The thought of throwing your child’s birthday party is enough to break out the Xanax for some, but for others, it’s their time to shine. Ideally, you should strive for the latter. For us at Hot Ground Gym®, almost a decade of hosting award-winning birthday parties for kids ages 6+ has taught us a thing or two. We would love to shed some light on a few best practices for planning your child’s next birthday party. There are 8 points to remember when planning a birthday party.
8 Points to Remember:
1. 2-Month Rule
Typically for us, during the busy time of cold winter months, we are booked almost two months in advance. So, our first point to remember is to book a venue at least two months before your desired date. The further out you book, the safer you will be. Start your hunt a few months out to be sure you have as many options as possible.
2. What Does My Child Want to Do?
This could be tricky or not. First, try asking your child what they would like to. Most often they will say they want a theme but not necessarily know what type of venue they want or where. If your child says exactly what he/she wants, and the request can be accommodated, then an easy day for you and skip to number 4. If your child doesn’t really know where they want to go, we suggest doing some research and offering your child a few options of places that can also accommodate any theme your child would like for example (ninja, pokemon, power rangers, so on). If your child doesn’t ask for a theme, we suggest you let sleeping dogs lie and not push for a theme, easier the better ;)
3. The 5 Rules of Venue Selecting
When selecting the perfect venue for the party we suggest you ask yourself these five questions:
- Location. Is the venue reasonably located near the guests you will be inviting?
- What type of experiences does the venue offer for their “party packages”?
- Is the price competitively reasonable for the number of participants you will be inviting? (rough number at this phase)
- Is the party private, semi-private, or not private? This question refers to the actual activity being private, not just a party room after the activity. The more private, the better, in our opinion, especially in the post COVID world we live in.
- Can you visit the venue beforehand? We highly recommend you and your birthday child go visit the potential party place and let them guide your decision to book there or not.
4. Who Do I Invite?
This could be challenging for some. Depending on which community you live you, you may be “expected” to invite your child’s whole school class. We have heard this from parents numerous times over the years. This means, with their classmates from school or out school classes, then some family and friends, you could be around 30 or more guests, that’s something to keep in mind. The more, the merrier, however, nudging your child to narrow the list a little is always good. However, don't count on them wanting to invite fewer people;) We suggest making a list with your child and tracking RSVPs on that list.
5. Invitations and Tracking RSVP’s
Once you have your list, start sending the invitations. There is a couple of ways you can do this now.
Use an app or website that specializes in invitations. You will need your guests' emails and/or phone numbers. This is a high-tech and lower-effort way. An example of this is Paperless Post.
If you would like to do traditional paper and mail/face-to-face delivery, then we suggest using an app or website to help you create your design, then have them mailed to you. Make the invitation general, so you can write all the names on them later. This will make it easier than placing their names on the first and them having to change them. Order extra, just in case ;) A great company for the online generation of invitations is Vista Print.
Once the invitations are sent out, don’t forget to confirm the receipt of any RSVPs from guests and send “follow-up” emails and text messages to those who have not RSVP’d after a week or two.
6. Do I Feed the Kids?
This question is usually a yes. However, sometimes you can avoid having to feed the kids by having the party not during a “usual mealtime”, like 2 pm, or 10 am. Otherwise, count on feeding them. Ask first the venue you selected what the options for food are. Just because they may not offer food, I would bet that they could give you a reference for a great food place nearby. Always be cautious when selecting food to feed your guests, and consider any possible food allergies or intolerances. It might be a good idea to ask the parents of guests about allergies.
7. What Should I Bring?
Start with the essentials:
- Juice/sports drink/soda
- Food/snacks (if desired)
- Cake cutting utensils
Next are plates and napkins, although a lot of venues do provide that. Which is a great point, definitely ask and make sure you know exactly what the party venue provides.
For example, Hot Ground Gym® provides to its birthday party customers:
- Tables cloths
- Paper plates
Finally, goodie bags/party favors. For younger parties (maybe till age 8/9) it might be a good idea to hand out party favors to guests. However, as the children get older, it is less necessary to consider handing out party favors or goodie bags.
8. What Do I Do During the Party?
You’ve done everything right, the guests have arrived, your child is happy, the party has begun. What do you do now? First, take a deep breath and marvel at the awesomeness your child is enjoying. Next, you know you picked a great venue if once the party starts, all you have to do is watch, and chat with friends/family.
Planning a birthday party could be a stressful time, but if you take these 8 points into consideration when you plan your next party you will see it will be a little easier. These points were compiled from lived experience while hosting arguably the best active birthday parties in the northern Chicago suburbs since 2014. Kids Birthday Parties at Hot Ground Gym are 90 minutes of fun led by experienced instructors. Don't hesitate to contact us for additional information!