags and Supplies? Well, first you’ve got to make the choice of what you want. That could take a while! Once you’ve ordered, you’ll complete your registration, place your order and choose your delivery option.
There was a little extra bonus option via Trusted Shops to guarantee your purchases. It’s not just for the Party Bags and Supplies site, it applies to any retailer with the Trusted Shops certification and symbol. So, that extra option was pretty impressive, I thought.
I got an immediate confirmation email and then just sat back and waited. My order came well packaged and with the reminder that the party bags contain small parts, so they’re not suitable for under 3s.
Of course, there’s no point in getting too stressed, the kids will enjoy whatever you do! But, hopefully, these tips help a little if you were looking for some inspiration and advice from one who has been there!
Online safety tip
I shop online in most cases, but I only trust sites with the right security certificate (that little padlock where you see the web address is one thing to look out for).
Win £30 to spend on the Party Bags and Supplies Site
Over to you. You have the chance to win *£30 to spend on a Party Pack from this link only on the Party bags and Supplies website.
To enter, go to the site and let us know which party theme you’d choose. And don’t forget to have a look at the sale whilst you’re there!
You can also earn additional extra entries. Good luck!
Open to UK residents aged 18 or over only.
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