Party Tips for Great Kids' Birthday Parties
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The A2 Magic Guide to Planning
Successful Children's Birthday Parties

Birthday parties are a huge event in a child’s life! A great party will provide your child with the gift of cherished memories for years to come. Jeff Wawrzaszek has delighted thousands of children’s audiences with his  Birthday Party Magic Show. Here, you’ll find a treasury of valuable tips and suggestions that he has gathered over the years to help ensure the success of your child’s special day!

Planning a birthday party can be lots of fun, especially if you get your child involved. There are plenty of things kids can help with. Choosing a theme, making a guest list, putting stickers on invitations, helping to choose party supplies and making the goody bags are just a few suggestions. If your child is 4 or older, getting them involved in the planning and decision making is a great way to make them feel important, build self-esteem and create excitement for the big event.

Below are several steps and considerations for planning your child’s birthday party. Taking a few minutes to read them may not only give you ideas as to how you may get your child more involved in the planning, but will also keep things running smoothly every step of the way.

Setting the Party Date

First things first...consider the possible dates and times, as well as the location and the number of guests you’d like to invite. Once you have a couple of dates in mind, make sure there are no conflicts with family schedules, sports or other commitments. If your child has a best friend or two that just have to be there, check with their parents to see if they would be able to make it. Finally, if you are considering hiring a magician, clown or other children’s entertainer, call for available dates and details first.

Setting the Time

Once you’ve nailed a date down, decide on the time. Birthday parties usually run between 1½ - 3 hours, with most averaging 2 hours in length. Choose a time of day when your child is normally at their best. If you don’t want to provide lunch or dinner, consider a time when cake and ice cream will suffice.

Choosing a Party Location

While the vast majority of birthday parties are held at home, there are other great places to hold a kid’s party. If you have limited space or don’t like the idea of having to clean up after the big event, or if you’re just looking for other activities to do, a remote location may be the answer. Here are some suggestions for great places and activities to consider for your child’s party:

Arcade, Dance Studio, Bowling Alley, Child Care Center, Classroom, Play Arena, Children’s Theater, Community Center, Craft Store, Family or Fast Food Restaurant, Farm, Firehouse, Gym, Miniature Golf, Nature Center, Swimming Pool, Park, Petting Zoo, Pizza Parlor, Playground, Pottery Studio, Recreation Center, Skating Rink.

If you have a monthly community magazine that publishes a calendar of local events, check to see if there are any special activities that you can take advantage of on the day of your child’s party.

Number of Guests

Keep the group to a manageable size. I’ve entertained at thousands of birthday parties, and most tend to include 8-15 kids. If you are inviting the whole class or a larger group, enlist the help of a couple of teens or adults to keep things running smoothly. Below are suggested guidelines for additional help.

3-4 year olds, 1 helper for every 3-4 kids
5-8 year olds, 1 helper for every 5-6 kids
9-12 year olds, 1 helper for every 8 kids

Choosing a Party Theme

If your child is 4 or over, let them help you choose a party theme. Limiting ideas to a single theme helps put the focus on many other aspects of the party as well. Consider their interests: What do they love? Who are their favorite characters or heroes? What games do they like? What kind of party do they want to have? A trip to your local party or dollar store will give you plenty of ideas of what is available in the way of invitations, decorations and table supplies.

Planning the Party

Once the invitations have been mailed or delivered, it’s time to plan the party. “The A2 Magic Checklist for Planning Successful Children’s Birthday Parties” is a handy page that will help you keep track of what needs to be done. A copy of the checklist is included further down on this page.

Ice Breakers, Games and Party Activities

Have some ice breakers ready to get the party started. Kids generally don’t all arrive on time. Usually there is a 10-15 minute frame of time when they’ll be arriving. A craft or an activity that they can easily join in on is a great way to get things going.

Select several party games and activities that are age appropriate and geared to the skill levels of your invited guests. You can find plenty of game ideas online or at your local library. Plan more activities than you think you’ll need. Some may run faster than expected, and others may not be of interest to the kids.

Generally, the best types of games for birthday parties are non-competitive games or games where everybody wins. If you are playing team games, stay away from having captains who choose team members. This may help to eliminate any hurt feelings for the last ones picked. If you are handing out prizes, it’s usually best to have a prize for everyone.

Piñatas

Piñatas can be lots of fun but may be the cause of some potential accidents. Watch just about any episode of America’s Funniest Videos and you’ll see people getting hurt, ceilings crashing down, something getting broken or nobody being able to break open the piñata. If you are using a standard piñata, exercise a little caution.

There are some special piñatas that will eliminate all the above problems. They have several ribbons attached to the bottom. One is attached to a trap door that will open the piñata and let the prizes drop out. Kids take turns pulling ribbons. The ribbon will either be pulled out or, if they’ve selected the correct one, will open the piñata.

If You’ve Booked Entertainment

Good, professional entertainment is always a great highlight to any kid's birthday party. If you’ve hired a magician, clown or some other children’s entertainer, here are some suggestions that will help to guarantee great results:

  • Limit the entertainment to 30-45 minutes. This seems to be the ideal amount of time for most kid’s birthday parties.

  • Scheduling the entertainment for the first half of the party helps to keep the attention focused on the birthday child. Singing Happy Birthday and opening gifts is usually best saved for the last half of the party and after the entertainment.

  • Save the goody bags and balloons for the end of the party. Party blowers and noise makers can become a real distraction for the kids who are trying to enjoy the show.

  • Exercise equipment, musical instruments and lots of toys can be very tempting to the youngest guests. Having the entertainment in an area where there are fewer distractions will help guarantee a great show.

Food

If you are planning to do more than cake and ice cream, it’s best to keep the menu simple. Pizza seems to be the popular choice at most kid’s parties. If you are going to get a little fancier, strawberries and nuts may be best left off the menu, as some kids have allergies to them. It’s always a good idea to ask parents when they RSVP about any food allergies their kids may have. If necessary, you can have an alternative food available for any guests with special needs.

Opening Gifts

For most kids, the highlight of the birthday party is opening gifts. Kids love to open gifts, and their friends love to watch the reaction the birthday child has to the gift they’ve given. Half the fun of giving a gift is knowing that it’s going to be enjoyed by the person who receives it.

Before the party, take a little time to talk with your child about the proper way to say thank you and what to say if they receive duplicate gifts or something they may already have. Make sure you have a teen or another adult helper keeping a record of what your child receives and who gave it. This will come in very handy when it’s time to write thank you notes.

Winding Down

It’s always a good idea to give the kids a chance to settle down before going home. All high-energy games and activities should stop about 10 minutes before the party comes to a close. This is a great time to get the kids together to pass out the goody bags and say thank you for coming.

Goody Bags

Save the goody bags for the end of the party. Not only is it a great way to resign your guests to the idea of going home, it also insures that nobody misplaces their little treasures during the course of the party. Goody bags don’t have to be extravagant. A small favor or gift for each child to take home is a great way to say thank you for coming. You can find great ideas for the goody bags at your local dollar or party store. Make sure you keep everything the same for each child. Customizing gifts may cause disappointment for some.

Handling the Unexpected and Special Touches That Make a Difference

If you’re planning an outside party, have a back-up plan in case of rain.

Have a few extra games and activities in mind in case you need to fill some time.

Have extras of almost everything...favors, balloons, prizes, food and drinks. Sometimes an extra child or two will arrive, or something will break or get lost. It’s always best to be prepared.

Be sure to have a party bag for the birthday child as well.

Kids love to see their names in print. Putting their names on badges, name tags and table cards makes them feel important and helps you keep track of who's who at the party.


The A2 Magic Checklist for Planning
Successful Children's Birthday Parties

Here is a timeline countdown for planning a great children’s birthday party. While the suggested time frames are the ideal, great parties can still be planned by combining and condensing the time frames on the checklist below to fit the amount of time that you have available.

3-4 Weeks Before the Party:

Consider possible dates, times, locations, number of guests and budget.
If you are considering hiring a magician or entertainer call for details and availability first.
If your child has friends that just have to be there, call the parents and check their availability as well.
Set the date and time.
Choose a theme.
Make or buy invitations and thank you notes designed around your theme.
Fill out invitations, including RSVP date and maps, if necessary.

2-3 Weeks Before the Party:

Mail or deliver the invitations.
Plan activities, games and party starters.
Plan your menu.
Make a shopping list of groceries and party supplies.
Pre-order balloon bouquets or any special supplies.
Start making or buying decorations.
Shop for goody bags, prizes, candles, paper and table supplies.

1 Week Before the Party:

Order the cake.
Follow up with guests who have not responded.
Enlist the help of adults or teens to lend a hand on the day of the party.

2-3 Days Before the Party:

Check to make sure you have film and/or videotape ready.
Purchase food, beverages and any other final supplies.


1 Day Before the Party:

Bake or buy the cake.
Prepare any food that can be made ahead of time.
Prepare goody bags (make a couple extras, just in case).
Make extra ice.
Child proof party area.
Prepare and organize games and activities.
Decorate the house.

The Day of the Party:

Pick up balloons.
Mark the party location with balloons or yard signs.
Prepare food that couldn’t be prepared earlier.
Chill extra beverages.
Have Fun!

1 Day to 1 Week After the Party:

Write and send Thank You notes.

Here is a list of supplies that you may need to pick up or gather:

Invitations, stamps, directions to location, thank you notes, napkins, plates, table covers, table skirting, plastic tableware, cups, serving trays or bowls, place cards, name tags, straws, centerpieces, balloons, candles, piñata, yard sign, favors, party hats, favor bags, candy, pencils, stickers, toys, games.

See how A2 Magic can make your child's birthday party amazingly successful, memorable and fun!

Contact Jeff Wawrzaszek to book your Birthday Party Magic Show

Kids birthday parties, tips and ideas for great kids birthday parties from Michigan magician, Jeff Wawrzaszek.

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