Gone are those days when planning a birthday party meant buying a cake and taking your child and his squad to a Pizza Hut or a McDonalds where, dizzy with sugar, they run, scream and generally have a great time.
As with all things, the children's birthday party has evolved with time to become a grand ceremony.
Now, everything has a theme, which means matching invites, décor, cake, food, clothes and party bags. It can be a bit like planning a mini-wedding. Parents don’t seem to mind much, it is a great way for them to show how much they love their child, seeking the most for their given resources, and occasionally going over budget sometimes.
There are (often time-poor) parents that are eager to hand over the tedious work of planning a grand birthday party to a seasoned event planner or a specialised venue that will look after each and every small detail. And there are also the brave parents who dare to plan it all by themselves. We've assembled a few tips for these party pioneers, on how to plan the perfect birthday bash.
Remember to be realistic about the budget
It is easy to go overboard when planning your little one's birthday party. Clowns, face painting, 3-tier cakes, petting zoos to sky-writing, it can all add up to massive bill. Keep a budget in mind and try to stick within that.
Decide on a theme
The theme of the party could be based around a character or movie that your child adores, such as their favourite cartoon or superhero. This makes planning for other things including invites, cake, and choosing a venue much easier. It is always advisable to involve your child here as they know exactly what they want.
Decide on date
Picking a weekend can be a good option because people will often have a day off from work and school. Choose a date in advance so people will be able to mark their calendars.
Decide on a venue
One of the best venues to choose is your own house, a community garden or a beach area. If you have room in your budget you can choose to hire bigger party halls at hotels and restaurants.
Guest list and invitations
Putting together a guest list is important as it ensures a smooth invitation and rsvp process. It also saves you from the embarrassment of forgetting to invite a close friend. Facebook groups can help here.
Cake and food & beverage
While the focal point is usually the cake it is important to decide on snacks, drinks and a meal (if required). It is better to limit the food to something simple and light as children tend to run around during parties. Also make sure to account for the parents or nannies that are likely to accompany the children.
Length of the party
For children under the age of five, a shorter party of one hour is advisable as they are more likely to get distracted or tired. For children between 5 and 10, party duration averages are around two and a half hours.
Games and other activities
It’s especially important to have activities for kids to keep them entertained during the party. It can include having a clown, magician, or face painters and planning a few games such as musical chair, pin-the-tail-on-the-monkey, a scavenger hunt or paper boat race, to keep children entertained.
Make sure the kids don’t leave the party without a goodie bag. They don’t have to be a super big gift. You can fill a bag with candy, cake, a pencil box, stationary items, caps or chocolates.
Decoding the timeline for party preparation, Party Centre suggests that parents should start to plan party three to four weeks in advance. They should start with selecting the party venue, preparing a guest list, deciding on a theme, party date and time and purchasing party supplies. Two to three weeks before the party, parents should start sending out invites, plan the food and beverage menu, order cake and plan entertainment activities. Two to three days prior, they should start to purchase food and drinks, check the camera and batteries, updating guest list on the basis of RSVPs, plan the party music and buy party décor stuff.
One day before pick up the cake and matching candles, childproof the party venue, refrigerate drinks that need to be chilled overnight. On the day of the party, display food, drinks, appetisers and other party snacks at least one to two hours before guests arrive.
Let the party begin!
Top Five Venues Around Town
Parents and kids can choose from six party themes which include Spectac-U-Lar, Raz-Ma-Tazz, Rockstar, Superhero, Pirate and Princess. Party duration is two hours and cost per child includes private party room, access to playhouse and clubhouse, dedicated party host, two games, kids’ meals and beverages, party mascot as per theme, decoration, balloons for children and Invitation cards. Theme based activities vary from package to package. Package cost for birthday parties on weekdays varies between Dhs 95 and Dhs 200 and for weekend it varies between Dhs 115 and Dhs 225. Call 04-3850875.
The central part of the birthday party here is the obstacle course between the trees, including ziplines, bridges, balancing trunks, ropes and all things thrilling. Birthday package includes a dedicated host, party hall for four hours, adventura activities, decorations, dishware, return gift (water bottle, eco-friendly bag and climbing gloves), pizza, juice, water a discount voucher for all guests. Minimum 10 guests are required for booking and packages start from Dhs 185 per person. Call 052-1787616.
Splash N Party Kids Waterpark
It is a great venue to host a birthday party for kids where they can have a lot of fun at splash pad area, pools, water slides and bouncy castles. Party duration is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Children spend the first hour playing in the water and enjoy entertainment shows such as jugglers, dancers and singers. In the last 45 minutes, kids are called out to change clothes followed by cake cutting and serving the food. The package also includes invitation cards and souvenir photo for all children. Parents and kids can choose from six themes which include Under the Sea, Princess, Mermaid, Superhero, Jungle and Beach. Weekday price is Dhs 99 per child with a minimum of 10 kids and Dhs 120 per child for weekend party with a minimum of 15 kids. Call 04-3883008.
From rides to games, bowling and a soft play park for younger ages, little ones will have lots of fun options here. The package starts at Dhs 200 per child for minimum 15 children. It includes invitation cards, music, bowling, theme decorations, magician, piñata sweets, goodie bags, group photo, tea and coffee for adults, one hour bonus rides, kids meal and more. www.magicplanetmena.com
Fabyland is a fun indoor family entertainment venue to host a birthday party where children have lots of fun playing with swings, bumper cars, clip n climb, rides, video stations and the soft play area. They offer three types of birthday plans VIP, Unlimited Fun and Extreme Fun. The package starts at Dhs 95 for minimum 15 children and includes unlimited access to rides, magic show, host, mascot, popcorns, meals and more. Call 04-2881490.