The best way to run a kid’s birthday party with the least stress possible is to have a good range of activities to keep the little ones (or not so little ones) busy. Arranging games and fun stuff to do is the key to keeping the party going and making sure that you’re not surrounded by a room full of bored and screaming kids. Depending on the age group that you’re catering for, there are some kinds of activities that are going to work better than others will.
Ages Zero to Three
If you’re brave enough to run a party for the smallest kids, then your event is going to be a little more for the parents than the kids themselves. Children of this age don’t respond well to activities with rules, so free playing is more likely to be successful. Having play mats with toys available, as well as something like a coloring table or a table with very simple handicrafts, like cardboard sewing squares, will all work well; just let the little ones choose what they want to do, and don’t try too hard to organize them.
Ages Three to Five
Once kids are mobile and talking, you’re going to have a few more options. Simple, traditional birthday games work well with this age group. Simon says and body movement games work better than pass the parcel or Musical Chairs. A great body movement game, is when the children need to stop when the music stops and start when it plays; anyone caught still moving is out until there is only one child left. Don’t try anything too complicated or with too many rules, but ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf?’ or Grandmother’s Footsteps can work well. If outside is an option, easy competitive games like running races or sack races are popular choices too.
Ages Five to Eight
Now that the kids are school age, you have a wide variety of great games that you can play. Go for things that are not only a little more complicated, but that also involve a little independent thinking. Treasure hunts or scavenger hunts work well here, as do things like group puzzles and team games, even simple charades or Pictionary can work. This age group is also very hands on so making art tables, model making, painting and creative activities a big hit. You’re also at peak “theme party” age, as kids discover what really interests them. Try to tailor your activity choices to whatever the theme is, whether it’s football, pirates or princesses. Don’t feel that you have to abandon the traditional games either, but remember that the older kids get, the rougher games like Musical Chairs are going to become.
Ages Eight to Twelve
This is really the tail end of your child’s birthday party years, since kids older than this tend to want to have a few close friends over rather than a big organised party. With this age group, you can start giving them more responsibility. Most kids in this age will respond well to a pizza and movie party at your local cinema. Traditional games don’t cut it today, so you’re going to need to get creative. Team games can still work quite well.
If you’re staying at home, ‘The Mummy’ and even ‘Blind man’s Bluff’ is a popular one with both boys and girls of this age. Everyone knows how to play blind man’s bluff and ‘The Mummy’ is where two teams wrap up one of their members in bandages or whatever material you choose until they’re completely covered, with the prize going to the team that finishes first. This is also the prime age for event parties, so think about moving a party from your home to a local football club/sports and leisure centre or laser tag arena for optimal fun (and lots less stress).
Sharon Keeping is a mother to three who spent five years working as an au pair in the United States. On return to England, she settled down with her new husband and started her own family. She currently spends her spare time creating part bags for www.birthdaycreations.co.uk.