Last year I stayed up until 2am decorating a stripey Smarties cake for my daughter’s birthday party.

Even my husband, who never normally gets involved, was roped in, separating out all the different coloured Smarties into individual bowls.

Despite the late night, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I see it as my annual rite of passage to being a mum. If you are less stubborn than I am, then I suggest you find a professional to make your cake as a means to reduce pre-party stress.

My other Top 10 Tips for a stress-free kids party are below:

1. Keep the numbers down

An obvious one, but if you don’t need to invite the whole class, then don’t. A smaller number of kids is much easier to manage and cheaper.

2. Choose a theme

Once you have chosen a theme it makes the rest of the decision making (cake, games, decorations) much easier as you have a focus to base everything on.

3. Entertainment

A children’s entertainer is a great way to ensure that both YOU and the kids enjoy themselves. However, they can be pricey, so if you want to keep costs down then consider organising a few games and activities yourself. This needn’t be stressful if you plan ahead and have four to five games prepared.

You might find that you don’t need to play them all as they may become particularly engrossed in one or two games. But it’s good to have a few up your sleeve just in case. If you need some inspiration then see my Top 10 Party Games for 5-year-olds. The games I have selected ensure that everyone is a winner and no one is a loser because a tear-free party is a stress-free party.

4. Don’t hold it at home

If the thought of 20 children (plus adults) running around your house makes you feel rather uneasy then it’s probably better to find a venue outside the home. It doesn’t need to be expensive, it could be the local park, woodland area or, if you are lucky enough to live near the sea, a beach. If you do want to hire a venue then church halls, nurseries, and schools are often good value for money.

5. Share the party

Halve the burden and the cost of the party by holding it with another child (or two) who have birthdays that fall around the same time. Make a list of all the tasks that need to be covered (venue hire, entertainer, invitations, food, cake, music, decorations and party bags) and divvy out amongst your co-hosts for a stress-free collaboration.

Kids parties needn't take as much time as planning a small wedding. Remove some of the stress by reading the Top 10 Tips for a stress free kids party | The Parent Express
6. Hold it between 2pm and 4pm

If you are not keen on providing a meal then holding the party between 2pm and 4pm is an ideal time slot. However, you will need to provide snacks. Ensure that they are easily accessible so they can grab them at any time.

Blueberries and raspberries

I also like to ensure that there are a couple of snacks and drinks for grown-ups. I find a charcuterie or cheese board goes down well. As does tea.

7. Send out invites a month in advance

Family calendars are often jam-packed with classes and activities at the weekend, so ideally you want to send invites out about a month in advance. If you send out invites any later than this, they are often forgotten. Too soon (i.e. less than two weeks) and they will probably already have plans.

You also need to be mindful of summer and Christmas holidays when most people are away. My daughter’s birthday falls in the first week of the summer break when everyone tends to disappear on holiday, so we will be celebrating her birthday a week early.

In terms of notifying everyone, Paperless Post provides free online invitations which make it easy to keep track of RSVPs. It’s also a good way to communicate any last minute changes. All you need to do is select an invite and ensure you have everyone’s email address.

8. Delegate jobs to family and friends

On the day, don’t feel you need to do it all. Rope in family and friends to help out with specific jobs to ensure a smooth running party:

  • Snack monitor – ensuring there is enough food and drink out on the table
  • Photographer- someone to take pictures of all the party antics
  • Cake cutter – someone to cut the cake and distribute it amongst the party goers
  • Party bag distributor – someone to stand near the exit to ensure each child leaves with a party bag

This leaves you free to organise the party games and ensure everyone is having a good time.

9. Have things for the kids to play with on arrival

Parties rarely start on time so to keep the early arrivals busy, put out some colouring books or toys on a table that they can play with whilst they wait for the other guests to arrive. This table becomes a useful area later for any children that get overwhelmed by the noise.

10. Serve cake at the end of the party

For your sanity, save the sugary treats for the end of the party to avoid hyperactive children running around.

Children peering at cake


Over to you

Have you experienced any particularly stressful parties that you would like to share? Or do you have tips that you think belong on this list?