Time to scream, it’s Halloween!

It’s hard to believe that Halloween is fast approaching but, it is, and in true 2020 style it looks like it’s going to look a little different this year. But, that certainly doesn’t mean Halloween is cancelled – far from it, in fact!

While the normal trick or treating and Halloween parties may not be possible, Halloween falls on a Saturday this year so, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate all day at home giving both you and the children something fun to look forward to!

Here are my tops tips for celebrating Halloween at home this year.

Structure your celebration

It doesn’t matter if things don’t run exactly to schedule, and it’s yours to change throughout the day as suits your mood, but having a good idea of what you want to do during the day will make planning easier and allow you to enjoy the day with the family.

My suggested activities are as follows:

All’s quiet the night before
Pumpkin carving
Start to decorate the house

Fantastically frightening morning
Halloween crafting
Set up scavenger hunt
Scary scavenger hunt
Set up tea party table

Spectacularly spooky afternoon
Spooktacular tea party
Spooky cinema
Black hat dinner party and party games
Lights out

Build-up to the occasion

If you’re anything like me I find the build-up to Christmas as much fun as the actual day so why not build-up to Halloween in a similar way.

How about counting down the days from the start of October with a countdown calendar. Mark the days off the calendar and in reverse to the Christmas advent calendar, give the little ones some sweets to add to their Halloween sweetie pot each day so they build up a stash to enjoy on the big day! Dracula fangs, eyeballs, and mini chocolate pumpkins are just a few recommendations to keep things spooky!
Download my Countdown to Halloween calendar here and we can countdown together!
https://mailchi.mp/008df5e4dd7f/the-kids-party-planning-guide

Decorate the house

Decorating the house for Christmas is great for getting into the festive spirit and getting into the spooky spirit should be no different! Don’t worry I’m not suggesting you have bats and skeletons hanging around the house for the entire month of October (unless you want to that is) but starting to put the decorations up at least the night before will really give the children something to look forward to.

As always with a party at home, I recommend the party table is your centrepiece and because you’ll probably use that same table for crafting, it’s best to set this up after that activity. The night before, set up some Halloween themed balloons, banners, and other wall hanging decorations. I recommend a Happy Halloween banner to match your colour scheme and then a few fun banners such as a string of mini bats or ghosts along with some fairy lights.

Halloween themed tableware will instantly transform your room. Go for a themed tablecloth, themed paper plates, cups, and napkins for your spooktacular tea party. Keep the set up in place for dinner too.


A backdrop is always an option and it could be really fun to make some felt items with the kids to pin on it, I’m thinking mini ghosts, pumpkins, and bats and you can hang your bunting over the backdrop too – make sure your backdrop, bunting and felt items are in contrasting colours.
To make your backdrop, fabric is a great choice as it’s not too expensive and hangs well. You don’t have to be a master with a sewing machine; just hand sew a top pocket, using any kind of stitching, and thread through some good quality string to hang your backdrop with and hang from either a wall or the ceiling with Command no damage wall hangers. If the long edges need tidying up, you can hand sew a pocket on each side too.

Honeycomb decorations are perfect for Halloween and cheap to buy. Get some in orange and white and you can make your very own pumpkins and ghosts to hang around the house and to use as table centrepieces. Just cut some eyes, a nose, and a mouth out of black card and fix them to the honeycomb using either a glue gun or sticky pads. Here’s a handy template for the pumpkin cut-outs.
https://www.rd.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/HalloweenJack.pdf

People may not be knocking on your front door in the usual way on the 31st October but it’s still nice to decorate your door to show people that you’re celebrating.

And don’t forget to pick up a pumpkin to carve with the children the night before!

Get your craft on!

Some of my favourite seasonal decorations are ones I’ve made with my nieces and nephews but coming up with crafting ideas and buying all the bits can be very time consuming so let me introduce you to Crafty Party Box!

Their craft boxes include all the materials you need as well as instructions, activity sheets, jokes, facts, mindfulness, stickers, temporary tattoos, and more! Delivered straight to your door, in one box, they certainly take the stress out of crafting. And they’re big Halloween fans too! Their Halloween box is bursting with materials for four ghoulish crafts so it’s perfect to use in the run-up to Halloween and as an activity on the day. Here’s a quick sneak peek at the items included in the box and some ideas of where you can use them.

Make your very own Jack-o’-lantern jar. Decorate with orange tissue paper and pop in the LED tealight that’s included in the box and watch the spooky effect of it glowing in the dark. Perfect for adding to your spooky cinema.

Decorate a fun 3D wooden bat with black paint and glitter glue pens and then hang on your backdrop.

Make a spider-web with craft sticks and yarn, stick on your foam spider sticker, and add to your party table.

And finally, there’s an adorable (but still spooky!) spider decoration to make which you can even pop onto the end of a pencil and watch its legs jiggle as you write.

The Halloween Craft Box can be ordered from Crafty Party Box using the link below.
https://craftypartybox.co.uk/products/halloween-box
Check out their blog too, no ordering required just use items you already have around your home while letting Crafty Party Box walk you through the process!
https://craftypartybox.co.uk/blogs/crafty-party-box

And when the celebrations are over, don’t forget to pack your crafts away for next year so you start building up a good stock of decorations. And you’ll be sure to add to that collection as Crafty Party Box is already planning what to include in next year’s Halloween box!

Happy crafting! 

Scary scavenger hunt

Trick or treating may be off the cards this year but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the treat buckets out and hunt for sweets and other spooky items! If the weather is kind, it’s a fabulous activity to do in the garden much like an egg hunt at Easter. Make up some signs (themed using the free app Canva if you have time) or use these mini table centrepieces, stick them to garden canes to mark where the treats are, set the kiddies off with a list of things to come back with and you’ve got time to set up the party table for lunch! Include items like a witch’s broom, a witch’s hat, or whatever you have left in your Halloween party box / dressing up kit plus some chocolate and sweets, all carefully placed around the garden. This activity will also work in the house too.

Dress to impress

Most children I know jump at the chance to dress up whatever the occasion! As they won’t be dressing up for trick or treating then dressing up for a spooktacular tea party and a black hat dinner is the next best thing!

Your spooktacular tea party

Use your Halloween themed party table to have a spooktacular tea party at lunchtime. Delish has some fabulously frightening party food ideas that are easy to prepare. My favourites are their ghost pizza bagels, their ghostly cheese and crackers, bats made with Reece cups and Oreos, and Dracula’s dentures, made from cookies and mini marshmallows! Check out the links below for details of how to make yours.

https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/halloween/recipes/a49353/ghost-pizza-bagels-recipe/
https://peasandcrayons.com/2015/10/spooky-snacks-and-healthy-hallowen-treats.html
https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/halloween/videos/a56190/reeses-bats-video/
https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a55668/dracula-dentures-recipe/

Add some sandwiches cut into spooky shapes and some cupcakes topped with orange icing and rice paper Halloween toppers or your own toppers made from icing and you’re all set for a spooktacular lunch!

Create your own spooky cinema

Close the curtains, throw some cushions on the floor and add some pumpkin honeycomb decorations and your homemade Jack-o’-lantern jar to set the scene. Make some popcorn, pour everyone a glass of beetlejuice (otherwise known as blackcurrant squash), and choose a child -friendly spooky film to settle down to for the afternoon. Casper, Harry Potter, and Monsters Inc are some of my favourites but I’m sure your little ones will have a long list of their own.

Black hat dinner

After the film, it’s time to put your black hat on for dinner. Use your party table set up along with your own cutlery and crockery for a deluxe black hat dinner party! Use some themed napkins leftover from your pack and perhaps even add some spiders web table placemats to mark the occasion.
Check out the Delish website for some simple but deliciously scary recipes including eyeball pasta and Jack ‘O lantern quesadillas!
https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/halloween/g636/halloween-dinner-recipes/

Finish up with some sweet treats and maybe even a Halloween themed chocolate cake with an orange Halloween topper followed by some ghostly party games.
I love Halloween bingo and pin the spider on the spider’s web! You can download free Halloween bingo cards here, and all the instructions are included too. http://www.crayola.co.uk/free-coloring-pages/print/halloween-bingo-no1-coloring-page/

And before you know it All Hallows Eve draws to an end, and it’s time for lights out!

I really hope you find these ideas and resources useful. Keep an eye on my Instagram page for more party ideas and Party Boxes, and don’t forget to share your Halloween photos as I’d love to see them!

https://www.instagram.com/party_boxbydesign

Our guide to theming your party!

During lockdown I rediscovered many of my favourite comedies and when I starting re-watching the first series of Motherland and saw the episode where Julia is inviting the other parents and children to her daughter Ivy’s birthday party and Anne asks her “what’s the theme?”, it made me chuckle. The look of terror on Julia’s face says it all as she realises the party is going to involve a lot more time and effort than she had planned to put in and a lot of judgement from the other parents!

But I’m here to reassure you that firstly, party planning these days can be done by ordering from a few well-chosen small businesses. They’re willing to help you through every step of the way and give you ideas of how you can make your party stand out. It doesn’t have to take up all your time unless you want it to, and it really doesn’t have to cost a fortune. And secondly, you can have the best fun theming kids’ parties, which is why I started my business! And at the end of the day, it’s what your child thinks that matters, no one else.

So why is party theming important?

A theme is much more than your child choosing their favourite character. It’s ultimately about making memories. Children’s birthday parties were a bit different back in my day when branded, themed items were far less commonplace. But I vividly remember my woodland themed party. A hedgehog themed cake was the centrepiece, made by my incredibly talented Mum and we have lots of photos of that party. Elements from the theme connected with people, it made them want to take pictures, and I remember the party and that cake to this day, well over 30 years later.

A theme marks a point in time. I remember when Care Bears were around the first time, and my parents took my friends and me to see the Care Bears film at the cinema for one of my birthdays. I can date that birthday because of the theme, much like my niece will date her recent Frozen 2 themed birthday.

A theme helps bring everything together so your party will look great, it will also help you organise the party in so many ways. It will help to determine the colour scheme, the invitation style, gifts for the party bags, the cake design, and the entertainment or activity, to name but a few. It will make lots of decisions easy, and it’s a chance to get creative. It will also help other parents greatly in terms of what your child is interested in so they can buy a relevant present.

A well put together theme can make your party stand out from the rest. Yes the whole class may have had dinosaur themed parties but you can make yours different, whether it’s the tableware, the food or the entertainment, think about what’s already been done, and how you can do it differently. And if you’re struggling or don’t have time to figure it out, ask for help. Lots of us small party companies don’t just sell stuff. We love to get involved in the creative process and we’re sure to come up with something to make your party standout!

Knowing where and when to use your theme for not only maximum effect but also maximum value for money is important because at the end of the day, kids just want to have fun and most could do that with a cardboard box in the garden and not much else. Whether your party is at home or in a hall, there are a few simple rules of thumb we suggest you stick to.

Keep things simple by concentrating on a few key areas to make an impact. You may want to make a big impression before people have even walked in the door but remember they will only see that for a few minutes so a huge balloon garland at the front door may not be the best place to spend your budget. And whatever you do inside, needs to live up to or be better than what people see when they arrive. It’s always good to signpost your party but a welcome banner and a few balloons in your theme colours will do the job just as well and save you money to spend in areas where people will spend more time.

A fabulous looking party table makes a great centrepiece, and is an ideal backdrop for taking photos so concentrate your theme here. Themed tableware, a colour matched tablecloth, themed food labels, themed toys from the kid’s toy boxes, and fun themed food with your cake as the centrepiece will do the trick!

Keep the food simple. The children are not interested in your culinary skills, they want something to keep them going not a huge banquet. Some of the best kids’ parties I’ve hosted have been where the food was kept really simple. Individual crisp packets in a range of flavours, boxed raisins, individual fruit skewers, wrapped chocolate bars and themed cupcakes not only go down really well but also work brilliantly for the new normal rather than the sharing bowls of days gone by.

Not everything at the party has to be themed. Using the theme colours for items like balloons and honeycomb decorations is highly effective and you can add any unused leftovers to your party box to be used at your next party. Fabric bunting is a fab way of personalising your party and if you get the colour choice right, and remember you can have different colours on each side, you could be using it at parties for years to come which is good for the environment, good for your pocket and keeps the memories of parties gone by alive!

If you’ve booked entertainment, this will likely be a considerable chunk of your party budget so make sure you get value for money. Either meet with or arrange a call with the company so you understand exactly what you are getting for your money. Arrange arrival times, understand how much time they need to set up, and how much space they need. If it’s a DJ, for example, make sure they are well briefed on your child’s favourite music, ask them to theme any messages over the microphone, to play some themed tracks and agree music for the party games. If it’s a balloon artist or entertainer, ask if they can use your theme in their show. If they have entertained at other parties in your social circle, make them aware of this so they can add in some different elements rather than repeating a show the children have already seen. And forgive me but I’ve just been sided tracked by thoughts of Animal Man from Motherland! And if they don’t call you the day prior to the party to check through the final details, make sure you call them.

Your last couple of opportunities to create an impression are your party bags and thank you cards so make sure these follow your theme through in some way. Having something themed to take away with them will keep kids talking about your party and it doesn’t have to be plastic! There are lots of small businesses out there selling fabulous party bags complete with contents for all the popular themes such as dinosaurs, flamingos, unicorns with some great plastic alternative goodies. If your theme is licensed choose a cotton bag so the printed fabric it’s made out of is the themed element. It’s something for your guests to keep and good for the environment too. And don’t forget to personalise both your party bags and thank you cards. Everyone likes seeing their name on stuff including children.

And these rules don’t just apply to the at-home or hall party. If your party is at an activity centre, you can still apply these rules. If the activity is at a spy mission centre, for example, then go for camouflage tableware with colour matched balloons and commission some fab camo goody bags and your party will really come alive!

And lastly, whatever the party theme, remember to have fun making memories!





At home party activities for little ones!

You’ve chosen your party theme, the invites have been sent, the tableware and decor purchased, and you now turn your attention to what happens when everyone is at the party.

Activities for parties taking place at home can be challenging, especially in these strange times we find ourselves living through. Wouldn’t it be great if you could order everything you needed to provide a fun activity and have it delivered to your door, just like you can with our tableware party box? Let us introduce you to a company that recently caught our eye, who is providing exactly that.

Littlehandskeptbusy started as a blog with lots of fun, simple, educational, and stimulating activities for your little ones. The blog is going from strength to strength, and they now sell Littlehandskeptbusy activity boxes too.

With mix and match pottery boxes including 2 ceramic/porcelain pieces of your choice, 4 pots of paint and a paintbrush, just add some jars of water, and you’re ready to go!

We think they work particularly well for birthday parties. When everyone’s finished eating, clear the table, provide each child with a box, and let them enjoy painting and creating a lasting party memory to take home! Priced at just £6.95 per box, they are beautifully packaged and decorated with a ribbon in your choice of colour, so they’ll make a great addition to your party table.

If your party theme is unicorns or cars, you’re really on to a winner as they have both in ready to paint coin banks, and there’s even a pamper box too. When the painting is finished, leave the items to dry while you play some traditional party games, and when it comes to home time, place them back in the beautiful boxes they came in, pop some cake in cake bags, and you’re done! No stressing about activities and no stressing about party bags either.

Add our tableware party box and a Littlehandskeptbusy activity box to your shopping list, and you’re well on your way to having your party all wrapped up!

The Littlehandskeptbusy blog is available on Facebook and Instagram, and the activity boxes are available to buy online using the following link.

https://littlehandskeptbusy.bigcartel.com/products
https://instagram.com/littlehandskeptbusy

How to create a Hey Duggee party!

Hey Duggee is incredibly popular with children and adults alike, so we’re not surprised how often we get asked if we sell Hey Duggee themed tableware. Unfortunately, no such licensed items seem to exist, and there’s not a huge choice of licensed, themed party decor either, so we’ve decided to put together our top tips to help you create your Hey Duggee themed party!

Where to Start
We’ve mentioned the Hey Duggee website in our posts before, and it really is a great place to start. It’s packed with tips a
nd inspiration to help you plan a Hey Duggee party at home. We’ve picked some of our favourite ideas from the website and added a few of our own too. Read on to find out more!

Tableware & Decorations
You can cre
ate a big impact with a well put together party table and some simple but effective decorations. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take months to make or organise.
Start by choosing your colour scheme. Try to stick to two or three primary colours and add others where you have lots of one item, for example, balloon bunches, napkins, and straws. A yellow tablecloth with a blue backdrop (if you’re having a backdrop) works really well for Hey Duggee. Layer up the colour with paper plates, cups, napkins, and straws in the other logo colours; green, orange, and red. Party tableware in assorted colours is cheap and easy to buy, so have fun with this. Make sure each place setting has at least one item in each different colour and mix up the combinations, so they’re not all the same. If you feel like getting your craft on, add a touch of Hey Duggee magic to your cups by sticking character cut-outs to them. You can download character templates from the Hey Duggee website.  Go to the last two pages of the shoebox theatre link below and you’ll find the downloadable characters. 
https://www.heyduggee.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Hey_Duggee_Shoebox.pdf
If you don’t have time to make your own, check out the Iconic Greats shop on eBay. They have fabulous, licensed, pre-made cut-outs for you to buy with 12 cut-outs from just £9.99. They come in all shapes and sizes so, if you really want to go to town, you can order a life-sized Hey Duggee to add to the party magic!


Hey Duggee bunting, and foil balloons are available from online retail sites such as eBay and Etsy, but we recommend the fabulous free downloadable bunting template from the Hey Duggee website. All you need is a colour printer, some paper or card, some string, a pair of scissors, and glue or double-sided tape.
https://www.heyduggee.com/make/hey-duggee-bunting/
The website also has free downloadable templates to “Hey Duggee up” your balloons. Use balloons in the logo colours, along with some in brown and purple to make Duggee and Betty, some card, a pair of scissors, and double-sided tape. Print the templates and before you know it, you’ll have the whole squirrel gang in balloon form! https://www.heyduggee.com/make/hey-duggee-balloons/


If you’re making a backdrop for your party table, fabric is a great choice to make it from as it’s not too expensive and hangs well. You don’t have to be a master with a sewing machine; just hand sew a top pocket, using any kind of stitching, and thread through some string to hang your backdrop with. If the long edges need tidying up, you can hand sew a pocket on each side too. Add your bunting either directly to the backdrop or hang over the backdrop. Print out the Hey Duggee logo along with a Happy Birthday message for the birthday boy/girl and add both to the backdrop too. Free apps like Canva are great for creating lettering, logos, and images for both your backdrop and other items, such as themed food labels and a welcome poster for the front door. Complete the look with balloon bunches positioned on either side of your backdrop.
But don’t feel you have to have a backdrop. You can create a similar effect by hanging bunting behind your party table, so you’re sure to get it in any photos. Next, hang colour-coordinated honeycomb decorations from the ceiling and place balloon bunches on either side of the table. Add a coloured runner to your table, along with some more character cut-outs or mini action figures, and you’re on track for an Instagram worthy party table.

Cake and Sweet Treats
If you’re a whizz in the kitchen or you just enjoy baking, then making your own cake will probably be the route you want to take. Bake a sponge, rainbow if you’re feeling adventurous, cover with icing, and then really go to town with the decorations.

Add some height with a personalised cake topper, available from both eBay and Etsy, and decorate with Hey Duggee character cut-outs or mini action figures.


If baking isn’t your thing, don’t panic. Pop to Tesco or Asda as they both have amazing Hey Duggee themed cakes for just £10 – job done.
Cupcakes make great party food, party bag fillers, and will add to the overall look of your table. Use bright coloured cases and place on a coloured, tiered cake stand for maximum effect. Recipes for Hey Duggee, Norrie, and Betty cupcakes are all available on the Hey Duggee website. Want an easy option? Buy some pre-made cupcakes with buttercream icing on top and add Hey Duggee rice paper toppers to each cake. Toppers are available from eBay.
The website also has recipes for Mr and Mr Crab macarons, Duggee jam tarts and Duggee and Sticky Stick biscuits, to name but a few.

Party Games
Pass the parcel is a firm favourite at many young children’s parties. Use Hey Duggee wrapping paper with coloured tissue paper and include Hey Duggee gifts such as themed stickers.
Colouring is a lovely party activity for young ones, so download some Hey Duggee colouring sheets for free from the Hey Duggee website. Add individual mini boxes of colouring pencils that can be taken home by each guest in their party bag, along with their masterpiece!

Music
Create some Hey Duggee atmosphere by downloading the Hey Duggee greatest hits album, to really get the party started!
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Duggee-Greatest-Hits-Badge-Woof/dp/B01MFDECSV

Party Bags
You won’t be surprised to hear that you can download Hey Duggee party bag templates from their website, and there’s even a video tutorial to show you how to make them. You will need a colour printer and some sturdy paper.
https://www.heyduggee.com/make/hey-duggee-party-bags/
Paper party bags in bright colours are readily available online from sites such as eBay so as an alternative use them as your base, then print and cut out some more of the balloon character downloads from the website and stick them to each bag to make a collection of character party bags using the same technique as for the balloons.
Fill your bags with Hey Duggee themed edible treats.

You’re now on the road to creating your Hey Duggee party, and we’re sure you’ll come up with many more ideas so, it’s time to get creative. And when you’re done, please share your Hey Duggee party table photos with us; we can’t wait to see them!

For more ideas visit the Hey Duggee website party page
https://www.heyduggee.com/make/tips-for-planning-a-hey-duggee-party/

We can help with coloured party tableware and decorations. Send us an email with your chosen colours and numbers, and we’ll get right back to you with a price.
Email: info@partyboxbydesign.co.uk

Activity Centre Party – Our Top Tips!

If your child is getting older, a birthday party at an activity centre is a great idea. These parties may seem hassle-free but there are usually several different options to choose from and if you’ve not made a booking like this before it’s worth reading our top tips!

Invites

  • As with any party, it’s best to avoid date clashes with other events. Chat to parents to check the date you’re planning is free before you make your booking.
  • Most activity centres offer downloadable branded invites. These are a great idea as they include all the essential information regarding the activity. It’s also worth setting up a WhatsApp/Facebook group so you can easily send updates in the run-up to the party and you can share the venue website.
  • Allow parents to let you know about any special requirements their children may have e.g. dietary requirements, allergies, medical conditions. As you will be paying for the activity per person and activity centres cannot guarantee extra places on the day, make it clear who the invite includes. It’s also worth noting if parents are expected to stay as spectators.

Choosing your activity

  • Your child may enjoy rock climbing, as an example, but if none of their friends do and they’re not interested in trying it, it may not be the best choice of activity. Again, it goes back to keeping it simple. Choose something that everyone can get involved with regardless of their ability and likes/dislikes. 
  • Visit the venue before you make your booking. They may have a good website but if you turn up and you’re not impressed it’s not worth booking it. Other things to consider when choosing a venue are its location, parking facilities, viewing area for spectators, and independent reviews (see next point).

Check independent review sites

  • In addition to your impression, independent review sites are a great way to judge a venue, check out TripAdvisor before confirming a booking. Asking for recommendations in local discussion groups on Facebook is another great source of information.

Packages

  • It depends on the activity, but most will include approx. 1 hour of activity with 30-40 mins for food at the end. Prices vary but expect to pay around £15-£20 per child for the activity with food an additional cost, usually around £8.50 per person for hot food. As the time allowed for food is usually limited, we recommend booking an early morning or mid-afternoon session. That way you will not need to provide a meal for the party guests, instead, you can use the 30 mins post activity for blowing out the candles on the cake, cake cutting, and eating and handing out party bags

Booking 

  • Read the booking form carefully and check exactly what is included. Is your post-party area shared or private? How long do you get for setting up/clearing away? Are there any extra costs you had not budgeted e.g. will children be expected to wear special gloves for the activity that come at an extra cost? Some venues allow one free adult per child so make sure you check this out, it should be detailed in the terms and conditions.
  • Read the terms and conditions fully, paying particular attention to the cancellation policy.
  • Make sure you advise the venue of any special requirements any of the group may have including dietary requirements and medical conditions.

Health and Safety

  • You are placing your children’s safety in the hand of others so due diligence is always advisable and will give you peace of mind. Most activity centres detail their health and safety guidelines on their website, if not ask to see a copy. A short safety briefing should take place before the activity commences with instructors present throughout the activity.

Liability

  • Disclaimer forms will be required to be completed for most activities. For under 18’s these need to be completed by a parent or guardian so check if your venue provides a downloadable copy that parents can complete in advance and hand in when they drop their child off. Some activity centres will expect you as the booker to sign for the group. If this is the case, make sure you make the other parents aware of this and ensure they are happy with it. For some venues this information may be included on the downloadable invite.

Set up considerations

  • If you have a private room for food and you decide to set it up yourselves check that you have at least the time of the activity for set up and time after the allocated food time to clear away. Remember, if you are setting up the room you will not be able to watch the activity. Most activity centres can set the room up for you however it’s usually only included in the cost if you choose the food package otherwise it may come at an additional cost. Local party planners also provide set up and clear away options.
  • Keep food and drink simple; birthday cake, cupcakes, and/or dry snacks are easy to transport, don’t need refrigeration, and are quick to set up.
  • Check what you need to take with you, if you are setting up the room yourself you may well need to take the following items with you: bin bags for rubbish, recycle bags for items that can be recycled, white tack or drawing pins for attaching decorations, paper cups, plates and napkins, cups and drinks for parents, jugs for juice, bowls/platters for snacks/food, tablecloths, food and drink, a present table/area for people to deposit their gifts, balloons and banners, party bags! Even if the venue is setting up the room you will need to remember the birthday cake, candles for the cake, matches or a lighter for the candles and a knife for cutting the cake
  • Finally, music always helps to create atmosphere so check if the room you are using has a music system you can connect your phone to so your child can enjoy their favourite tunes while eating their birthday cake!

Decorations

  • If providing your own, keep it simple; remember set up and clear up times are limited. Choose a theme and reflect that theme in your tableware, banners, and balloons – sometimes it can be as simple as napkins branded with your child’s favourite them accompanied by colour-coordinated cups, plates, and tablecloths. Balloons are a simple and cost-effective way of adding colour and creating a wow factor and you can take them home after the party to decorate your house. You can do the balloons yourself (invest in a good hand pump to save your breath!) or work with your local party shop who can help suggest designs within your budget. They can also provide helium-filled options.

On the day 

  • Make sure you arrive early to meet your party host so you can run through the details for the session with them. The person you made the booking may not be the person there on the day so a quick recap of what you are expecting is always advisable.

Party bags 

  • Most venues offer these at an additional cost but if you have time it’s worth doing them yourself as you can probably do them for the same cost, if not cheaper, you can include exactly what you want and you can personalise them. We like to try to avoid unnecessary plastic contents in party bags; seeds, colouring pencils, and pads, craft items, and books can all make good alternatives. We also suggest using a smaller pre-cut cake or cupcakes to save time.

Photos 

  • If these are permitted by the venue, take photos of the activity so you can send them out via your WhatsApp/Facebook group after the party. It’s also worth nominating someone to take photos of special moments like blowing the candles on the cake out, as it would be nice for you to be in these photos too.

Presents

  • When it’s time to open the presents, probably when you’re back at home, try to make a list of who gifted what so you can personalise your Thank You cards.

Most importantly 

  • Have fun making some great memories!

Home or Hall – Our Party Checklist!

We know there’s lots to do in the run-up to and on the day of your child’s birthday party, including looking after very excited birthday boys or girls so we believe in keeping things simple.  If you’re holding your party at home or hiring a hall check out our party checklist below…

Invites 

To avoid date clashes chat with other parents to check the date you’re planning is free. Paper invites still work well but so do Whatsapp/Facebook groups and that way you can easily send updates in the run-up to the party.  Make sure you include all the party details, so people know if food is provided and what the entertainment is.  Allow parents to let you know about any special requirements e.g. dietary requirements, allergies, etc. Make it clear if siblings are invited too and if parents are expected to stay or not. And make sure you follow up with everyone invited so you can plan well in terms of numbers expected. 

Directing guests 

Tying balloons on the front door is a great way to let people know where the party is. Banners and welcome posters work brilliantly too.  You can create some great simple, personalised designs welcoming guests using free sites like Canva and then all you need is some paper and a colour printer.  If your poster needs to be waterproof use either a laminator or a clear pocket to put the poster in before attaching to the door.

Venue or at home remember these items

Bin bags for rubbish, recycle bags for items that can be recycled, white tack or drawing pins for attaching decorations, candles for the cake, matches or a lighter for the candles, a knife for cutting the cake, paper cups, plates and napkins, cups and drinks for parents, jugs for juice, bowls/platters for snacks/food, tablecloths, food and drink, a present table/area for people to deposit their gifts, balloons and banners, prizes for party games and party bags!

Preparation

Do as much as you can in advance, blowing up balloons, preparing party bags, deciding on party games, and organising prizes will all help.  If using a hall, make sure you book it for at least 1 hour before the party for set up and at least 30 mins after the party to pack up.  Ensure furniture is included for your use. 

Timetable 

We’re not talking military precision here but having a loose idea of what time things will happen will help make sure things run well on the day.

Decorations

After the initial wow when they arrive, kids just want to have fun so keep decor simple but effective.  Choose a theme and reflect that theme in your tableware, banners, and balloons. Party hats and masks enhance your theme and provide both fun and great photo opportunities! Balloons are a really simple and cost-effective way of adding colour and creating a wow factor.  You can do them yourself (invest in a good hand pump to save your breath!) or work with your local party shop.  They should be able to suggest designs, work within your budget, and set up on the day, giving you one less thing to worry about. 

Entertainment

If you’ve organised entertainment, a magician, bouncy castle or disco, for example, make that the focus but it’s also a good idea to provide a few other activities for those children who may not be comfortable getting involved. A table with colouring books, jigsaws, or crafting works well. 

Music 

Make a playlist of your child’s favourite songs and be sure to have some saved for games like pass the parcel and musical statues! Don’t forget something to play the music on, Bluetooth speakers are perfect for connecting to your phone.

Photos 

Nominate someone to take pictures of special moments like the party games, blowing the candles out, etc. as you’ll probably be busy at this point and it would be nice for you to be in those photos too.  

Party bags 

We suggest using a smaller pre-cut cake or cupcakes to save time. Your celebration cake can then be enjoyed with family after the party! We like to try to avoid unnecessary plastic contents in party bags; seeds, colouring pencils, and pads, craft items, and books can all make good alternatives.

Presents 

When it’s time to open the presents, try to make a list of who gifted what so you can personalise your Thank You cards.

Parties are timeless 

Trends come and go but some things are timeless.  Remember what you enjoyed at parties when you were young and replicate them. Pass the parcel and musical statues are still enjoyed by children today, as are the cheese and pineapple hedgehog and jelly and ice cream!

Most importantly

Have fun making some great memories!

If you’re holding your party at an activity venue keep your eyes peeled for our next post!