Destress party planning for your kids

Recently we’ve spent a good chunk of our time reviewing party halls for EncycloKidia’s listings site and I was amazed by the crazy number of options out there. There’s basic party halls, play area party halls, pamper party, host-a-radio-show party, pirate party… Wow! I’m not a mum myself, but found myself wishing that I could throw a kid’s party. I confess though that when we first started the project, I was overwhelmed by the different things parents need to plan. By the time we got through the thousandth party hall though, we had it all organised. So here’s my attempt to de-stress party planning for your kids.

Basic things to consider for a party

When to Start Planning: Its been a few weeks, your kid’s been now constantly talking about her upcoming birthday –  who she is going to invite, what she is going to wear, etc. This is the pre-planning stage; roughly 6-8 weeks before the actual birthday. If it feels too early, it isn’t. Good party halls get booked quickly. Plus if you have a tight budget, you will need the extra time to order decorations, party bags, etc. online.

Small or Big? Estimate early the number of kids you plan to invite. For older kids, check with your kid’s school. Some schools mandate that you invite ALL the kids in your child’s class. Our listings site will let you filter party halls by capacity. So once you have a rough count you can screen out halls that are too small or too big.

Filters on the EncycloKidia listings site

Filters on the EncycloKidia listings site

Budget: The next question you want to ask yourselves is how much money do you want to spend. If the purse strings are tight, parties at home or in community/church halls are easier on the pocket. Summertime parties can be even more low cost if hosted at the local park.

Once you have set a budget, divide it by half. The first half will go towards cake, decorations, entertainer, etc. The second half on the venue. Divide the second half by the number of kids you want to invite and you now have your cost/child. The EncycloKidia listings site also let’s you filter by cost/kid. So you can now screen out halls that are too expensive.

Entertainment: Next you want to think about how you will entertain your little guests. Will daddy be renting a clown costume, are you going to hire an entertainer, or do you want a party venue that provides in-house entertainment (often this costs extra). The listings site has a filter called “Entertainment” if you want a party package that includes entertainment. If you are keen on hiring a separate entertainer, make sure to ask the provider whether they permit it. The individual party hall pages have buttons that will let you directly call or email the provider from whatever device you’re using. Community and church halls usually don’t mind you bringing your own entertainer.

Party Host vs. Entertainer: When a provider claims you will have a dedicated host, make sure you ask what that includes. A party host will usually welcome you and guide your guests to the party room. They may help with setting up food etc. but will not entertain the kids. On EncycloKidia, we have separate filters for entertainer and party host, make sure you select the right one.

Food: This is a big one! You first want to know what the party package includes. Community and church halls will not serve food, but will provide you with a kitchenette that usually has atleast a kettle for tea, a sink, and a counter for setting to the food. A party in the park may mean renting some tables and chairs and no separate preparation areas.

If you want to provide your own food, again chat with the party provider. There may be restrictions. Play areas for example will give you half an hour within which food has to be served and eaten. That doesn’t leave time for doing a lot of fancy stuff. On EncycloKidia, yes you guessed it right, you can also filter by “Food” to screen out venues that do not provide food as part of their party package.

Don’t forget to think about food for your adult guests too. If you’re going to invite a lot of them, check whether the venue provides plates and forks for them too.

Cake: Most venues if they provide a cake, will charge extra. If you are on a tight budget consider making the cake yourself. There are also cake makers that specialise in children’s cakes, but be warned they are expensive! A cake for 30 guests can cost anything between £45 to £200.

Party Favours: Most venues provide party bags that are either included in the package or can be purchased at an extra charge. However, assembling party bags yourself not only gives it a personal touch, but is less expensive. With many activity-based parties such as bear making, cupcake baking, jewellery making etc., kids make their own take-away present and party bags are not required.

Invitations: Most providers let you download free invitations from their website. Some will send you free hard copies. There are also a lot of free party invite apps out there such as evite.com, paperlesspost.com which allow you to invite guests electronically and keep a counter of total attendees as they rsvp. You will need to collect email addresses of all the parents if you opt for this.

Payment: You’ve covered the basics now, so you want to review payment terms. Most providers require a non-refundable deposit, though payment and cancellation terms vary. Check when full payment is due and by when you will need to confirm the guest list. The last bit is important or you will find that you are paying for a lot more guests than you actually bring to the party as some providers charge you for maximum capacity, if they don’t know the party size.

Find party halls near me.

Things you hadn’t thought of but may want to consider for the party

Theme: With the exception of church and community halls, most party halls will offer you themed parties – disco, princess, laser tag… We do list the different party themes that each party venue offers. Talk to your kid and see what appeals to him before you call the providers, so that when they ask, you know what your first two preferences are.

Party themes and contact information are listed on the detailed listing page.

Party themes and contact information are listed on the detailed listing page.

Parent to Child Ratios: Some venues require a minimum parent to child ratio. Check beforehand if you were planning a grownups free party.

Restrictions: Some venues don’t allow knives, decoration, balloons, matchstick, candles, alcohol, and/or piñata and may charge extra for these. If you are keen on serving alcohol, check the “Alcohol Served / Permitted” filter to find facilities that allow it. (Also check with the provider if you need to get your own alcohol licence.) Some facilities may also disallow opening of presents. We find this usually happens at venues that run a tight shift between parties, where they have a set time by which guests have to leave.

Bouncy Castles: There are three types of party halls – the ones that have their own bouncy castle, the ones that don’t but will allow you to rent and bring your own, the ones that don’t and will NOT allow you to bring your own. If your kid is bouncy castle crazy, check. Yes, there is a filter for that too. :)

Handy Checklist

That’s all the tips I can think of. If you can think of something else, leave us a comment. So a final wrap up with a handy checklist of everything we could think of. Use as needed.

Checklist - Kid's Birthday Party

Checklist – Kid’s Birthday Party

Relevant stuff:

Visit the main EncycloKidia Website to find local services for your baby, toddler, or older kids.

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About Shweta

Shweta runs the data team at EncycloKidia so her brain is a massive repository of all kid’s services out there. After some persuasion, we were able to get her to look up from her spreadsheets and share some of her priceless knowledge with us.

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