CONSUMER BLOG
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 06-09-2017

While the exact origin of birthday celebrations is unclear, historians tell us that they have been celebrated as far back as Ancient Egypt. We know it was Ancient Greece that started the practice of putting candles in the cake, and it is thought that Ancient Rome was the first civilization to celebrate birthdays throughout all classes, not just for noble or religious figures.

But the most important thing to take from this history lesson is that birthday parties have been held for thousands of years. So, if you want your child’s party to stand out, you’re going to have to get creative.

We’ve broken down the modern birthday party in to five key subjects: The food & drink, the entertainment, the venue, the guest list, and the cake. Our research indicates that the most important decisions you will make when planning a kids’ birthday party are related to these topics. If you’re going to get creative, they are the best place to start.
 
1. Victuals are a Blank Canvas

The food and drink you serve is very important.
The food and drink you serve is very important.
Food and drink are an important aspect of every event, but especially so at a kids’ birthday party, as the guests are far less subtle about anything that disappoints them. The good news is, the nutritional value of the food and drink is unlikely to be scrutinized too deeply, which can be liberating when trying to decide what to serve.

There are hundreds of great recipes for kid’s party food online, but don’t be afraid to get creative. What you serve (and how you serve it) is a fantastic opportunity to evoke the theme of your party. While costumes and decorations are great for establishing the mood, food and drink can bring your theme to life. Kids have vivid imaginations, which means when you go the extra step to give your party some thematic depth, they will respond with enthusiasm.

Even hot dogs can be decorated to be more fun.
Even hot dogs can be decorated to be more fun. 
Of course, don’t forget that your guests are also likely to be picky eaters. Try assembling familiar foods in a creative way, rather than introducing a new cuisine to their palate. Finger food is also recommended – a birthday party is not the time to teach kids how to hold cutlery –  and be sure to check with your guests’ parents if they have any allergies ahead of time, and accommodate accordingly. A child going in to anaphylactic shock is likely to bring down the mood. 

You could also hire a professional caterer to help – there are even companies that specialize in creating and presenting food that is perfect for kids’ parties. For example, 5 Alarm Pizza Company in Westchester County, New York, serves woodfired pizza from the back of a real, decommissioned fire-truck.

Ultimately, kids always respond well to creativity, so anything you can do to make your food and drink more exciting will help make your party a hit.
 
Alternative Entertainment

Face painting is a popular form of entertainment at kids parties.
Face painting is a popular form of entertainment at kids parties.

Clowns and magicians have been staples of kid’s party entertainment for so long for a reason: (most) kids love them. But they are no longer the only options when it comes to birthday entertainment, and if you want your party to stand out, you may need to explore some alternative options.

Balloon artists and face painters have also been around for a while, but have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. A henna tattoo artist is also a popular choice, albeit a controversial one. But the entertainment doesn’t have to be a performer or artist. Kids also love bounce houses, and there are some unique and creative designs you can lease. However, they also present a greater risk of injury and require a large area to stand in. Conversely, a game truck provides a small, safe space for your guests to play video games together. 

Kids playing a game of Tug-of-War
Kids playing a game of Tug-of-War. 
If the party is small or you’re feeling confident, you could also organize the entertainment yourself. Treasure hunts, arts and crafts, decorating food, and other party games can be cost-effective and just as fun for your guests. Be careful not to overstretch your abilities, though. As the host, you’ll already have a million things to think about on the day of the party. Kids respond well to structure, so if you have a timed-out plan, the party will go much more smoothly.

How you entertain your guests will also have a lot to do with the venue of your party, which leads us to…  
 
Location, Location, Location!

The inside of your home can be transformed in to a greaty party venue.
The inside of your home can be transformed in to a greaty party venue.
Where are you planning on having the party? So many aspects of the celebration will hinge on where you decide to hold the event, that it is probably the first decision you should make.

Your home or yard may seem like the cost-effective choice, but don’t forget to consider how much time you will have to clean before and after, or additional costs it may incur such as renting extra furniture. Professional kids party venues (e.g. sports centers, bowling alleys, laser tag etc.) can be expensive, but they usually include everything from the food to the entertainment, which will make the event a lot more stress-free for you. Of course, using a professional venue also means there’s not much room for customization; it’s hard to host a memorable celebration if it’s a carbon copy of the last party your guests attended.

If you don’t want to host the party at home or pay for a professional venue, don’t fret; there are plenty of other options. A public park, beach, campground, or even a church hall can also provide a great setting for your party.
 
The Guest List

A group of kids playing together outside
A group of kids playing together outside 
The guest list may seem less vital in comparison to the above three subjects, but it should not be underestimated. Knowing your guests is important if you are planning on hosting a memorable event.

Determining the guest list to a children’s party is also a delicate responsibility, and can often be a source of angst for both the kids and the parents. Some schools in the UK (and reportedly in the US as well) have even introduced policies that require students to invite everyone in their class to their birthday celebration to curb feelings of exclusion.

Even if your school does not have such a policy, you may consider this the easiest option. However, if you weren’t planning on hosting a party for 20+ children, tread carefully when distributing invitations. And it’s not just the small guests you have to worry about - family members can be just as easily offended by the lack of an invitation.

One solution is to hold two, separate events; one for family, and one for your child and their friends. Celebrating with family could be as simple as a small get together or dinner, which will make it easier to focus on the kids for the kid’s party.

Whichever way you choose to handle it, remember that your child will be watching. In fact, planning a party and the guest list provides an opportunity for you to teach them some valuable lessons about inclusion and being considerate of others. If you make it clear that your number one priority is avoiding hurt feelings, it’s hard to go wrong.   
 
Having Your Cake and Eating it Too

The birthday cake can be easily customized to fit your theme.
The birthday cake can be easily customized to fit your theme.
While technically the cake is part of the food and drink you will be serving, it really deserves its own section. It’s very important. When you think of a birthday party, the cake is the first thing that pops in to your head.

Just like the other food and drink you serve, the cake can be customized to embody your theme. Don’t worry if you don’t have a theme; customize the cake to the interests of the birthday boy or girl. This is their party, after all, and the cake is terrific way to remind everyone why you’re celebrating.

If you’re not confident in your baking skills, ask a friend or family member who is to help you out. Almost everyone knows someone who loves baking. You could also hire a professional; it may be expensive, but it’s also likely to be visually impressive and delicious.

If none of your guests have a dairy allergy, an ice cream cake can be more exciting than a traditional flour cake, although it requires freezer space and is harder to modify. Another alternative is cupcakes, which make it easier to offer a variety of flavors and ensure you have enough for everyone.

However you decide to handle the big five above, your biggest asset when planning a birthday party for kids is your imagination.  When in doubt, choose the most creative option and hope for the best. 

Not sure where to start planning your party? Try using EZBZ - the free concierge service. Our team of local business experts make party planning a piece of cake. We will help you find and compare reputable party vendors in your area.  Just call us on 1-855-461-8619, or post a request for what you need through the EZBZ app, and we’ll help you find what you need! It’s free, quick, and easy.

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