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Birthday Parties

Just like throwing a Bachelor Party but with less alcohol, nudity and other inappropriate activities

Birthday party food

Ideas and tips to survive this fun, rewarding, messy, noisy, stressful, kudos earning, crap food giving, onslaught.

Parties, birthday or otherwise can be daunting for a single dad. The age of your children greatly alters the type of party you need to plan and organise.

Up until the age of 8 or 9 throwing a kids party often involves a whole bunch of screaming children from school or social group making a complete mess of your house or a park, unless you throw a tonne of money at it and outsource the whole thing.

kids eating a birthday cake

Hosting Yourself

If you decide to have a party at home then first pick the date and who’s going to be invited. This can be tricky as to whether you invite a select few or bite the bullet and invite everyone your child knows for fear of upsetting anyone.

If you’re planning on inviting kids from school with written invitations, be mindful of excluding anyone. Your child might say want to invite everyone in their class except one child, which could be awkward. You might have to explain to your child that it would be unfair to exclude them even if they are not friends (unless the situation is more serious).

When just inviting a smaller group where a larger number of children won’t be invited then this is generally ok. You should still be discreet about handing out invitations, it’s quite unpleasant watching a 6 year old walking around handing out invitations to their friends in class whilst others are told they aren’t coming. Either ask the teacher to discretely hand them out or contact parents directly outside of school.

You’ll probably want to organise your house ready for the onslaught by putting away precious items and letting your child know that certain rooms are off limits to guests.

fairy bread

Feeding the Masses

Party food can be quite straight forward, by getting a bunch of pre-packaged sausage rolls and the like, packets of chips, bags of lollies and drinks etc. Make sure you check for any kids with food allergies or requirements. Jabbing an epipen into child and calling an ambulance because they ate a peanut is not a good party experience. Although can be fun if you have to jab a kid you don’t like.

Don’t forget the cake and candles (and matches - learned this the hard way by having to set fire to a piece of paper in the toaster to light them). If you want to make your own party food there are lots of good, easy recipes you can have a crack at and a lot of it can be made ahead. Here’s one example of ideas, but there’s plenty more online.

Don’t forget parties with younger children will often have parents hanging around who aren’t ready to leave their little ones alone just yet. Make sure you’ve got plenty of coffee and some adult snacks available as well. You can put some of them to work running party games, BBQ-ing or helping organise the food.

Order in the Court

Order of events: Your average kids party will be around 3 hours long. Have a few snacks and drinks set up on a table upon arrival. A great idea is to buy paper cups for drinks and have a pack of pencils handy for children to write their name and decorate their cups so you don’t have to keep dishing out new ones.

Once most of the kids have arrived, had a snack and a drink it’s a good idea to have some games lined up otherwise kids will start running amuck.

Party games although they might seem cheesy and old fashioned, are still exciting to young children.

children playing tug of war

Gauge the type of games you organise by what your own child enjoys at their age. Games like, pin the tail on the donkey, a piñata, races, pass the parcel, musical statues and chairs are party favourites. It’s worth having a couple of little prizes available to get everyone excited and participate. Prizes as simple as toys from the dollar shop, mini lolly bags etc are some great ideas.

Here are some other games you might like to try:

  • Sleeping Lions or Dead Budgies - have kids all lay down on their backs, eyes closed without moving and have someone walk around an place smarties or lollies on them. Put them on their eyelids, chins etc. The first one who moves or makes a noise is out and gets to eat their lollies. Continue until one is left.

  • Treasure hunt - Give each child a paper bag with a list of things to put in it. Things like a twig, a green leaf, a brown leaf, a small stone, something red, a flower are good examples for them to find.

  • Egg and spoon races - relay or solo

  • Balloon race - kids have a balloon held between their legs for a race. Can be done as a relay or in teams

  • Limbo dancing

  • Water balloon fight

  • There are also some ideas you can patch from what to do on a rainy day in case the weather is bad.

children dressed as superheroes


Themed parties can be great. Some of the parties I threw for my kids when they we little included:

  • A pool party is great if you have access to one. Aside from the safety concerns to manage, this really takes care of itself and you don’t even really have to organise anything other than food

  • Nerf war - kids all brought their own along and they had a big battle

  • Bike, scooter or skateboard party, little kids riding around the park what could go wrong. We are fortunate enough to have a BMX track and skate ramp nearby.

  • Park play party - BBQ and playing on swings and slides, take a football or kids cricket set. Simple

  • Dress up party. Fancy dress or theme like Knights and princesses. We just made a whole bunch of swords and shields out of cardboard and let kids go for it.

Don’t forget that the birthday cake is best left til last, it’s the unwritten rule that it signifies the end of the party. Some people choose to give out lolly bags at the end of a party, I found this an annoying extra level of stress to organise so usually just have a bunch of chocolate bars in a bowl for them to take one of.

Once kids are old enough, a sleepover is a good party option. Usually from 11 and up kids are happy for sleepovers, but maybe younger if it’s a few close friends.

Sleepovers are usually simple with everyone just bringing a sleeping back and pillow. Most little kids will happily sleep on the floor or a gym mat, but some might bring inflatable beds. Ordering pizza, chucking on a movie and having pancakes for breakfast is a no brainer.

Teenagers eating pizza

Stuff This, Someone Else Can Do It

Outsourcing a party. Some times the easiest thing to do is throw money at a party. Many places like bowling alleys have kids parties that include food and everything. These are often a better option for kids once they hit that 10-11 year old age upwards. Teenagers generally don’t play pin the tail on the donkey or dress ups!

Some ideas for outsourcing, or away from home parties include:

  • Laser tag

  • Bowling

  • Mini golf

  • Swimming pool/Aquatic Centre

  • Arcades

  • Cinema and lunch out

  • Beach

  • A trip to a museum, play, gallery, exhibition

  • Theme Park

  • Indoor climbing and activity centres

Just make sure parents are clear on drop off and pick up times as inevitably you’ll find yourself waiting outside the movies for an hour after for the parent who ‘forgot’!

Remember to utilise other people for help. An older child, a family friend or cousin are great for help to run games with the younger kids. Most importantly, have fun, it is a party after all.

Young child bowling

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