Top tips for navigating the minefield that is ... kids parties. | Step It Up Dance

Top tips for navigating the minefield that is ... kids parties.

So it’s that time of year, they’ve started P1 or they’re back to school and some sort of normality can resume!

All is good. Your new morning routine is sorted. The novelty of doing the school run hasn’t quite worn off yet (if you’re a P1 parent), but the sound of ‘Hurry up, brush your teeth and get your shoes on or you’ll be late’ is ringing out in homes across Edinburgh (and beyond) and you’ll feel and sound like a broken record, five days a week, for the foreseeable. Normal service has resumed.

The next milestone is Christmas …

Unless you have a little one with a birthday coming up.

Now, birthdays used to be relatively straight-forward before they reached the school stage. When your little one was at nursery you could get away with inviting a few of their friends for a soft play date to celebrate, or just have cake, family, presents, pass the parcel and that was the ‘party’ done with.

As a mum of a P2 with a January birthday (and as a person who likes to plan) organising a school-age birthday party was a whole new ball game for me last year. And it wasn’t just me, I know there were a fair few mums who felt the same way.

What do you do?

Do have a birthday party for them?

Do you invite the whole class?

Or just a few friends?  

They’ve only just started school; they don’t really know who their friends are. If they do, this is highly likely to change from one week to the next.

Do you just forget having a party (but then find out that they’ve already invited people to the party you weren’t planning on hosting?) I found out quite quickly that a common conversational theme once at school is birthday parties and who they plan to invite!

Depending on what time of year your little one’s birthday is, a bouncy castle in the back garden and some running around isn’t an option thanks to the unpredictable weather (in Edinburgh at least). That aside, I didn’t want hordes of 5 and 6 year olds traipsing through my house. I’m a fairly relaxed mum but I’m not that relaxed when it comes to my home and my light green sofas!

Now, I’m ashamed to say that last year I left organising my little boy’s birthday party to the very last minute. He ended up having his party in March even though his birthday was in January!  I’m an organised person, but in my defence the reason I left it so late was because I didn’t know what to do! This whole ‘who do you invite’ etiquette thing got the better of me.

The pangs of guilt were eventually too much to ignore, so I sat down one Saturday afternoon and started to plan a party. To clarify, not having a party wasn’t an option in his head given that we’d said the year before he could have one – little ones never forget a promise do they?

From my experience here are some helpful things to consider when organising your little one’s birthday party in Edinburgh.

1: Given there was no chance we were hosting the party at home, finding a venue was a fairly big job and took up the most time. Yes there are lots of venues, but as I found out, there are also lots of people having birthday parties in Edinburgh! So, even after sourcing a venue, I found it wasn’t available. In the end I messaged some other school mums and went with a venue that we knew having been to a previous party there. I’d definitely say get your venue sorted as early as possible as this determines the date that you can hold the party.

2: Party entertainment. No way was I entertaining a horde of small children by myself, so I thoroughly recommend bringing in the experts. We’re fortunate in Edinburgh to have a wide range of options so start with Google and go from there. Reviews are always helpful too, so check out the different providers websites, social media channels and listings sites such as for testimonials.

3: What time should you have the party? We found a 1.5 hour party long enough for them to enjoy a structured party and have some food without getting too tired.

What times work best? In my experience, mid-morning (10.30–12.00pm) or mid-afternoon (anytime from 1.30 – 4.30pm) works well.

If you choose mid-morning they can have an early party lunch at 11.15am giving them enough energy for the rest of the party. If you go for mid-afternoon, they can have their lunch at home and have a party snack around 2.00/2.30pm. Phew, your date and timings are confirmed.

4: The minefield of who to invite….

My little boy went to a few birthday parties where his whole class was invited and he went to a few parties where only a few of his friends (old and new) were invited.

In the end, we went through his class list and he picked who he wanted to invite. In hindsight, this wasn’t necessarily the best idea as he said to me a few days before that ‘so and so wanted to come to his party because he’s now my friend!’ I guess that’s always a risk unless you invite the whole class.

Party entertainment and guest list sorted, it’s on to the all-important party bags

5. What goes inside the party bags?

The best ones according to my 6 year old have been ones containing balloons and sweets. Yes, he’s easily pleased in this regard. The stretchy men that you get in packs of 50 from amazon are also a hit it seems. I know some parents who’ve bought a box of books and given a book and some sweets in the party bag. This is also a good and often cost-effective option depending how many you’ve invited along to the birthday party!

Party bags organised and ordered there’s a wee bit of time to relax until before you know it, it’s the almost party time and you need to start considering the food.

6: Party food - My little one has been to parties where parents have ordered pizzas in, where they’ve cooked pizzas/food if the venue has kitchen facilities or where they’ve brought trays of food in, popped them out alongside disposable plates and let the little ones help themselves.

I ended up going with the food box option. I ordered cardboard food boxes from Amazon, made up sandwiches and filled each boxes with crisps, yoghurts, raisin boxes, a cheese, a carton of juice/water. While this required a little bit of extra effort, it meant that I could set up the party table easily and once the kids had finished eating all I needed was a big black bag for rubbish and one for cardboard recycling. Tidying up took five minutes. I also got a box of biccies for the parents who decided to stay. Other obvious things to take are a knife to cut the cake (I’ve been to a few parties where the knife was forgotten), candles, tin foil/food bags/ napkins for the slices of cake and a few large black bags to take the presents home in.

7: Breathe a massive sigh of relief when the party is over!

On reflection organising a kids birthday party wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. They had fun which was, of course, the main thing. Now I know what’s what I’ll try not to leave it so late to organise next time…

If you’re looking hold a birthday party in Edinburgh for your little one, Step It Up Dance offer party solutions with some added extras that take the hassle out of organising. 

  • When booking a party with us we can provide you with a full list of potential party venues across Edinburgh (including contact details) so you don’t need to search for one.
  • Our parties are super-fun, active and include party games i.e. all the elements that both boys and girls want from a party!
  • We can also include bespoke themes to make your little one’s party extra extra special (although parents tell us that our parties are really special with or without a theme).
  • Other party extras that we offer include everything from sourcing your venue for you, to party food boxes, personalised certificates and we can even organise the cake for you.

Our parties are also age appropriate: 

  • Age 2- 4 years (Family Hip Hop Party), for a max of 20 children (with adult participation)
  • Age 3 – 5 years (Hip Hop Juniors), for max of 30 children
  • Age 5 – 11years (Urban Dance Parties), for a max of 30 children (we can accommodate more by providing an extra party host, just let us know in advance)

To find out more about our hassle-free birthday parties in Edinburgh and The Lothians drop us a email or visit the parties page of our website.

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