Choose a theme: Current children’s movies often offer a full selection of paper products such as plates, cups and centerpieces, but don’t limit yourself to these options. For example, a “Toy Story” theme could feature actual character dolls – smaller ones to decorate a cake, and larger ones to serve as a centerpiece.
Plan activities: To keep the energy going, set up a series of games and activities. Here in the Southwest, a piñata provides a great way to get every child involved. Be sure to make it harder to hit the piñata at first, so that every child has a chance to take a hit. Other games could include relay races and, for older children, a treasure hunt. You may want to mix active games with quieter ones. Be prepared to explain the rules and process for each activity, and encourage your little host or hostess to give everyone the opportunity to play.
Stick with finger foods: Pizza fingers are easier to manage than full slices, and sandwiches are tidier than fried chicken. Offer a variety of kid-friendly options. For dessert, consider cupcakes or cookies.
Plan for parents: If you are inviting the parents to stay have an assortment of drinks and appetizers ready for them. You may want to encourage them to bring cameras to document the party, with photos that can be shared later. Clearly define a time for the party to end, for the benefit of parents who drop their child off at your home.
Prizes for everyone: Children who aren’t as good at games should leave with prizes and treats also. Goody bags filled with small packages of candy and an assortment of inexpensive toys are a nice way to wrap up the day.
Above all, remember that children may come prepared to have fun, but could still be shy and unsure in a social setting. Pay attention to the wallflowers and encourage them to get involved in the games and play. With this approach and your careful planning, everyone will have a terrific time!