Guest Blog: Parties at Home - Success or Nightmare?

Top Tips for Parties at Home
by Joanne McGowan of Act One Parties
As the Winter months start to draw in indoor parties fast become the norm. Parties at home can be great fun, providing familiar and comforting surroundings for your child and their friends, you can choose exactly the time you want the party and you will instantly know where to lay your hands on all the essential utensils and items needed for a child's birthday party. You can also take as much time as you like decorating your home which may not be possible at a hired venue. Here are my top tips for holding a child's birthday party at home.
How many?
To begin with work out how many children you are likely to have attending the party. Most indoor house parties I have entertained at have no more than fifteen children present (unless you have a very large house). Also consider the age of the children and whether their parents are likely to stay as this can quite easily double the amount of people in your house
Out of Bounds
First of all decide on which rooms you will be using for the party and then make sure any rooms you don't want the children to go into are shut off. The same goes for toys – only have out the ones you are happy for all the children to play with and any that you are not make sure they are put away and out of reach.
Clear the decks
If you are planning any sort of party games or dancing then it is important that you allow enough space for this. Maybe allocate one room for this and move back any furniture and clear away any breakables or treasured items.
Food Glorious Food
The thing that stresses most parents out about a child's party at home is the mess that can be potentially created from food and drink. To save on this worry have one set area for food, either round a table or picnic style with large picnic rugs or tablecloths covering the floor. Kids love indoor picnics! I also recommend drinks in cartons to avoid the inevitable spillages that cup drinks provide.
Leave food as late as you can into the party, at least an hour in. Once the children have eaten, particularly if they are having lots of party treats, I find their concentration for games has lessened but their energy levels have increased. It is better then for them to have a short period of more unstructured or more familiar games like pass the parcel, musical statues or general dancing after food which will burn off that energy.
Too Much is Not Enough
When I plan a two-hour party for children I always have at least ten activities or games planned. That may sound like a lot but children, especially young children, can get bored very quickly and it is better to move on from an activity while they are still enjoying playing it then waiting for the children to tire of it and start to stray away. If the thought of planning that many activities fills you with horror then do consider hiring an entertainer as they will be very used to spotting when to change activities and most will be able to adapt their games to fit inside your front room.
Preparation is key
Get as much prepared before the party starts so that you can enjoy the party too. If you have parents staying maybe set up a table with drinks they can pour for themselves so that you are not stuck in the kitchen making drinks but instead able to enjoy the fun with your child on their big day.
Photograph: Kerry J Photography
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