In Los Angeles kid’s birthday parties can be full-on productions that can take months to plan and cost thousands of dollars to put on, even when the guest are preschoolers. Whether you are a do-it-yourself party planner or you prefer a catered affair, you can host the perfect party, by just following a bit of expert advice to throw a party that is right for you and your child.
For those who don’t have the time and energy to plan a party, there are many children’s party venues in Los Angeles that do it all for parents, from the invitations and decorations, to the food, cake and drinks, to the all-important entertainment, and finally party favors.
Santa Monica’s Pacific Park is one favorite local venue for kid’s parties that offers a unique setting with amenities that appeal to both children and parents. The park offers built-in entertainment with thrill rides geared for little ones to adults as well as arcade games in an exciting beach-side outdoor atmosphere. The park offers seaside cabanas for rent, and they provide a dedicated attendant for each party, so that parents can actually enjoy the party with their children instead of playing host and worrying about preparing and serving food, refreshing drinks and cutting the cake.
Party packages begin at $27 per child and include an hour and a half in a semi-private cabana, custom invitations, unlimited rides all day for the kids, a personal visit from the park’s octopus mascot, Inkie, a special gift for the birthday child, decorations, set-up and clean up and all the kids meals from a menu of favorite party foods with unlimited beverages.
You can add on to packages, which go up to $55 per child, to include items such as popcorn, cotton candy and ice cream treats; plush Inkie-toy party favors; ride wristbands for adults; game bucks for the arcade; group and Ferris wheel photos; themed party decorations with tablecloths, napkins, plates, party hats, blowers and cups; and to make the birthday child feel like a real VIP, your child’s name can appear in lights on the famed Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel. A real party helper, you can bring your own cake, and with few restrictions, you may bring in outside catering for adult attendees. For details, go to ww.pacpark.com.
Party planning expert, Jeanne Benedict, best known for her program “Weekend Entertaining” on the Do It Yourself Network and who has offered party tips on “Live with Regis & Kelly” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” offers several ideas for your preschooler birthday bash.
“Hot dogs and pizza win big with this age,” says Benedict. Don’t forget healthy options as well. Fresh fruit or veggies such as carrots balance the sweets and keep the parents happy. Be sure to have plenty of water on hand, especially if it is a hot day.”
When everyone leaves, they can all receive a goody bag with items like candy, a clown nose, big sunglasses or super balls.
For a successful party from beginning to end, whether you plan it all yourself or let a caterer do the work, timing is a key factor.
“A party for preschool children should last two hours at most with a number of planned activities. Designate the first half hour as the arrival time, which allows the children to get acclimated to their surroundings,” says Benedict. “The next hour should be comprised of an organized activity or entertainment. The last half hour should be when the cake is served and goody bags are handed out before the party ends.”
You should consider not just the flow of events to keep the party going, but also the day of the week and the time of day for a party for young children, who can get cranky when they are off their schedules.
“Because parents often work during the week, weekend parties allow for the majority of invitees to attend,” says Benedict. “Another suggestion is a dinner-time party, which encourages the adults to socialize.”
With the proper planning, your child’s party will be a celebration to remember long after the candles are blown out, and you’ll be the one who takes the cake.