Image by ToniVC via Flickr
So you’ve decided to plan a birthday party for your child’s special day.
You’ve decided on the date, chosen a theme and decided how many children to invite.
Have you ever considered the importance of the time that you host the party and how it may impact on how the party is scheduled? Have you ever considered the timing of the eating session and how that impacts on the behaviour of the children at the party?
I hope to help break things down for you in this post so you can make clear informed choices for your child’s next birthday party , to make it the best party it can possibly be.
Traditional tea time
From 3pm up until 6pm
The traditional tea time party is usually the first choice of most people, commonly starting at 3pm and ending at 5pm or thereabouts.
If this is your first choice time slot, do remember if you are going to book an entertainer and /or a venue do book well in advance to ensure that you manage to secure that time slot. It may be the first choice of many other parents hosting a party that day too.
At a Diane’s Puppet’s party, I’ve found that the most successful schedule is to have 45 minutes to an hour’s entertainment before having tea, leaving the thirty minutes tea time at the traditional hour of 4pm. This leaves thirty minutes at the end ( I usually perform a puppet show in a booth at this point) sending the children home, happy and fully partied out at 5pm.
This timing works well on weekends or during holidays when school turnout isn’t an issue or when there aren’t too many younger siblings who rely on afternoon naps.
Midweek parties are best held after 4pm, allowing children to get to the party immediately after school.
Do remember that the children will be coming to the party a little tired and ravenous after a long school day, so it will work best for all to feed them first. Allow 15 minutes for them to arrive / change out of school clothes and then sit them down to have something to eat. Maybe leave the cake and sweets until later on in the party to avoid the inevitable sugar rush.
At a Diane’s Puppets Party I often face paint during the eating time to avoid the boring queuing up.
I'm a bunny wabbit
If your first choice tea time slot has already been booked when you call up your entertainer, have you ever considered having a lunch time party?
Lunchtime Parties ( 11-1pm) ( or 10.30am-12.30)
Many of my clients have become firm fans of the lunchtime party once they have tried it. This party time slot is fantastic for those parents who are organising a party for a child with younger siblings as it doesn’t clash with nap times, allowing the younger siblings to be able to enjoy the party too. Your birthday child doesn’t have to nag you all morning about when their party is as the party begins when they are fresh and ready and full of excitement.
One of the biggest benefits of hosting a lunchtime party is that there is very little wastage when it comes to the eating time. Instead of throwing away a mountain of disregarded sandwiches after a tea party, why not prepare a simple hot dish of pasta or shepherds pie and watch the children eat it all up!
This can be very cost-effective too and is also much less labour intensive to prepare than the traditional snack foods of tea time.
Children are always hungry at lunch time , I’ve never seen food go to waste at a lunch time party.
At a Diane’s Puppets party, I usually suggest scheduling the eating time at 12 noon when the children will be good and hungry and really ready to wolf down their food like the Big Bad Wolf!
The children go home after a puppet show that finishes at 1pm leaving you with the rest of the day to put up your feet and relax.
The birthday child will appreciate having the afternoon to leisurely tear open their presents when they’re not too tired to enjoy the experience.
Times to avoid
There are times that clients sometimes request parties that cut right across tea and lunchtime.
Parties that are held between 1-3 pm or 2-4 pm are really awkward in so many ways.
From an entertainer’s perspective, parties held at these times limit the day to only one party as there is no leeway to be able to fit in another party in the day, given the travel and change over times needed. For an entertainer this doesn’t make good business sense nor does it help our other clients. We like to try to be available to as many clients as possible, we hate having to turn down customers and disappoint our young clients.
From the guests perspective, these times straddle eating times, making it awkward to know when to feed children. They’re both straight after lunch but before tea , so unless you are planning having a party that doesn’t really entail feeding the children, this isn’t ideal. The eating time at a party isn’t just about feeding, it creates a good break that punctuates the party. It is very hard to maintain concentration for two hours straight even for an adult, let alone a small excitable child.
Also remember that your guests may have other parties to go to, and if your party straddles that awkward time zone, your party may be the one that is not attended.
Ultimately, the client is king. We entertainers want to help our clients to have the best party experience they can possibly have.
I hope this information has helped you make an informed choice as to which party time would suit you and your child’s party needs the best.
Hope to see you at a birthday party soon!