Playtime Parties!

Guest Post from Hannah Davey of Oxfordshire, England
Kids’ parties can be a bit of a mind-boggling experience. How many layers are you supposed to put on the pass-the-parcel*?  How many toys are you supposed to put in their party bags?  Would they like a clown, or will they think I’m a clown for inviting him?  Am I supposed to invent all the games, or do I leave them to it?  It’s OK to give the kids fizzy drinks and sweets, right?  Or will I get complaints from the parents when their kids fly home via a whirlwind of excitable E-Numbers*…?

Although you may have to freestyle the answers to most of these questions, there is one thing that you don’t need to worry about quite as much:  the entertainment.  This seems like the most important aspect of organising a party, but you’ll be surprised at how much the kids can actually entertain themselves.  

When kids get together, especially if there is a whole flock of them, they are amazing at inventing games that simply evolve from the use of their imaginations.  As soon as one child starts pretending he’s a horse, plenty of others will join him, for example.  This is the beauty of being a child, nothing needs to make much sense, and copying each other seems to be their favourite thing.  Children are absolutely brilliant at creating fun adventures for themselves, and don’t need much encouragement at all.

However, having a few things to help the kids settle in and to get the party started is always useful.  For lots of children, a party isn’t a party without party bags, so I thought why not make a whole activity out of this phenomenon?!  Rather than handing out pre-made ones at the end, gift bags can spark lots of activities for the kids to take part in together.  

By letting the children create their own party bags, they were completely occupied, while having lots of fun as a group.  I simply laid out a few different crafts on a table, such as bracelet making sets, badge-making sets, or any decorate-your-own sets that I could find, as well as a couple of trays with pre-made gifts inside, and then the kids got stuck in!  To prevent any arguments or paddies*, it’s best to decide on a number of gifts they’re allowed to have, and tell them this at the beginning.  Also, make sure that the bags you give them are small enough to hold just a few different toys, and then they have to be a bit sensible and realistic about their collection!  This is a brilliant activity for indoors or out; if you’re lucky enough to have a warm and sunny day like we did, hosting this activity in the garden is a huge bonus as the mess doesn’t matter quite as much!

Something that has also proved to be hugely successful, yet very hassle-free, is our play-house.  I work for a children’s toy company, so I had a handy opportunity to get my hands on a playhouse for the kids.  We bought it a long time ago, and we thought it would just keep them occupied in the garden for a few hours at a time, but it’s proved to be a huge attraction at their parties, too.  It actually has a slide and steps, so it functions as the perfect adventure zone for a few children at a time.  It’s lovely seeing them all play together, and it makes it easy for me because it involves no effort at all!  I didn’t realise they could invent so many different games with the use of a playhouse; last week it was a castle, apparently.

These simple activities (combined with their wonderful imaginations), made the party so simple and easy but so much fun for them all. I feel quite prepared for the next one, in fact!

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Hannah Davey resides in the lovely, but rainy Oxfordshire.  She loves creating and writing about children’s entertainment.  She works for a friendly, family-run company at the Big Game Hunters Playhouse Shop.

* For the U.S. readers, here are Hannah’s explanations for a couple terms you may not have been familiar with:  

  • Pass-the-parcel is a game where you wrap up a gift, and then you put another layer of wrapping paper on that with another gift inside – the idea is that you have lots of different layers with little gifts inside, and the children sit in a circle and pass it around while the music is on, and then someone who’s not playing (usually mummy/daddy!) stops the music randomly now and again, and whoever is holding the parcel at that moment opens a layer and gets the little gift from inside… this goes on until someone is left with the final gift from the middle which is usually the best gift.
  • E-numbers are artificial food additives, and are usually known to make children quite hyper!
  • paddy is a temper-tantrum.  


  1. Brilliant post! Thanks so much for sharing!