As you know before having my own children I was a Nanny for over 14 years, this was a job I absolutely loved and there wasn’t a day I would wake up thinking I didn’t want to go to work.
My job was so varied and I could plan days out and activities as I pleased, I was jointly involved in all of the elements of the children’s lives and that meant birthday parties too.
While I didn’t have to organise all of the party details such as booking the hall or the entertainer, I did help with lots of the prep and then helping out when the big day arrived and. I would help with cooking the food and help keeping the kids occupied – sometimes that would be just playing with those who didn’t want to join in and other times it could be running the craft tables and cake decorating, one thing I learnt early on was that they were hard work!
When I had my own children I really couldn’t wait to be the one who solely organised the festivities from the booking of the hall to making their cakes myself.
I have to admit, this was short lived – after the second or third cake making session of being up at midnight still rolling icing and trying my best to make it look anywhere near as good on the plate as it did in my head.
That was before the hours of making sandwiches and getting all the food ready, setting up the hall, laying out the party bags and keeping everyone entertained, fed and generally happy.
Kids parties, no matter how simple are HARD WORK and as the parent you rarely get time to actually enjoy them yourself, or to stop to chat.
Today I thought I would share my top tips for taking the stress out of kids parties with you, drawing on my experience as a nanny and a parent
7 top tips for taking the stress out of kids parties
- Book a Hall
This may not of course be the cheapest option but do you really want 20+ children in your house? Probably not unless you have a HUGE home and then there is always the risk of spills and breakages.
Some halls offer cheaper packages, for example, the local scout hall I use can only be hired all day on a Saturday for £150 but can be booked for 3 hours (or more) on Sundays for £20 an hour. Other options to explore are school halls or pub function rooms which may not be used during the daytimes over the weekend.
- Book an entertainer
For young children’s parties a few basic party games are easy to plan and to run yourself, pass the parcel, musical statues, musical bumps etc. However as the children get older they want that little bit more, and they are harder to keep amused – this is when I call in the professionals to help. There are lots of options available from hiring a magician to entertain the guests, having a disco party all the way to having their favourite characters turn up to run the entertainment.
Getting the professionals in means that the kids will be amused and it leaves your hands free to set up the food and take some photos.
- Keep the cake simple or buy one
Unless you are amazing in the kitchen and have some hidden skills to show off, cake decorating can be stressful and hard work.
Supermarkets have some wonderful character cakes or even plain ones/chocolate ones or use your local Facebook pages to source a local cake maker if you really don’t want to be up at midnight before the party adding the finishing touches – I’ve been there and done that and NEVER again!
- Remember there is only 30 minutes for food
Generally with kids party, they will be broken up with food half way through the party. This is a general break of a maximum of 30 minutes.
With this in mind, that does also include toilet breaks to wash hands and they really don’t have long to eat so keep it simple.
Do you need to waste time pouring crisps into bowls for the children to pass around and fight over? Why not just put on a table for them to grab the bag they want. Make a few sandwiches, cold mini sausages, sausage rolls and some token salad/fruit snacks.
What I find is the quickest is to have all the food on one table and the kids help themselves then go to sit down, others prefer to seat the children down first then pass around the food
- Keep party bags simple
Everyone loves a goodie bag but they don’t have to be huge or filled with tat either.
You could even keep them on theme – for example when Emmy had a magic party instead of goodie bags I gave all the children a magic wand to take home along with a balloon and some cake, and when Harry had a pirate party the children took home treasure chests filled with golden chocolate coins and a few pirate items.
- Accept all help offered
It’s easy to think you are a super-parent and don’t need any help but you’ll be able to enjoy the day so much more if you allow others to help.
Setting up the hall can be stressful as you only have a certain amount of time before your guests arrive, and you’ll always have some arriving early!
Let someone help you get the food out of the car and to arrange the tables with you or for you.
Allow a family member/friend to sort drinks for your guests – my parents always kindly take on this role and set themselves up in the kitchen of the hall pouring drinks for the kids and adults.
This also goes for tidying up after the party – many hands make light work.
- Get someone else to take some photos for you
You can’t enjoy the party if you are stuck behind a camera and you also won’t be in any of the shots if you take them all.
Pass over your phone or camera to someone you trust and let them snap away – remember to get them to switch to video to capture some of the action too
You can click on this badge to read more Top Tips from a Former Nanny posts in this series
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