The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Kid’s Party

ByHOPP Team
Feature Image: Sharky & George

Even little guests require big celebrations, and putting together a special event for kids takes a lot of forward planning — and even more creativity. 

A well-thrown kids party will draw your miniature guests into another world, whether it’s a fantastical, wizarding world, cowboy ranch or an alien planet nestled in a far-off galaxy. For them, stepping out of reality will be second nature, but the work of the host will require a little more legwork, and a great deal of organisation.

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From your venue and catering, to organising your kids party suppliers, planning a successful event for children can become an overwhelming experience. Fortunately, we have made it a little easier with our Ultimate Guide, so take a look and gather your own kids party ideas, inspiration, tips and tricks. 

Kids Party Ideas

A good theme never goes amiss — at any party — and for kids with lively imaginations, a well-executed theme will transport them into another world for a few hours. Take a look at these fun and creative kids party ideas for inspiration before you begin reaching out to your party suppliers.

  • Tea Party
    If you are hosting for slightly older kids who already have a taste for grandeur, put together a fancy tea party for them to live out their regal fantasies together. Puffy dresses, bow ties, and classic party decorations — and perhaps a live band to get them dancing.
  • Deep Space
    Teleport your guests into another galaxy with futuristic party decorations, elaborate lighting, and a metallic mirror cake worthy of the mother ship. Renting your decorations from kids party suppliers will give you access to otherworldly props and backdrops.
  • Murder Mystery
    Hire a space in a period hotel and have your mini-guests unravel a mini-mystery together. A black and white dress code, a scavenger hunt in the grounds (complete with magnifying glass), and a professional entertainer to keep the sleuthing on-track will keep them busy for hours.
  • Playtime
    This is a great theme if your guests are particularly young. Focussing the day around plenty of activities, games, and room for creative play will set their imaginations soaring, and allow them to socialise with other children in a way that suits them. Gather plenty of colourful kids party suppliers, and find professional kids entertainers with a passion for fostering a fun, easy-going atmosphere to enhance any child’s experience. 
  • Favourite Books
    Recreate your own chocolate factory, lead your guests straight into a winter wonderland Narnia, or play hide and seek with Peter Rabbit and Friends. Draw inspiration from your kid’s favourite books and make it a real-life literary masterpiece. 
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Consider Taking it Outdoors

Energy and excitement have a habit of raising the roof, so consider doing away with the indoor space altogether and, instead, organising the event around nature — it’s a little more forgiving than paintwork and carpet.

There are plenty of themes on which to base an outdoor party. Rent a contemporary teepee set-up and design your party catering around an outdoor barbeque for a Great Outdoors adventure, complete with creative and spirited entertainment, from obstacle courses to nature-oriented scavenger hunts. 

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Alternatively, recreate a miniature carnival for the kids to explore together. Get imaginative with colour, food, games and entertainment; a party magician will refocus any hectic energy brought on by the candyfloss and cake, while a buffet-style picnic cooked with seasonal, healthier ingredients will refuel and revive.

Ensure that you have the right amenities to cater to a crowd of young children. Hiring a sail tent or marquee will give them shelter from the noonday sun, cooling and heating for unpredictable weather, and toilet hire for  your guests’ convenience. 

Budgeting

Clarifying your budget before jumping in will help you to ensure that nothing gets out of hand, and that your plans remain as manageable and organised as possible. Arranging the venue, catering, entertainment and kids party suppliers is a juggling act made much simpler when one eye is kept on the monetary side of things.

Kids Party Venues

As anyone who has ever hosted from their own home will attest, kids’ excitement and enthusiasm for a party knows no bounds — particularly when those bounds constitute the living room of your home. Hiring a venue more suited to a roomful of miniature guests will save a great deal of stress, and allow you to enjoy and partake in the events alongside your child.

When searching for a space, make sure they are equipped (and willing) to cater to a younger crowd, and that it will be able to accomodate a professional children’s entertainer.

There are plenty of beautiful kids party venues to cater to any theme, whether you are searching for somewhere a little more regal for a fairytale celebration, or a wide, outdoor space that can house a temporary marquee and barbecue. Collaborating with knowledgeable and experienced kids party suppliers will mean that you can make the most of any space.

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Ideally, you should begin your search a couple of months before the party, as you will need to leave yourself time to issue the invitations, and gather the RSVPs. Organise a few different viewings, and make sure you have a clear plan for decor before committing to a space. 

The Party Invitations

Taking the time to create a bespoke design for your kids party invitations and ‘Thank You’ cards will give you the opportunity to hint at the magic and excitement in store for your guests. 

A professional stationery designer will have the right eye for capturing the essence of your theme; from the typeface to the special embellishments, such as embossing and illustration, you will have free rein over the final look of your party stationery. Let your theme dictate all elements of the design process, and create something that will take pride of place on the fridge door or family wall, and begin building the excitement in the weeks before the party. 

Remember to include everything your guests (and their parents) need to know:

  • Whose Party it is
  • The Date and Time (beginning and end)
  • The Location
  • Whether or Not Food will be Provided
  • The Dress Code, Fancy Dress, or Whether or Not They Will Need to Bring ‘Messy’ Clothes
  • An RSVP.

You may also wish to put in a request for no gifts, as most parents will assume that gifts are expected — particularly if you are celebrating a birthday. A brief note letting them know that their presence is all you expect will ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

Catering for a Kid’s Party

Running, dancing, and exercising a vivid imagination all require a hearty meal to stay on track, and working out the logistics of catering to a roomful of hungry children can seem like a trying experience. 

If it is a small group, you may get away with preparing the food yourself, but too much time in the kitchen can cause you to miss significant moments on your child’s special day. Finding kids party catering solutions will take a great load off your shoulders, give you the time and freedom to enjoy the spoils of your labour, and refuel with a delicious, professionally prepared meal.

For the younger generations, the most palatable food tends to err on the side of simple, but that need not limit you to the same old array of cheese sandwiches, crisps, and cocktail sausages. Experienced kids party suppliers will know how to create a fun and exciting menu that is palatable to all.

For restless young ones, a buffet-style service will allow them to pick and choose their plate, and return for second-servings — although it can be tricky to keep track of anyone who hasn’t eaten a balanced meal, so having a few parents to help supervise would make your job easier. 

If you choose a buffet, your caterer may recommend that they prepare slightly more food than necessary, to ensure that nobody misses out.

For older children, a sit-down meal will evoke a more upscale atmosphere, which may be more up-their-street if you are throwing a more lavish affair.

Consider the foods and flavours your child loves, and steer clear of any allergies, such as peanuts, that your guests may suffer from.

And don't forget the cake! A great photo opportunity and the more personal the better!

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Finding the Best Kids Party Suppliers

If you have a large space to transform, then gathering your kids party suppliers and decorations can seem like a formidable undertaking. Luckily, having a theme to follow can make the process a little easier; by eliminating any decor that will not serve your theme, you can make shopping around for children's party suppliers much easier to manage.

Renting your kids party decorations will enable you to fill your venue with an impressive array of decor and furniture, without breaking the bank. Kids party suppliers that rent decor and props have a wide array of options to suit any theme, whether you are taking your guests to the deep jungle, the deep sea, or deep space.

Consider how to use lighting, props, and furniture to the best of your advantage. Renting your kids party decorations allows you to get a little more creative with your set-up, as you will have an near-unlimited supply of themed decor to choose from, such as:

  • Backdrops
  • Furnishings
  • Centrepieces
  • Scenery props
  • Welcome signs
  • Creative Lighting

A well-appointed venue will capture imaginations, add vibrancy to your photographs, and immerse your guests in a brand new experience. Talk to your kids party suppliers for advice on filling the space, and creating an unforgettable experience. 

Remember to leave plenty of floorspace for those sudden bursts of energy: running, jumping, dancing and general arm-flailing all require plenty of space.

Bespoke Decor

Devising a theme outside of the usual box of tricks will require a little extra imagination and plenty of party planning magic. 

You needn’t feel restricted by ‘the norm’; if you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, then collaborating with party suppliers who offer bespoke services will ensure that your space is filled with perfect and unique props, signs and decor. 

Begin your plans in plenty of time, and make full use of your party suppliers’ creativity and innovation in order to create a clear vision, and create a design never before seen. 

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How to Entertain Kids at a Party

A few well-timed games will give your guests an opportunity to burn off some steam and have fun, as well as helping any shy kids to get involved with the festivities. It’s a good idea to plan ahead, and keep a list of games to play in order to keep the day organised and well-structured.

There are plenty of classic party games that never go out of style, and many of them can be tweaked to match with your theme.

Games for Younger Kids

  • Pass the Parcel
    Playing this game is a rite of passage for any child. Stock up on a few on-theme gifts and wrap them within several layers of paper. If you are in charge of the music, try to ensure that every kid gets a turn with the parcel — especially if you’re playing with a younger audience.
  • Sleeping Lions
    Great for snatching a few minutes of peace and quiet in the middle of the party — or for restoring any depleted energy reserves before the festivities continue — sleeping lions requires kids to lie down and remain as motionless as possible while the judge wanders the room. Tell a few jokes, do a few impersonations, and anyone who cannot hold back the laughter will be disqualified. 
  • Musical Statues
    Another party classic, and great for younger kids still getting to grips with more complex rules. Play some theme-appropriate music, and give them plenty of time to dance and use up some excess energy.
  • “Simon Says”
    Play this game early on, when their concentration is at its best. You can swap Simon for any character and think up some fun movements and poses that fit with your theme. 

Games for Older Kids

  • Duck Duck Goose
    A great game for playing outside, where there’s plenty of space. Sit the kids down in a circle, and have one child go around the outside calling each of their friends ‘Duck’. When they pick a ‘Goose’, that child has to race the picker around the outside of the circle. If they lose the race, they are now the picker. If you have a theme for your party, you can easily change the terms from ‘Duck’ and ‘Goose’ to something more appropriate, such as ‘Unicorn’ and ‘Fairy’, or ‘Mario’ and ‘Bowser’.
  • Grandmother’s Footsteps
    Here is a game infamous for evoking a few screams and squeals. Pick a ‘grandmother’, who stands against the wall with their back turned to the rest of the kids. When they aren’t looking, their friends must creep towards the wall; as the ‘grandmother’ turns around, the kids must stand perfectly still. Any movement will disqualify them from the game but, if a kid reaches the wall before the grandmother can stop them, they are the winner. Give it a quick refresh by swapping ‘Grandma’ with any villain that matches your theme. 
  • The Chocolate Challenge
    Have the kids take turns rolling a dice. Each time a ix is rolled, that child must don a hat, scarf and gloves, and use a knife and fork to eat a chocolate bar. The rest of the kids continue rolling the dice, while the chocolate-eater must get their fill before another six is rolled.
  • Stick the Tail on the Donkey
    You can easily swap the Donkey for any fun character. Have your guests Stick the Wand on the Wizard, the Helmet on the Spaceman, the Horn on the Unicorn or the Monkey on the Tree. Let them each take a turn, and, if you think it will be too easy, spin them in a few circles to disorientate them first. 

Hiring Children's Entertainers

If you have the budget for it, hiring a professional kids party entertainer will add an extra touch of excitement to the day, and give you the opportunity to tidy up, prepare the food, or join in with your guests. 

Kids party professionals know how to bring the best out of any group. Rather than shouldering the duty of entertaining a roomful of children yourself, bringing in a team of entertainers will give you an opportunity to stand back, watch, and enjoy the party yourself.

  • The Age of Your Guests
    Of course, what a five year old finds spellbinding may well fall flat with children of eight or ten, and a good children’s party entertainer will typically offer packages catering to kids of different ages,
    If you are celebrating a particular birthday with the entire class, then your entertainment will be simple enough to arrange, but younger guests or siblings may require additional entertainment to keep them interested while the older children have their fun.
    An additional entertainer, on-hand for face painting or a simplified scavenger hunt will keep any extra young ones busy and occupied if you think they will struggle to keep up with the big kids.
  • The Theme
    A captivating princess, an astronaut fresh back from Mars, a wobbly pirate captain, or a magician who leaves everyone — parents and kids alike — spellbound. Whatever your theme, arranging for your children’s entertainer to follow suit and put on an absorbing and immersive show will work wonders.
    Professional children’s entertainers are adept at assuming the right role for the right situation, and devising fantastic shows and interactive games to keep children captivated and enthused.
    Discuss the particulars of your theme with your children’s entertainer well in-advance of the event; they will need time to finetune their act, and gather on-theme prizes for the day. 
  • The Venue
    Some kids party suppliers will require a particular set-up to pull-off their act, so it is important to liaise with your venue ahead of time to ensure that they can accommodate additional lighting or sound equipment.
    If you are hiring a kid’s DJ or musician, check that there is space for the little ones to dance — and take breaks when their energy levels take a dip.
Safe and Sound Events

Photography and Videography

You will never forget the first time a man pulled a rabbit out of his tophat, or the moment an enchanting princess walked into the room. Your miniature guests will be busy dashing from one surprise to the next, and as the host, shouldering the responsibility of capturing all those wide-eyes and -smiles will pull you out of the action, and force you to juggle the celebrations with the practicalities. 

Having a professional photographer and/or videographer allows you to keep your attention squarely on your guests, safe in the knowledge that all those memories are being collected by experts. 

As with all of your kids party suppliers, doing your research and ensuring that you are reaching out to your photographer and videographer in plenty of time before the party will help you to find someone who truly understands your wishes. Meet in person before the event to talk through the schedule for the day — and let parents know that they can leave their cameras at home.

For a truly special memento, hire a photo booth complete with fun props and accessories. These are a hit with all ages, and the snaps will make for a wonderful finishing touch to the party bags. 

Kids Party Bags

We all know the scene: as the music winds down, tired eyes begin to tear-up, and adrenaline turns into anguish as it’s time to say Thank You and Goodbye to your host. As is tradition, you may wish to circumvent any post-party blues by preparing a small gift or party bag for your guests to take home with them. 

Typically, kids party bags contain a small collection of sweets, toys, and a slice of cake as a thank you for their presence. 

For your favours, gather a few little gifts that adhere to your theme. If you are sending home a roomful of amateur detectives, include a small magnifying glass; if you have thrown a party in the great outdoors, include a small bag of wildflower seeds for them to plant themselves. 

Catering to Your Adult Guests

Your kids party entertainers will do a wonderful job of giving you some time and space away from the chaos, and planning a few little creature comforts for your adult guests to enjoy as you watch the children play will help everyone to feel welcome, and well looked after.

Catering

Speak with your caterers about putting on a little extra for the parents. If your main menu is decidedly ‘kid friendly’, then see about devising a few more dishes geared towards more mature tastebuds. Finger foods will make it easier for parents to help themselves when they are able; younger children may need more attention.

Drinks

What better way to make the parents enjoy themselves than to hire a bar? Offer a few adult drink options alongside the soft drinks and juices for the adults to enjoy when your smaller guests are off having the time of their lives. 

Entertainment

The parents will love watching their children enjoy themselves, but finding a few creative ways of bringing the adults in on the fun will be wonderful for all of your guests, small and big. Speak with your kids party entertainers about devising one or two games and activities that include the grown ups and, if you choose to hire a photobooth, make sure that the parents have a few snaps with their kids to take home and treasure forever.  

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A Chill Out Area

Kids parties tend to last for a few hours, and no one wants to be perched on an uncomfortable chair for more than a couple of minutes. Hire a few soft furnishings along with the rest of your party decor, and create a peaceful, cosy haven on one end of the room. 

A Few Final Tips

  • It may not be a convenient but, from time to time, a guest’s sibling may unexpectedly ask to stay. Ensure that you have a few extra kids party suppliers, favours, and a little extra food on hand just in case of any mini party crashers.
  • If you are receiving gifts, set up a secluded, inconspicuous area in which to keep them until after your guests have departed. Opening gifts during the party will pose a potentially big distraction, and may lead to arguments.
  • If you are hosting for toddlers, pick a window during the day time when they will have a fair amount of energy left. Avoid nap times, and be prepared to keep the festivities relatively brief.
  • Adult parties tend to go on indefinitely, but kids are a little more restricted by pick-up time, tea-time, and bedtime. Most parents will appreciate it if you include a definitive ‘end time’ on your invitations.
  • When ordering from your kids party suppliers, get a few Thank You notes printed in the same design as your Invitations. If you make a running list of all the gifts your child has received, sending out the post-party Thank Yous will be a five-minute task.
  • Keep on top of your kids party suppliers — who you have paid, who requires further information from you — with a running list or spreadsheet. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with so many plans in the air, but good organisation and a clear head will pay off.

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HOPP Team
Written by our Team of HOPP Experts.