by Imogen Clyde
Planning kids’ parties gets easier as they get older: Once they hit their tweens, you don’t have to invite their whole class along, and you can pretty much get away with a movie (plus hot dogs and popcorn) for a couple of besties. But for younger kids, parties need to be more elaborate – and there’s more competition involved – so it’s worth thinking seriously about what you want to achieve and all the exciting alternatives on offer.
As any parent will tell you, the basic elements that need to come together are the supplies, the venue and the refreshments (including the all-important birthday cake). Get these worked out well in advance and you should be able to cheat your way to a fun, relatively hassle-free birthday bash.
The first thing you, or rather the birthday boy or girl needs to decide on is the theme. Go with unicorns, pirates, princesses, or minions… whatever’s on their radar at the time. The theme is a big deal because it will dictate the look of the party, of everything from the invitations to the cake.
For the sake of your time and sanity – not to mention the environment – avoid paper invitations. Choosing an electronic invitation service, such as Paperless Post, keeps the process straightforward and makes your guest list easy to manage digitally. Get the invitations sent out at least a month in advance to avoid disappointment.
If you follow this writer’s advice you won’t be needing much in the way of party decorations but you will need basic supplies – balloons and those all-important take-home party bags. For these, look no further than the dedicated Partytime shop-in-shop at Bookazine in DB Plaza. You’ll find a quality range in cool colours and of-the-minute themes.
And about the party bags. What do you put inside them? You can relate the contents to the party theme (as long as it’s unisex – boys won’t thank you for a princess brooch) or you can make up two sets of bags, one for the boys and one for the girls. But one-bag-fits-all is the best (easiest) way to go. Young partygoers will thank you for fun treats like bubble wands, whoopee cushions and, of course, slime.
Never host a children’s party at home; it’s simply too big of an ask. Your living room will get wrecked, and you’ll find yourself running around organising games, breaking up fights and laying out food, while the other mummies relax in the corner drinking your Prosecco.
The best bet, unless yours is a winter or typhoon-season baby, is to take the party outdoors. This way, the kids will be able to let off steam without destroying your home and you’ll find you have a lot less to do – lay on sunscreen and bug spray and you’re good to go. If you don’t have a garden, check in with your village management office to see if your local playground is available for hire, or simply hit up Tai Pak Wan.
Water parties always hit the spot and they’re incredibly easy to organise. Ask invitees to bring spare clothes and a towel, fill a few large storage bins with water and then allocate your guests into teams. Timed wet-sponge relay races, water balloon fights and squirt battles are all sure-fire crowd-pleasers that can easily be refereed by a parent.
If you can afford to add on a bouncy castle, do it! Kids never get tired of inflatables and they’ll play on them for hours. Talk to South Lantau resident Ben White of Jumping Castles. His castles all feature a jump area and a slide of some sort and they come in small, medium and large sizes – the small ones suited for children as young as two and the largest good for kids up to 12.
All you need for Ben to set up an inflatable is a reasonably level area – indoors or out. For added fun, he can also supply a helium-balloon kit that includes a disposable, recyclable helium tank and 30 balloons.
The main event
Kid’s parties today aren’t the jelly-and-ice-cream sit-down affairs many of us remember, so don’t feel you need to provide a full-on spread. If you’re heading to the beach, or any venue where food is not provided, a good option is to present the food in individual party boxes. Keep things simple and cute, you only need a few items in each box – a cheese straw, a homemade sandwich, some crisps/ grapes, a small yoghurt and plastic spoon, a fairy cake, a pretty napkin and a paper hat.
Taking it easy with the snacks frees you up to go big on the main event – the birthday cake, everyone’s favourite part of a party. Whether you’re looking for a 2D Bob the Builder or a 3D mermaid on a rock, bakeries like Complete Deelite and Sweet Secrets in Central can whip up the requisite confection to match any party theme.
Of course, inch-thick icing can transform even the sweetest young partygoers into sugar-crazed fiends, so consider a ‘naked’ cake – where the sides remain un-iced. It’s worth noting too that Sweet Secrets offers a full range of vegan cakes that are gluten-, nut- and refined sugar-free. These ‘free-from’ cakes are healthy and wholesome, and look every bit as good as the regular ones.
Taking it to the next level
There’s no doubt that children expect a lot from their parties and parents are always under pressure to provide the best bash ever. But don’t worry. If all your child’s friends have already had an outdoor party (with an inflatable), there are plenty of other options to consider.
How about an ice-skating party? At The Rink at Elements in Tsim Sha Tsui, there’s fun to be had for kids of all ages, and cute penguins guide the less steady partygoers across the ice. If a pony party fits the bill, Tuen Mun Public Riding School in the New Territories offers supervised rides for children. You can also bring along your own birthday cake and drinks. Or check out the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel – girls get to dress up in Disney Princess costumes and have their photos taken.
Even closer to home, EpicLand in DB North Plaza is a great one-stop party option catering for groups of 10 to 50 plus. A typical party package at the 14,000-square- foot indoor entertainment centre includes party invites and banners, two hours use of a private function room and all-day access to the play zones. There is also face- painting and tattoos for each child, plus a photo.
For something entirely different, DB resident Agnes Chin, who runs Complete Deelite in Central with her daughter Jacinta, offers baking parties. A typical party will see children aged four and up decorate pre-baked cookies or cupcakes and then make and decorate lollipop-style cake pops.
So there you have it; throwing a successful kid’s party isn’t child’s play but it’s… doable. Just be sure to plan ahead and pull out all the stops – you don’t want to be known as the parent who threw the boring birthday bash.
Tags: kids, party, planning, venue