Parents are spending thousands of dollars to make their children’s birthday memorable, as parties for little ones become big business. But do we need supersized soirees to make our kids feel special?

Centacare parenting educator Kay Buckley says simple parties can be just as fun and is urging parents not to feel pressured into staging lavish events.

Kay spoke to The Advertiser last week about tips for successful parties which she says should be memory-making rituals where children can start to strengthen their genuine friendships.

“Parties give kids and parents the opportunity to see each other in a different space,” she says.

“Often parents get overwhelmed and exhausted by thinking they have to include everybody and have the big celebration, but keep it simple.

“Try not to fall into the trap of feeling like you are competing and that lavish is the norm.”
Kay’s tips for successful kids’ parties:

  • Keep the numbers down. Don’t feel pressured to invite the whole class. Missing out is part of life
  • Rehearsal goes a long way. Talk about your expectations before the party. Don’t give your child too many rules but be clear about simple things, such as greeting people by name and letting friends win games
  • Shorter parties work better. Keep the event at a two-hour time limit and be very clear about when the party starts and when it ends
  • If you your child is inviting friends with siblings, be clear about who is invited and who is not
  • Limit food to three delicious treats on the table and choose water over fizzy drinks. Adding chopped up strawberries and mint to a jug of water can turn it from plain to pretty
  • Keep the party bags simple. Put some thought into what you would like children to take home but choose simple over extravagant
  • Have a couple of games but allow children to make their own fun
  • If your child is overwhelmed on the day, wait until after the party to talk about their behaviour
  • If your child is aged seven or over, give them the freedom to attend parties on their own.
  • Follow up gifts with thank you notes if your child is able to write the notes themselves