Stress free birthday party

5 Tips On Organising A Stress Free Birthday Party

I love birthday parties, but I hadn’t realised the difficulty of having children with birthdays almost exactly a month apart! Before the children came home, I hadn’t realised how very stressful organising one birthday party was. Double it and talk about wanting to tear my hair out!  After several months of going back and forth with different ideas (each costing so much more than the previous one!) I realised that I need to find a way to organise a stress free birthday party. Surely it couldn’t be that hard!

Last year was definitely the toughest as it was the first time we were celebrating the children’s birthdays with them. We knew we wanted to make them as memorable as possible, but we were keen not to just throw money at the parties.  So in both cases, I decided to think back to my childhood and try and recreate those type of parties.  I knew they would be different from their friends parties which were mostly soft play or entertainer ones, but at about £200 an hour for an entertainer, I figured I could use the money to do something ourselves.  Both parties were different and both worked really well, so here are my tips for a (mostly) stress free birthday party.

Organising a stress free birthday party

How many party guests?

Depending on the age of the child, for a stress free birthday party try to keep the numbers down.  For Little Miss’s 6th birthday, we just invited the girls in her class, which ended up as 8 girls.  For Little Sir, as he is in Nursery we invited the whole nursery class plus a few other friends, which ended up as 20 children. This may sound like a lot but as they came with their parents we didn’t have to take responsibility for them which made a huge difference.

What about a venue? 

I spent a long time researching different venues, and couldn’t believe how much it was going to cost us. In some cases it was £15 upwards per child which did include entertainment and food but I still think it was hugely expensive.  So for Little Miss we held the party at home which obviously cost us nothing, and for Little Sir we hired Hatfield Park Farm which is basically a DIY party venue – a large open space with a bit of an undercover area if we needed it.  We had also considered holding it in a local forest or common ground which would have worked as well.

Stress free food? 

This was another area I spent quite a lot of time thinking about.  Little Miss had a Princess Party so I spent some time thinking about what themed food I could make.  Eventually though I decided that the girls probably wouldn’t eat all that much and wouldn’t remember the food, so I kept it simple with sandwiches shaped with cookie cutters, fruit kebabs, crisps and drinks. For Little Sir, I knew that we didn’t want food out in the open, so we invested in 20 animal themed cardboard food boxes and filled each one with a sandwich, fruit bag, vegetable bag, crisps and a chocolate biscuit along with a carton of drink. This was so easy to prepare and on the day we just had to hand the boxes out without any fuss.

Surely organising and running games is like herding cats? 

I was a bit concerned about how to get all the children to join in with all of the games – even though I was used to teaching a class of children, this felt very different. So I decided to split the party into 15 minute increments.  I wrote out a schedule for each party and put in when we would eat, when we would do the cake etc, and made sure the first 15 minutes was free play time to get the children settled.  We then concentrated on games from my childhood.  Pass the Parcel, Musical Bumps, Musical Statues, Sleeping Lions (a great one for the end of the party) and a dance competition.  The kids loved all the games and mostly joined in.  For Little Sir’s party I knew that, being 3 and 4 some of the kids wouldn’t want to join in, so we made sure that there were lots of ball, space hoppers and craft ideas to keep them all entertained.

What about the presents?

The current thinking amongst parents is to not open the gifts at the party but to open them later.  For Little Sir’s party this was a great plan as he had lots of great gifts, and the children were far too young to sit for long to watch him open them.  However, for Little Miss I went against convention and she opened her presents at the party.  This was a great move! The girls loved giving their presents to her and watching her open them, and they all then got the chance to play with them together.  No matter which way you go, don’t forget to write down who bought what, so that you can help the children write thankyou cards afterwards.  I’ve found both the children and the parents really appreciate a thank you card and it’s teaching both children a great life skill.

No matter what you decide, or how you run the party, the main thing I’ve realised is that afterwards the children just remember the fun they have had, and the friends who came, not the food they ate or what the games were.  So, when organising a stress free birthday party, remember that really it’s about them seeing their friends and having fun. So if a trip to the park and a picnic will suffice – go ahead and do it! Good luck!

I’d love to know what your top tips are on organising a stress free birthday party. Let me know in the comments!


    1. Good luck!! I was really worried about it but it flew by and went so smootly!! Have lots of fun 🙂

  1. I really struggle because me daughter’s birthday is in December so any outdoor-sy type venues like farms or forest are out of the question. The last couple of years we’ve held it at home, which has been great fun but this year she’s just started being invited to nursery friend’ parties which up the guest list so our house is too small. Currently trying to find somewhere reasonable to hold her party but like you say soft play is so expensive and I actually quite like doing the food. I’m thinking of maybe hiring a hall and setting up different activity stations and having some traditional party games but not sure if I’ll have the energy the week before Christmas! #thelist

    1. I think hiring a hall sounds like a great idea. We looked into hall hirings and found them to be really reasonable – sometimes you can even hire a school hall which works out pretty well. I found that preparing a lunch box for the kids made life so much easier, and then set out a bunch of toys to let them run and play with was great – they basically just wanted to run around with each other :). Good luck 🙂 x

  2. Great post! We’ve only had a family-only first birthday so far, but that stressed me out! Some really useful tips here for when the parties get bigger. Love the lunchbox idea, so easy to transport as well. x #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. I was a bit worried about making up so many lunch boxes but it was so easy and I don’t think I would do it any other way now! X

  3. It can be so expensive can’t it?! Running birthday parties is definitely big business nowadays. I’m a big fan of a church hall, bouncy castle and cake but I have two winter babies so a bouncy castle outside – it’s never going to happen! Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG

  4. I always like to hold our parties in the afternoon – that way I have the morning to decorate, prepare the food etc I have a friend who likes to host her family’s parties in the morning. She likes to have the party done and finished with and the afternoon free to clean up afterwards. There’s no right or wrong time, but the point is to find what will make it as relaxing and easy as possible for you. When selecting a date, it can be a good idea to check with some of the guests to see if they are free on the date you’ve chosen before you actually hand out any invites. That way you avoid any disappointment if your child’s best friend or favorite cousin can’t make it.

  5. Planning your child’s birthday party can be extremely stressful . But it needn’t be. My daughter and son have their birthdays exactly two weeks apart, which means that I need to very organised so that I don’t get stressed at the end of April and beginning of May.

  6. I too feel a little bit stress while arranging a birthday party. These are great tips to get rid of stress. Thanks for sharing the wonderful information.

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