I must admit that it does require a certain amount of bravery…. to invite a dozen or more little people over to your house for a birthday party honoring your child, and for you to take on the task of providing all of the party entertainment. You need a game plan, certainly, but you also need the ability to step back as the party is unfolding, and to know when an activity is going along really well so you should “stretch it” and make the magic last…. versus when to move on quickly so as to keep the party guests engaged and happy!
Before I show with you some of the parties we’ve done, I want to share a few tips that I have learned along the way:
- Plan a realistic length of time for your party….. about one hour of “entertainment” followed by thirty minutes of food and cake is plenty of time. I think it is better for the time to “fly by” for all of the party guests than for you to feel like you’ve just lived through the longest two and half-hours of your life!
- Plan your party activities and estimate how long you think each activity will take. An example might be: opening activity (10 minutes), craft (15 minutes), party game (10 minutes), story (10 minutes), lunch (15 minutes), cake (10 minutes), donut on string game (10 minutes) final treasure hunt (10 minutes). And then plan one or two back up activities in case the kids breeze through an activity much faster than you anticipated, or something you planned doesn’t go over well. And even with those back-ups in place, be prepared with one or two more silly games you can use in a pinch (Simon Sez and Freeze Dancing are my two favorites). The purpose of having all of these back-ups is to give you peace of mind….. so panic doesn’t set in for YOU when things don’t go quite as you had planned!
- Know how to get the party goers attention when chaos has set in, and they are all running around and screaming. I was rather flabbergasted by this situation the first time I invited my son’s entire kindergarten class to our home for a birthday party…… the kids were wild….. and the louder I raised my voice to get their attention, the louder they became. I realized quickly that by yelling I was just ramping up the “crazy factor”….. so I took a tip that I had seen work well for the teachers at our elementary school. You clap your hands (as loudly as possible) in a 1…2….1-2-3… rhythm. And the kids will stop what they are doing, echo back the clapping rhythm and (pretty much) give you their attention. Take the opportunity to quickly redirect them to the next activity!
- Have weather-related back-up plans- If you are planning a party that needs to take place outdoors (for which there is no indoor substitute) such as a Baseball Party, then you need to plan a “rain date” for your party. And don’t worry…. having a rain date for your outdoor party provides the same type of insurance that carrying an umbrella in your purse does…. it never actually rains when you’ve planned for it!
So without further ado….. here are some of our home parties!