Take a dozen five-year-olds, feed them cake and ice cream, blindfold them, spin them until they're dizzy and then turn them loose with large sticks in their hands. Fun, right? And how could a party not include the beloved piñata?
A good rule of thumb for party planning is to limit the number of guests to the birthday child's age. Think about it — it's a lot easier to control four four-year-olds than it is
to corral 20 of them.
By kindergarten or first grade, however, you may need to invite your child's entire class. You can limit the guests to only your child's gender to keep the numbers more manageable. If you have to invite everyone, make sure you'll have ample supervision. You can hire a few teens to help out, or simply require parents to stick around — write "No Dropoffs" on your invitation to make the rules clear.
To keep the party from turning into a free-for-all where kids run wild, plan your activities carefully. Make sure you know what the kids will be doing for each fifteen minute block of time.
Alternate seated activities with more active ones so that kids have a chance to move around and to calm down again.
Tempting as it might be to turn a group of kids loose in the backyard, aim for more structured activities instead. Games like Mother May I, Red Rover, and Duck, Duck, Goose (updated to Princess, Princess, Queen or Truck, Truck, Car, or whatever else your kids enjoy) let kids have fun and work out their energy without getting crazy. An age-appropriate obstacle course is also a great way to let kids explore in a safe environment.
Avoid serving major allergens such as peanuts or choking hazards like hot dogs. Don't put out snacks for grazing with children under age four — make sure they're sitting at the table when
Have the kids wash their hands before eating and make sure that food has been properly stored before serving it.
So how can you include the perennial party favorite in a safe way? Look for a pull-string piñata — available at Target and other major retailers. Gather all the kids together and
give each one a pull string to hold (Tip: Secure some extra pull strings before the party if you have a large guest list) and have everyone pull on the count of three. The candy will spill out, and
the kids will still have fun collecting — and devouring — it.
Party safety isn't hard to handle. A few simple rules will ensure that everyone has fun — and many happy returns.
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