28 June 2017

Birthday Parties

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An Age Old Dilemma!

Birthdays should be special days, one day in the year when your child has a magical time and is made to feel really loved and important.

As your child grows older, develops and changes, you may want to find different ways to celebrate. We have looked at age groups from one to ten, and have come up with lots of tips and ideas to help you plan the perfect party for that extra-special day, whatever their age.

Under Twos
That big milestone, the first birthday, is surely one we all really want to celebrate and remember, and so it is often a big family occasion. It is also a very good excuse to have a social gathering, get some friends round for a drink, and pass around the nibbles and cut the birthday cake.

Turning two, the tinies can join in a bit more, but will still interact more with the familiar adults and children in the family and close circle of friends. If there are older kids around it is a good idea to lay on a few games on for them - simple ones like pass the parcel or musical bumps take very little preparation but help provide a real party atmosphere.

Three and Four year olds
By this age, children play together much more, and will begin to enjoy the social aspect of a party, as well as party food and a fun atmosphere. They can now concentrate for short periods on entertainment, and at this age they really love physical play - such as a bouncy castle or a play centre party.

Small children are very active and very noisy, and also may want their parents to stay with them, so a bigger venue means more space for all concerned. Wherever the party is, food needs to be simple and appealing - all sitting down to eat together at a table is usually more practical for this age group, or picnic-style on a big rug, with food in colourful individual boxes.

"From age five, children have a much longer attention span, and can play organised games, or enjoy a more sophisticated party entertainer - perhaps a story-teller, a puppet show, or one who includes making and doing things."

Five and Six year olds
From age five, children have a much longer attention span, and can play organised games, or enjoy a more sophisticated party entertainer - perhaps a story-teller, a puppet show, or one who includes making and doing things.

Having a party at home works well at this age - children are old enough to be without their parents for a couple of hours, and are easier to control. Although children are now manageable enough to take on an outing in small groups, check carefully with individual parents to make sure their kids understand what they will be doing. At home, food can be more buffet-style, or children can select from a simple restaurant kids' menu, as older ones should be encouraged to use their own powers of choice.

Seven and Eight year olds
Seven and eight is when children really start wanting to do 'grown-up' things, like girlie makeover parties. This is also a good age for more educational entertainment, where kids can enjoy learning something new and unusual - but they also still really love the traditional party games and party fun.

You can really start to 'theme' your party for this age group, and your child can become more involved with the planning - who to invite, how to decorate, choice of games etc. Similarly, the activities can become more skilled and adventurous, such as painting pottery or art and crafts, or involve a trip to a restaurant, combined with a theatre or cinema visit. Food can move on to more adult tastes - pizza, burgers and the like are very popular at this age!

Nine and Ten year olds
Big kids have their own very definite ideas of what they want to do - so go along with their ideas as much as possible, as they need to exercise some independence, especially where their peer group is involved.

Kids this age will enjoy going out with their friends to a show or a pop concert, they may want to have a disco or a sleepover party, and do very grown-up things - but they will still enjoy the special treats from their younger days, such as a special cake, and nice party bags for their friends.

At this age it can be difficult to combine all ages of friends and family at one event - so a special treat could involve a celebration family meal one night, with the 'friends' birthday party held on a different day.

FOR SOME MORE IDEAS:
Have a look at the ABC Party Directory opposite for lots of party people and services
. Call a specialist party organiser to see how they can advise you
. If present-buying is becoming a nightmare, ABC Shopping and Services Directory (starting on page 139) offers all sorts of unusual gift ideas and toy shops
. For a special meal or party in a family-friendly pub or restaurant, see our 'Let's Eat Out' feature starting on page 134
. Theatres, farms and other places to visit for parties are in the ABC Shopping and Services Directory (starting on page 139)


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