Local business owner offers tips on planning parties


You may wonder which age is a good age to begin having planned parties with guests. The answer certainly can vary; however, at ages 4-5, the process becomes a bit easier.

At this time in your child’s life, you will have a better understanding of what your little one likes and doesn’t like, as well as who you may consider inviting to the party. Not to mention, your child will have had a little bit of experience eating ice cream and cake!

As your child approaches this age and you start planning his/her birthday party or attending friends’ parties, be sure to consider the below pieces of advice. 


How many invites should you send out?

 I know it can be tough narrowing that number down. So, a good rule of thumb is to add one to the age of your child. While that may seem low to some, it can make the party much more manageable, and everyone will feel included in all activities.


How elaborate should the party be?

 While we all want the best for our children, sometimes keeping things simple can go a long way. You will find that your child and his/her guests are looking for yummy cake, fun activities and presents!

You may even want to think outside the box. Think of a destination party, in which someone else will host your party. This may be a bit more reasonable than you would think. Think of a popcorn shop, a chocolatier or even a small toy shop in your community. You may find that the business will host a party at a reasonable price. Your party can be unique to the children, have some time restraints and be of no mess to you.


Always RSVP

 Planning parties is already hard enough. Taking time to RSVP can make the planning process easier. If you plan to RSVP via phone or email, you may want to take the opportunity to find out what type of present the guest of honor might like, as well as consider the interests he or she has.


Do the parents drop their child off or attend?

If the kids are 5 or older, parents can probably drop their child off. Assuming you have proper assistance, the children don’t need mom and/or dad to monitor their every move or more importantly their consumption of candy, cake and soda. Certainly, this will depend on your comfort level.

To ensure timely pickup, be sure to make the time frame clear on the invite. A friendly reminder at drop off is also a good idea.


Gift giving/receiving

The average gift at birthday parties ranges from $5 to $15. Parents often struggle with when to open the gifts. Wait till everyone is gone or in front of the guests? Things can get crazy when kids start ripping open presents, but clearly they enjoy every bit of it. If you choose this option, remind your child prior to the party to be polite and gracious. Sometimes kids will be kids and filtering is not an option.

Mention that every gift is from the heart and how thoughtful it is regardless of what’s inside the package. A good practice to help eliminate an abundance of old toys is to have the child pick one old toy for donation for every new toy that is brought into the house. This not only keeps things manageable at your house but more importantly teaches your child compassion for kids less fortunate. Consider variations of this concept. It’s a lesson that can go a long way!


Goodies for Guests

 If you choose a goodie bag for each guest, keep it simple. Remember that even a box of colorful chalk can go a long way. Guest bags should be under $5.


Finally, the lesson of a thankful heart…

It’s always a good practice to have your child write thank you notes. It’s a great lesson, and the guest will feel all the more special. If the guest can take time to carefully pick a card and present, the guest of honor can express his/her gratitude! Regardless of age, the children can personalize the note in their own way.

If planning your birthday party is more of a chore, you’re thinking too hard. Have fun, and remember that the little ones have a much different idea of what FUN looks like!

Chris Aller is the co-owner of The Poppin’ Box LLC, a gourmet popcorn shop located in St. Johns.