Planning a birthday party
Birthdays can be joyous and stressful. Here are some party guidelines

All birthdays are worth celebrating, but the first few parties of your child’s life are extra special. Let’s face it, though, organising a party can be quite stressful.

Party people

The number of guests you invite to your baby’s first few birthday parties should be restricted. For her first birthday, it is advisable to only invite close family and friends. From her second birthday you can start inviting a couple of friends too. A good rule of thumb is to invite as many friends as your child’s age.

So for her second birthday, invite 2 to 4 friends, and for her third birthday 3 to 5 friends. Don’t get caught up in inviting your child’s entire pre-school class to her party. Rather send cup cakes to school and just invite the 1 or 2 special friends.

Party place

The best venue for a first, second or third birthday party is home or somewhere your baby feels at home – maybe granny’s house. There’s plenty of time for parties at exotic venues, but for now stay close to the comforts of home.

To keep children from wandering around, define the party area with balloons and streamers, and close doors to other rooms.

Party time

It’s a good idea to set a time limit to first birthday parties. An hour or two is more than enough for a happy celebration and short enough to keep any tears and tiredness at bay.

Choose a time of day when your baby is well rested (after her nap time is perfect) to ensure that she’s in a party mood. If you don’t want to serve a whole meal, choose a party time for midmorning
or mid-afternoon when you can serve drinks and snacks only.

Party food

You don’t have to be a domestic goddess to make your child’s birthday special.

Party packs

It’s not necessary to give out elaborate party packs at this age. If you want to give a little party pack, keep it simple. An inexpensive toy or a balloon to take home is probably more fun than a bag of sweets.

Party entertainment

It’s helpful to divide the party into 15 minute increments, with a new activity for each block of time. You can divide an hour-long first birthday party into 15 minutes for arrivals and hellos, 15 minutes for bringing the cake out and singing happy birthday, 15 minutes for opening gifts and 15 minutes of free play.

A typical second birthday party could be a bit longer and you could work in 30 minutes for some form of entertainment, crafts or games.

Stick to games your toddler will know or activities that are fun and not complicated. From her second birthday, your tot might enjoy a jumping castle or ball pit. You could have a finger painting
station, or hire someone to paint the birthday boy or girl and little guests’ faces.

You can easily match this to a theme like painting animal faces. You could also hire a mobile petting zoo to come to your house.

Hiring an entertainer is also an option, but 1 to 3 year olds are a little too young for clowns and such. Instead, get a professional story teller (or even a granny or aunt who’s a good story teller!) or balloon artist.

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