Texas Living

Guide to Kids’ Birthday Parties

By Abi Grise Morgan 9.14.23

There’s nothing like the excitement of a birthday party for a kid. (Friends! Cake! Presents!) Meanwhile, planning a kids’ birthday party can feel like a labor of love for parents — but a few best practices can help parents enjoy the moment, too. Use these tips and tricks to help the party run smoothly and safely.

Streamline Pick Up and Drop Off

It can be tough to keep track of every party guest — especially if your kiddo invites the entire class! Create name tags or wristbands for each child to wear during the party and institute a check-in and check-out system (a clipboard, paper, and pen will do!) Have a column on the sign-in sheet with emergency contact information.

How Long Should the Party Be?

The optimal length of a kid’s birthday party varies depending on their age and the activities planned.

  • Toddlers (1-3): The tiniest of birthday boys and girls likewise have the shortest attention spans. They can also get overwhelmed by all the hubbub. So, keep it short — under 2 hours!
  • Preschoolers (3-5): By this age, kids are more actively playing together and can participate in more structured activities with breaks in between. It’s appropriate to extend the party to 2-3 hours.
  • Elementary School (6-9): By this time, kids have more energyand can enjoy a variety of games and activities for up to 3 or 4 hours.
  • Preteens (10-12): Preteens enjoy more complex games, sports, and outings that take more time, from 3 or 4 hours to full-on sleepovers!

When Should You Open Presents/Bring Out the Cake?

Give partygoers a chance to eat healthier snacks and work up an appetite with an activity before settling down to sing “Happy Birthday.” Serve the cake while your kiddo opens presents to give others something to do while they watch.

Choosing a Party Theme

The best resource for party theme generation is, naturally, your child. Are they obsessed with all things mermaids? All about fire trucks? Know all the words to Moana? Let them be your guide, taking into consideration the limitation of the season, potential weather, and ease of execution.

Goody Bags

It’s good manners to have guests leave with a token of appreciation. While goody bags are traditionally given out at the end of the party, it’s perfectly acceptable to give them out at the beginning — especially if the goodies inside can be used during the party. (For example, sunglasses for a pool party, bubbles for a backyard picnic, puzzles or playdough that can be played with inside.)

It’s never too early to start strategizing Halloween party games!

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