How much time do you have? To plan and prepare, to decorate, to bake? To party? Time can make or break your celebration. Having too little leaves you unprepared, and rushing around frantically. But too much time can leave kids bored and restless. So how do you figure out the perfect amount of time? Here are a few tips and tricks to assist you:
1 1- Consider the ages of the party guests. Obviously, younger children have shorter attention spans. They move from game to game with lightning speed, while older kids can handle more complicated, lengthy activities. A good rule of thumb is to keep it to one hour or one and a half hours for kids under five, unless their parents will be staying to assist. Even then, two hours is pushing it. Kids 6-10 are good for 2-3 hours, if you’ve got enough fun activities planned to fill the time. Older kids and teens can handle three hours as well and can go longer if given free time to talk and goof off on their own.
2 2- Estimate activity times. Life never goes exactly as we plan it, but parties will flow much more smoothly if you know approximately how long it will take your guests to complete the individual activities you have planned.
3 3- Meals take time. If you’re just doing cake and ice cream, things will go much more quickly than they would if you choose a full meal, plus dessert. And sometimes you’ll need time to prepare last minute food or to clear the table in between dinner and cake. Don’t forget prep and clean up time while you’re planning.
4 4- Be flexible. Have a few games that you can use to fill time if you need, but that you can leave out if things are running behind schedule. Choose an activity to start with that the kids can do while waiting for everyone to arrive; something simple that doesn’t have a lot of rules to explain. It’s also a good idea to have a game or two that you can squeeze in at the end if they are needed. Again, keep it simple and fun, something they can do if some people have left already and they’re waiting for a ride home. For example:
a. Movies – Choose something to match your party theme!
b. Crafts – decorating a bag or party hat is a fun way to begin a party.
c. Games – Ring around the Rosies and Duck, Duck, Goose for little ones and Tag or Red Rover for older kids. Use variations of games they know, changing names or titles to match the theme of your celebration. (Duck, Duck, Goose becomes Fish, Fish, Shark)
d. Free time – Kids really are great at entertaining themselves, just consider how comfortable you are with kids running around your home and how well you can keep an eye on them. You may want to block off certain rooms or areas of the house with crepe paper or a fun paper STOP sign.
5 5- Sleepover parties are in a category all their own! They take extra prep time, extra meals and extra involvement, but of course, they are extra fun. Just follow the tips above and know that there will be more “Free time” than a typical party and you’ll probably need more recovery time too!
Whatever theme you choose, no matter how many kids there are, and now matter the ages of your guests, parties are fun! There’s always a little chaos, (it’s part of the excitement!) but careful planning and flexible activities can ensure everyone has a great time and goes home with wonderful memories of your celebration.