We have 4 children, 2 older that are now finished with home parties and 2 younger children. Between them, we have hosted maybe 30 home-based parties, so I speak with a certain amount of experience regarding home-based children's birthday parties
Our home is in rural co Meath, and the garden around the house can easily accommodate 10 children at progressive play.
If you don't have space outside, my recommendation is go to a play zone or cinema. It's simply not feasible to entertain & feed 8-15 kids solely indoors.
The 5 Do’s of home Based Children's parties.
#1 Celebrate the Birthday outdoors between Spring or Autumn. Through reasoned argument try and get your child to agree to throw her party when the weather will likely be dry when all can enjoy outdoor play. We do September or May, despite all being born in December & January. Once they see the benefit they'll agree.
#2 Do swoop down on toys that conflict with your families values after the party. We sell wooden toys, I respect all toys except replica weapons. I cannot abide them, I grate my teeth, I tighten my breath and I clench my fist when I see a child playing with them. I simply won't allow them in the house – it's one of the few prohibitions in our family. You might be the same as me on weapons or perhaps electronic games is your thing. When given as a pressie during the party I’ll demure until the party is over, then in the bin it goes. Our kids know what happens and so they make those pressie prohibitions clear before the big day in order to maximise their haul.
#3 Do Lock up all pets – no discussion. Cats will scratch and God help us, dogs will bite. Rural dwellers only – no pony rides or donkey jaunts. Kids will fall and if they do your reputation and bank balance is in the hands of that child's parent. Simply avoid all animals - life is too short to take that risk.
#4 Do Prepare yourself or somebody else to be Games Master. Know your games in advance, have them printed out. Here is a list of reasonable party games with little-advanced preparation from familyfun.ie .
#5 If asked about pressie choice, why not request an educational toy that will progress their development. Even better a traditional game that encourages social play when the friends are over next.
The 5 Dont’s of home Based Children's party
#1 Don't ignore dangerous intimidating behavior. Ask the child to stop but certainly don't shout. We have a few escalation layers that we have used over the years. If no result, escalate to separating that child by consent from their group. If hassle persists inform the child that you are ringing their parents to arrange their collection or drop-off. Once I was almost ringing a parent, the child relented.
#2 Don't under-plan for Supervision. One adult in the house and at least one adult always with the children while they play their games outside. You simply can't leave them unsupervised, for safety and for best effort reasons. If the child slips and grazes/cuts themselves. You need to be able to re-assure that parent that all precautions were taken.
#3 Don't mix separate groups of children. Invite children only from one social group. Inviting children from school and also from a sports group will result in rivalries and sometimes exclusion. My 11-year-old daughter invited her school friends plus a separate friend. Real or imagined that child felt excluded.
#4 I'm being controversial and I’ll say, leave established team sports to the very end of the party EG Soccer / Gaelic / Hurling / Rugby or simply dont do them. Some kids simply don't like team sports. If these reluctant kids are invited to play these games early in the party, its sort of excluding them from enjoyment. Play the structured party games where everyone can partake. Then at the end of the party "maybe" play the team sports remembering that team sports often result in some form of injury and those superficial injuries will need explaining to parents. Our kids are team-sporty, however we don't do them during parties. It means you need to supervise both the game and those not playing the game.
#5 Dont use outside Entertainers – Frankly I don't see the value simply because children have such short attention spans. We got a fab magician once for our then 10-year-old boy, half the kids left before his 20-minute session was over. He commented that half wandering off was fairly normal.
A few notes written down on paper beforehand can fully de-stress the uncertainty of a home-based party. As a parent have fun & enjoy, but you have responsibilities. If found short you could be embarrassed by an irate parent (or financially impacted in the worst case scenario). We love our home parties, its personal, social and memorable, but I guess we are good at them now because of that experience at where the boundaries are.
Let me know your thoughts - all the best - Mimi