My guide to kids’ birthday parties (& a giveaway!)

Image – from here – super cute coffee and biccie in a box – I’d love a party where I got this!

If you’ve been hanging about these parts for a while you’ll know that in my full-time work days I was an Event Manager.  I now lecture future Event Managers which is much more family friendly work than the odd hours Event staff do.

I LOVE parties and I love birthdays too….I especially love kids parties and celebrating my baby’s birthdays is all kinds of awesome….but I have a disclaimer….I love the kind of party that is well organised and pretty but I’m not keen on anything that looks over produced.  I love a good theme and all of Bebito’s parties to date have had one – his first birthday had a Where the Wild things Are, his second, an Oliver Jeffers’ “How to Catch a Star” theme, his third a “racing car” and his fourth (a very small gathering) saw a construction vehicle theme – and I think it works well to have one.  My boys’ birthdays are both coming up and we are having a “construction” mini-party for Bebito and a “hot air balloon” theme for Little Lion’s 1st Birthday and Naming Day (I’ll share more about that in another post).

As an event manager, I have a few tips to share about how to organise a “good” kids party for would be party planners:

– my biggest and best advice to is to know your client. I think this applies to a super swish corporate gig or to a 1st Birthday party. Who is the person you’re trying to impress by having the party? Your small person? Your mother-in-law?  When you know this it’ll guide you as to the type of party and even the time of day.
– My second bit of advice is to focus on a few important details – maybe the cake or the decorations – the thing that is going to appeal to your client the most.  The rest of it isn’t so important.
– Don’t get caught up in trying to make everything perfect.  Good event managers have a bit of a “good enough is close enough” attitude that comes from planning things in advance and letting things fall how they will.
– Don’t think you have to spend a fortune to have a good party. I’ve never yet spent more than a few hundred dollars on everything associated with Bebito’s birthdays gone by.  This is easier when you focus on only a few important things.
– Do as little as possible on the day of the party – if you’re like me, you’ll be worried about how the guests are getting along and making lots of food or doing lots of preparation on the day is an extra stress you don’t need.  For Little Lion’s 1st Birthday I have chosen a menu that means I don’t have to make anything on the day. Also, magazines like Donna Hay have great tips on how to organise a Christmas lunch well in advance too.
– Don’t be scared to enlist the help of your loved ones with catering and ensuring the guests are enjoying themselves.  My Mr is a brilliant mingler as are a couple of our friends so we know we can count on them to get around and make everyone feel welcome.
– Don’t think you’ll make everyone happy! There will ALWAYS be someone with a sourpuss at every gathering – they could be a three year old or indeed, your mother-in-law! As long as your “client” has a good time and you can see smiley faces about you can consider it a success!
– Do something a little bit surprising. For Little Lion’s upcoming 1st Birthday and Naming Day we are getting our guests to fill out this cute little wish list card for him.
– Send thank you cards! I think this is just plain good manners but I may be a bit old fashioned about these things. I prepare these at the same time as I do the invitations.
– Plan something nice for the grown ups too – coffee or wine is a nice touch – it’s not just about the kids after all but don’t make it your biggest focus – remember your audience isn’t the grown ups after all!
– Don’t be scared to umm….”steal” ideas from other sources. Heck, that’s what pinterest is all about isn’t it? 🙂 Which brings me to my giveaway! ….

Thanks to the folks at Pan Macmillan I have three copies of the soon to be released book, “Party!” that is absolutely full to the brim with excellent kids party ideas. The big themes are covered – fairy princess, space, dinosaurs, cars and trucks, craft, cooking, zoo – to mention a few. It includes decoration tips, recipes, costumes, invitations and so, so, so many ideas around each theme which really does make it a comprehensive guide to having a birthday party. Even the most nervous party planner could feel confident using this book as a guide. I think some of the ideas would work equally well for “grown up” parties too!

If you’d like to win a copy all you need to do is comment below telling me what your favourite ever birthday cake was from your childhood…or the best cake you’ve witnessed was.  My Mama made me one of those dolls in a cake thing for my 9th birthday and I thought it was the best thing I ever did see in my entire life even though I was never really a doll kind of girl.

Good luck lovelies!

Amended….& has drawn numbers 2, 11 & 6 which is Kate, Natalie & Gab. Exciting! Lovely Kate can you please send me an email to – Nat & Gsb I’ll be in touch. Congrats and thanks to all who entered! Xxx

The “fineprint”:
– Open from today, Saturday September 1st 2012, through to 6pm Tuesday September 4th 2012
 when I’ll draw the three winners at random
– Sorry, Australian residents only
– If you’d like to tweet about the giveaway please do but leave a comment telling me you have done so
– I’ll need to pass on your details to the folks at Pan Macmillan to have the book sent on to you

26 thoughts on “My guide to kids’ birthday parties (& a giveaway!)

  1. Amanda Fuller

    Cat I would love to win this book! My favourite cake from my childhood is pretty hard to choose as Mum was pretty amazing at whipping up the cakes in the classic Women's Weekly Kid's Cake book, but my fave was the one she designed and created herself of the Disney character Goofy when I was 10. I was Goofy crazy and had a Goofy party and she did an amazing job creating me a Goofy cake!

  2. Kate Burge

    I tried to comment but I don't think it worked! I'm no good at this Internet business!Anyway, I need all the help I can get planning a birthday for Miles so this book looks great to me! My mum made (for my brother, I think) one of those swimming pool cakes with crushed jelly in the middle and chocolate biscuit sticks around the edge like wood cladding. So cool. And I too got a Dolly Varden cake or two in my life. Mums are clever, aren't they?I just looked at Bebito's birthday links and WOW! You're AMAZING! I love your little loot bags. I remember to making those crayons and thinking how clever you are. Happy birthday to your two sweet little guys coming up. Can't wait to see what you do for them!

  3. Emma

    Some excellent tips here! My favourite cake is the duck with potato chip beak from the AWW cake book. It's simultaneously a disgusting and delicious concept. Love it!

  4. Jess

    To be perfectly honest I can't remember any of my cakes from my childhood.I once made my son (who is now 21) a dinosaur cake with Toblerone down the back. It looked amazing and he was super excited when he saw it. My book fell apart years ago and I would love to get back into indulging my creative side with his younger siblings' cakes, fingers crossed 🙂

  5. Gab*

    This looks like a great book! I'm yet to decide what to do about future birthday parties for my two, separate parties, combined party, same weekend, or different… I'm sure they'll let me know once they're old enough to care. As for me, my favourite cake was the swimming pool one mum made – from Women's Weekly of course!!

  6. Kate Sins

    My favourite birthday cake was for my 8th birthday and I had the sweet shop from the AWW book! It was so pretty, my mum did such a great job. I could've done with a party book this year when planning Mr 3's birthday!

  7. Megs

    I would love this book, Number one girl is turing 7 in a few weeks and this may give me some inspiration! My favourites where the dolly varden and also the castle from the WW birthday book with the upside down ice-cream cones, I thought I was so special with that one!

  8. Sarah

    My favourite wasn't actually my own, it was my brother's pirate treasure chest cake which was full of lollies. Of course I was more interested in the lollies than the actual cake.

  9. Kirsty Bell

    My favourite cake as a child was anything that matched the phase i was going throught from the womens weekly cookbook, The original. My sisters and my birthday were a week apart so i never got my own party and had to share but at least i got my own cake. I think the overall favourite would be my 40th birthday cake this year and my sister made me the most amazing croquembouche for me as my present. It was excellent and still talked about by my friends. I always do my childrens own cakes and like you dont worry if they aren't perfect, it shows they are made with love and care. This year was a lego cake and a giant cupcake for my 2 littlies. Just found your blog and very happy i did. Cheers

  10. Natalie {tiny and little}

    I love your tips for a fab party! It takes me back to when I used to do event planning and I couldn't agree more about knowing who the "client" is, making sure their needs are met and not worrying about the sourpusses.As for my favourite cake, I would have to say it was the little chocolate cake we got from a local bakery when one of my boys turned four. He had seen it once in their window a month or so before his birthday and asked for it because it had pink flowers, which is his second favourite colour after purple. He didn't care that it was pink or had flowers or that his bigger brother kept saying it was girly. I went to the bakery on his birthday and they had one in the shop – with purple flowers. The smile on his face as he stared at the candles and those purple flowers while we sang happy birthday, then told me how happy he was that I'd gotten that cake for him, touched my heart.

  11. Carlene Boley

    Hey, this is so great for me! My first baby’s birthday is coming up, and as a newbie, I’m a little overwhelmed with all the things that should be done. This is such a milestone, and I want it to be memorable not only to us, but also to the people who will be sharing that special day with us. So I’m really swayed towards preparing giveaways for them. “Don't get caught up in trying to make everything perfect.” – I’ll keep this in mind, always. Thanks! 🙂

  12. Antonio Liwanag

    "- my biggest and best advice to is to know your client. I think this applies to a super swish corporate gig or to a 1st Birthday party. Who is the person you're trying to impress by having the party? Your small person? Your mother-in-law? When you know this it'll guide you as to the type of party and even the time of day."Hi Cat!This advice is one of a kind. It's always best to know your client first so you could adapt your approach to the party. Expectations are different per client and that's our goal – to make our clients happy and satisfied!

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