Like with any party, planning out every activity, menu item, and detail ensures that you have all that you need come party day and that there are no surprises when the kids start working on the beaded princess hats or if you realize there are no batteries in the game they’re to use.
"Especially with children, be mindful of mealtimes when hosting a party," says Ettiene. Get-togethers scheduled between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., or 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. suggest that a meal will be served.
Along the same lines, if you are hosting a party beyond 7 p.m. for children less than 8 years old, be aware that some children have bed times around this time and may start to get tired. "And make sure that no matter when the party is to begin, it has a clear start and finish time," adds Lockard.
Both Ettiene and Lockard agree, children need supervision, and extra hands will make sure chaos doesn’t ensue when all your guests need help at the same time. "Either invite the parents of some of the other guests or hire an apprentice from their school or another responsible adult (college student) to lend a hand."
A good rule of thumb is that there should be one adult for every eight children older than 6, and one adult for every four children younger than 5 years old.
In general, avoid overscheduling the party by keeping activities to a minimum, advises Ettiene. "Children love free play and will appreciate a break from the activity train that often crowds the enjoyment of the party."
But there is a balance to strike, cautions Lockard. "Remember how short little attention spans are and prepare multiple activities with this in mind." They don’t have to be completely structured. Perhaps a craft activity, then some time outside playing games.
According to Ettiene, children's parties are synonymous with spills, so be mindful of offering too many drinks or foods that will stain your sofa or their clothing.
Instead, offer white or clear party drinks and keep the messy foods limited to the kitchen where spills won't spoil the fun.
If your party venue will only accommodate 15 children, only invite 15 children, says Ettiene. There is nothing more disappointing than having a party where space limits the fun.
Young kids have little or no filter. If they discover the present they are opening is on their must-have list, there is no masking their delight. But if the gift they are unwrapping is that crazy-eyed cat clock that made them cry as a baby, either tears or an angry outburst often ensues.
To avoid any party-day breakdowns, either avoid opening gifts at the party (there is often enough going on), or better yet, Lockard recommends working with your children in advance on how to graciously unwrap gifts.
Most importantly of all, don’t forget to have your children write thank-you notes. It’s very important, and a good habit to start early.