Yesteryear birthday parties were simple affairs where you called a few friends home, children played simple games, were given some cake, sandwiches and chips to eat and were then sent home full and happy, with a pencil box or a couple of balloons as return gifts. Not anymore! Nowadays, birthday parties are events, and until your child is old enough to go out and celebrate her birthday on her own with her friends, you may need to plan for a party that is exciting, creative and different, and involves as much preparation as a mini-wedding would, at least! Sitting down to plan a party within a budget is a daunting affair, with a variety of aspects to cover and a number of details to take care of. Here is a checklist that should make your task a little easier. Remember that there is no hard and fast rule and no easy way to make it happen. The type of party you want to have depends on the temperament of your child, her interests, and not in the least, your budget!
Step 1: Decide on the venue: Home or at an outdoor location? This depends on the number of children you can accommodate at home, the age of your child, proximity to invitees, the kind of activities you are planning to have and whether these can be arranged at home. For instance, a jumping castle cannot easily be set up in your living room– you will need a garden or a banquet hall. One of the deciding factors for the venue is your budget – smaller budgets indicate that you should host your party at home. Also, if you opt for an outdoor location, consider the weather for the time of the year. Most location party event places supply all the things you need for a birthday party but remember to bring along your return gifts, camera, smaller gifts for games, and cake!
Involve your child as much as possible in planning her party– you will be surprised at the creative ideas that she can contribute and at what she really considers ‘fun’.
Step 2: To use a party organiser or not: Party organisers take over the entire planning, starting from invitations to organising each minute of the actual party, including games, organised entertainment, activities, etc. They also decorate, provide DJs and music and can suggest and organise for the different people you need, like jugglers, tattoo artists and magicians. All you need to do is book the venue (some party organisers also have tie-ups with locations) and then be the gracious hostess on the day of your party! Party organisers can also recommend caterers. Organisers offer different price packages depending on what you need, but a basic minimum will cost you around Rs. 7000, which probably includes decorations,a DJ and a tattoo artist. For around Rs. 10,000, they may also arrange for a show. Transportation for artists and staff is charged separately. Of course, if you are artistic and think you can manage it, arm yourself with the requisite materials and become a tattoo artist or puppeteer yourself! Step 3: Draw up a guest list: This is a tough one –and sensitive to boot! Whom are you going to invite? A number of combinations are possible, all dependent on your budget and the space available – only children, children+ parents, children + maids (for very young kids), children + maids + parents, etc. The invitations have to be sent out well in advance – these can be designed especially for the party (in keeping with the theme, if necessary), or ready-made invites can be bought at any party shop. If the birthday child has an older sibling, involve him by getting him to design the invitation cards on his computer. Or if the number of invitees is few, your child can create hand-made invites for that personal touch. Don’t forget to follow up invitations with a personal phone call to the parents. Invitations should carry the following information: reason for the party (age of the child), date, start and end time, location, and a phone number to RSVP. Step 4:Decide on a theme: It’s fun to have a theme for a party – these reflect your child’s interest – (ask your child what theme she wants to have for her party) and will also make games and activities more creative and fun.The theme can be reinforced on the cake, the decorations, through the games and return gifts. Smaller children will also enjoy seeing their favourite life-size characters, such as Minnie Mouse or Chota Bheem walking around in their midst. You can also ask children to come in fancy dress according to the theme. Pretty much any theme can beadapted for any age group and linked to age-appropriate activities.