Parents want to make their children’s birthday party a very special day, and ideally, they want to enjoy it as well. There are a few common mistakes, however, that make that less likely to happen. Avoiding these pitfalls will increase the odds of a fabulous birthday celebration everyone will enjoy and remember happily for years to come.
1 Not booking a venue early enough
Do not wait until the last minute, if at all possible. “It’s really never too early,” advises Cassie Coffey, membership and visitor services leader at the DuPage Children’s Museum, which hosts plenty of parties.
“It may seem crazy to plan far in advance, but you always know when your kids’ birthdays are,” she adds, saying that two months out is generally a good time frame to start scheduling with venues.
2 Forgetting to focus on the fun
Kids get overwhelmed pretty easily, and often less is more when it comes to activities at a party. Also, avoid having multiple activities happening at the same time.
“If you’re having a performer come to entertain the kids at your party, don’t forget to put away the bouncy house, toys or other distractions during the time a performer is scheduled to be with the kids. Help to set the scene that fixes their focus for maximum fun!” says Jamie Martin of Miss Jamie’s Farm.
3 Passing up picture perfect moments
Years from now, both you and your kids will want to remember the special day. “Hire a professional photographer if possible, but even if you can’t, put someone with a good eye and a good camera, or a good camera phone, on this duty,” Martin says. And “don’t forget to include yourself in the photos, too!”
4 Serving only sweets
Birthday cake and ice cream are staples at birthday party celebrations. Andrea O’Donnell, RDN, CNSC, LDN, pediatric dietitian nutritionist at Individual and Family Counseling, says that they should be included, but adding even more sweets aren’t needed.
“All the food groups should show up at a party the same way they show up at the dinner table,” she says, noting that serving a variety of foods both pleases all palates and reinforces that healthy foods can have a place at social gatherings.
She points out that with a lot of sugar, kids will crash quickly. “The point of the party is to get kids together to have fun, and they need food that’s going to nourish and sustain them so they can enjoy themselves,” she says.
5 Not asking questions of the venue or vendors
“Be a fully informed customer,” suggests Coffey. “These parties are an investment and not only do you want to have fun, you don’t want to be surprised the day of the party. Ask lots of question and make sure you know exactly how everything will work.”
Coffey adds that venues often have different policies. Some allow outside food, some do not. Some include adults in the package whereas others cover just kids. Asking questions helps clarify what’s included. Don’t feel self-conscious, either. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a stupid question,” Coffey says.
6 Forgetting to ask about allergies
You want all your guests to feel included and that can be tough when a child has an allergy you didn’t know about.
O’Donnell suggests that on the invitation ask parents to “RSVP and share any information about allergies or sensitivities” to make sure that information gets conveyed to the host.
“Kids with food allergies already feel isolated anyway. If we can avoid that at times of celebration, we should,” she explains.
7 Not taking advantage of help
“Delegate!” urges Martin. If friends and family offer to help, take them up on the offer. Venues often offer help.
“Have the vendors do as much as possible for you,” Coffey says, adding that the DuPage Children’s Museum offers catering, party helpers and favors. “You may save both time and money versus doing it yourself.”