Hints Tips and Advice for Organising a Stress-Free Birthday Party by Imogen Brade: Events and Venue Manager

So each year it happens, the big moment in a parents calendar. Your childs’ birthday party. Year upon year there are tears, tantrums, upset over party bags and the argument over who the pass the parcel should have landed on. And that’s just from the parents. The constant pressure to top each of your childs’ friends party and throw a bash that is going to be gossiped about on the monkey swings for weeks!

After spending hours the night before trying to sculpt your basic bakery skills into the perfect princess cake and spending far too long battling the sellotape, the process is a tiring and stressful one. And not to mention testing of your patience with a number of screaming children on the biggest sugar-high of their week.

At the end of the day planning your child’s party should be relatively stress free – they should technically be quite easy to please (although my childhood strops may not support that). The key is always knowing what you need to do and giving yourself enough time to do it.

I have put together for you a simple checklist which will hopefully aid your way through the stormy seas of planning the birthday party!

THEME IT: The easiest way to excite children is putting in a simple theme, but don’t stress over this. Sometimes simple is better. For example my favourite childhood  party was a flower fairy theme, yes there is nothing more cliché but who cares! Ideally do something which can involve some fancy dress. Nothing is more fun than dressing up!

INVITES: Once you’ve got your theme it’s time to get the information down on paper. Make sure it includes: your address, phone number, date, start and finish times of the party. These seem obvious, but they can be so easy to forget. Also if you go for fancy dress make sure it is obvious on the invitation.

DECORATIONS: Make sure you have some. A party isn’t a party without some decorations! Even if it is just some balloons, a birthday banner and a pile of party bags in the corner, you’ve got to make the effort to dress up the space slightly.

FOOD: I think the key to this is to make sure they don’t have a sugar overload. Yes you will need some yummy treats to keep their mouths full but this doesn’t mean you need to only give them junk food. There are lots of options but suggestions such as vegetable crisp replacements, carrots and hummus always put a smile on the face and strawberries are a sweet treat without the E numbers involved. Even homemade pizza is a healthy alternative, cut these into small circles using a cookie cutter and you have yourself a pizza canapé. These can also be prepared the night before and cooked on the day.

CAKE: Don’t spend hours crying over the recipes and baking trays, if you make it yourself your child is going to appreciate it whatever. However if you really don’t want to make it, don’t. There are so many fantastic cake stores and beautiful bakeries now that getting a cake in is so easy. Just make sure you book it in early.

GAMES: The easiest way to knacker them out is to organise a series of games…this also keeps them busy and out of trouble! Think old school with the games, the classics are still popular and involve very little equipment. If you’re stuck for ideas go for the originals such as Simon Says, pass the parcel, stuck in the mud, musical chairs and pass the balloon. If you’ve got more time maybe look into organising a treasure hunt or potentially get crafty and make a homemade piñata, that is if you are ready to brave the PVC!

GOODY BAGS: These can be made up a couple of days in advance, the earlier you get this done the easier it makes your life. Also work out whether you want to separate boy and girl bags or do a mixed bunch.

THANK YOU'S: Lastly if you are planning on having the presents opened in front of everyone maybe make sure your child is practised in their ‘thank you poker face’. We want to avoid tears at all costs!

Good luck to you all and remember, if it all seems to go wrong it has gone a lot worse for another poor parent!