Planning Kid's Parties: Put Your Ego Aside

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For this post, I had to call in a favor to our resident children's Party Expert, The Party Fairie. aka, my daughter.

The Party Fairie, (pictured below) has been entertaining children and their families in Villages in and around the Kingdom of Greater Philadelphia for thousands of years. (Well, maybe about 15 years, but you get the idea!)

Her mantra is: "All for fun, and fun for all!" And that is the first thing she wants parents to keep in mind when entertaining children: keep it fun! and remember that what might seem fun for you, may not be so fun for the kids.

A few years ago, I was asked to volunteer to help plan a local school picnic for the 8th grade class. This was to be a joint project between myself and the parent's club. 

Aside from the parent's committee making the kids bring their own lunches, and the treasurer not knowing what the budget was, that same committee spent nearly $1500 on t-shirts (which could have been gotten for free if they would have allowed a local business to sponsor them and place their logo on them.) Much to administration's dismay, those t-shirts wound up being "redesigned" by the kids-fringe cut into the bottom, collars cut off and slipped down over the shoulder a la "Flash Dance", sleeves ripped off and made into headbands, and several dozen shirts were even skillfully tied together to be used for "rope" in a random and spontaneous tug of war. (The shirt-rope lost!)

Against my better judgement, the committee also opted to serve Root Beer Floats during the picnic. My more practical and economical suggestion, which was unanimously rejected, was single serve water ice cups, that would have cost about $75-$100 from the local wholesale club, would have not needed extra volunteers to assemble, would have been "self-serve", and could have been conveniently stored in a cooler with ice, rather than the chest freezer that was moved outdoors by the janitors for the day. (Efficiency. Not just another 10 letter word-OR another silly notion...)

Now I am way old enough to remember root beer floats. But a majority of the 8th graders had no idea what a root beer float was. About $400 was spent on ice cream, root beer, cups and other supplies, and 3 volunteers scooped ice cream into cups and poured the soda in (because it was more 'sanitary' that way)  and I watched helplessly as the root beer floats suffered the same fate as those "rope" t-shirts mentioned above. 

A huge trash can got filled up rather quickly with the rejected refreshment, in favor of snow cones (also provided) because the committee did not recognize that it was they who wanted the floats-not the kids. Most of the kids hated them, took one mouthful and then tossed them in the trash, resulting in hours of time + food + money wasted unnecessarily. Some of the kids (friends with my daughter) still talk about how awful those floats were. I am not only embarrassed for that entire committee, but sad to think that there was one chance to send the 8th graders off to high school with a memorable picnic-and they are remembering it for some of the worst reasons. 

My point here is not to say "I told you so", however it is always a good idea to listen to your event planner when she makes menu suggestions or recommendations on how much food to buy. This is her area of expertise, and is exactly why you hired him or her. To go rogue on your event planner will almost always result in wasted effort, time, food and ultimately money.

Photo: The Party Fairie
delivers a
To avoid this issue is simple: The Party Fairie suggests, that when planning a child's or teen's party, make your budget, and then put your ego aside. Think about and focus on what pleases and entertains the child-not on how you want to impress your friends. I'm not being harsh here-just brutally honest. Too many times has my staff or myself seen the above scenario repeated, and its so simple to remedy. Think practically, keep it simple, and keep the child at the center of the planning. 

And now, for some links:

Kids Party Food (Cakes and more!)

25 Clever Kid's Party Themes

All Things Prom

6 Tips for Planning an Autism-Friendly Birthday Party

*Find more Children's party ideas, useful tips and other fun, on our  Facebook Page

To book your Party Fairie Party assistants for your child's birthday, please call 215-257-3193.