Family Life

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You’re The Expert: Birthday Party Tips

Birthday Party TipsWe asked you to tell us about your experiences hosting and attending birthday parties. Check out these statistics, as well as our readers birthday party DOs and DON’Ts.

32.9% Percentage of parents who invited less than nine kids to their child’s birthday parties. Only 12.2% of parents surveyed let their children invite as many friends as they wanted.

53.7% Percentage of parents who buy a birthday cake instead of making it themselves.

82.9% Percentage of parents who do not invite their child’s entire class.

Home is where the party is…

54.9% choose to host their child’s birthday party at home.

20.7% go to activity centres designed for birthdays.

69.5% organize the party into games.

25.6% hire an entertainer.

Birthday Party Tips - ParentsCanada Survey Results

Our Readers Say

We figured the best place to turn for birthday party advice is to the people who are doing it all the time – you! Check out these lessons learned from our online survey respondents.

DO what
you can afford to do for your kids without outside pressure to have a
particular type of party. Keep it simple. I love organized parties where
there is some type of activity for an hour, then food, cake and
presents for the last hour. Two hours is usually good for us. I find the
kids are just happy it’s their birthday, they are happy regardless of
what you spend and what you do. Just the acknowledgement means so much
to them and the opportunity to play with their friends.

Kathy, Ottawa, Ont.

DON’T blindfold the child when playing the piñata!

Deziree, Edmonton

DON’T have
two- and three year-olds sit on a blanket to eat the cupcakes. At least
five of the cupcakes were stepped on and tracked throughout the room!

Jennifer, Hamilton, Ont.

DON’T go
overboard. For my son Luke’s second birthday, we rented a hall and
invited a ton of kids but it turned out to be overwhelming trying to
keep track of so many two-year-olds, especially since the hall was not
childproofed. We had to clean the hall before and after and bring Luke’s
toys plus we ordered all of the food. For Luke’s third birthday, we
learned our lesson and had a smaller party of 15 kids at our house. We
cleared our living room and set it up with a variety of toys such as a
kitchen set, train set, Little People Toys and a work bench so there was
something for everyone. I made the sandwiches and snacks and ordered a
cake from a local bakery. Not only did we save a ton of money by having
it at home but it was so much more relaxing! The kids were all playing
in one area and the parents had a chance to mingle and enjoy themselves
as well. My advice? Don’t go too big – a smaller party is much more
relaxing and enjoyable!

Tammy, Labrador City, Nfld.

try and make your own food for the kids and parents attending. It’s too
much work and you can’t focus on your guests. Just order pizza or have
fruit and veggie trays.

Wendy, St. Catharines, Ont.

spend a fortune on decorative disposable plates and cups. Plastic,
reusable ones are more durable and a better bang for your buck –
especially if you have a big crowd.

Erica, North Vancouver

DO open
presents with all the children involved. Do organize a party that will
not leave anyone out, where they can’t choose favourites to sit by or
play with.


DO put an RSVP date to reply. I ended up waiting way too long to hear back from some people.


DON’T invite adults/parents with the kids. It’s way too much work to try and entertain the adults as well as the kids.


DON’T get
in over your head. Be sure you know how many kids your home (and you)
can handle. Do ask for help hosting from another parent or a friend.
Then make sure you have back up!


DO invite the whole preschool class so no one feels left out!


DO designate
someone to take photographs. It’s best if it’s a family member, but not
a close one, so that they can get photos of all the guests and


DO have
a backup plan for a backyard/outdoor party. On my daughter’s third
birthday we were to have a backyard party with games and piñata. The day
before, it was a beautiful sunny day, the day of the party it was non
stop rain! The piñata was moved into the garage and the rest of the
activities had to be discarded for a bunch of dancing and running in the


DON’T give goldfish as parting gifts!


DON’T let
your child pick a theme unless you know you can buy the party favours
for it. I looked everywhere for favours for Scooby-Doo.


DON’T expect
a perfect party every time. There may be tears. There may even be a
temper tantrum. There may even be a food fight. Just enjoy.


DON’T let them snack on chips and munchies before serving the birthday cake.


DON’T run
around buying an assortment of low priced junky items to fill loot
bags. Spend the money on one decent item for each child. They will
actually get use out of it, and you will save time and stress!


DON’T buy
messy food if you’re hosting a party for young ones at home. It will
end up all over your house! Don’t host a party too late in the day as
you can run into tired and cranky partyguests. With young children,
don’t assume that you can drop the kids off. Ask the parents of the
birthday kid if they would like you to stay to help supervise.


DON’T do things you like, do things your child likes.


try to organize four- and five-year-olds into set games as they just
want to run around having fun and being free. You’ll end up very
frustrated with only a couple kids participating.JEANNETTE, MILL BAY,

Published May 2010

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