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Throwing A Kids Birthday Party In The Age Of Coronavirus

Posted by B. Appleby on Mar 22, 2020

Reduced numbers for kids birthday parties due to CoronavirusCelebrating in a time of social distancing can be a challenge. Celebrating on a tight budget can be downright tough. But letting your little one’s birthday pass without a party to remember? Impossible!

With new restrictions on non-essential indoor gatherings (since when is a party non-essential?) for less than 10 people on the cards due to the Coronavirus, this can be a blessing in disguise for a small kids birthday party. Firstly, it cuts the budget, usually by 75% or more. As a result, a much smaller space is required which in turn requires a lot less time and expense to decorate.

Our grandparents often reminisce about how they found fun and celebrated during the Great Depression, and it is equally as important to create memories for your children that last a lifetime, no matter how tough times are. Yes, most of the parties I throw are larger affairs, but talking from experience, kids don’t remember the size of the party, they remember the fun.

So with that in mind, here’s an A-Z guide on how to throw the perfect little kids party.

Your Party Space

For a kids party this size, you only need to decorate one room, preferably the one that opens out onto your garden. Kids birthday parties ebb and flow from indoors to outdoors over the duration so you want to make transit easy. And if you need a quick break to clean up a spill, you can shut the kids outside for a few minutes.

I always recommend two trestle tables if space allows, or one table and the kitchen bench if you are using your kitchen/living area for the party. You always want to separate your drink station from your food station. If drinks get tipped over on a drinks station, it’s no big deal, but if it gets tipped on the food station it can ruin a lot of your hard work. If your party cups and straws match your theme perfectly and would look better on the food station, that’s OK - just present them empty so the kids have to take the cup off that table and over to the drinks.

For a younger child’s party, you’re also going to want to have a sit-down table for when the kids gather to eat. Usually just arranging some existing kids furniture will suffice.

The Birthday Party Food

For 10 people, you expect you and your other half to be on hand but not grandparents due to Coronavirus precautions. So that means 7 kids and the birthday girl or boy. Catering for 8 small bellies is a cinch.

The kids will barely touch the food for the first half-hour as they run around enjoying each other’s company. But then they’ll be ready to eat. Let’s look at your dessert table first which, like it or not, kids will attack first before sitting down to a little birthday feast.

The easiest and cheapest food you can add to your dessert table that has the greatest visual impact is a bowl of jelly. This is one food-stuff that has not been wiped out at the supermarket over the past few weeks. So grab the largest clear bowl you have and get that made and in the fridge the night before. Your child can help with this - we used to do this with our grandmother every Friday night, and the gradual stirring and dissolving of the sugary crystals in the boiling water was a fond, therapeutic memory.

Popcorn Boxes suit small kids parties due to Coronavirus restrictions.You then want items that have both visual impact as well as height. Dessert tables tend to be quite flat in appearance so anything with height will create visual impact. Firstly, I recommend personalised popcorn boxes with single serve bags of popcorn that are only opened when required. The boxes stand a good 10-12 cm tall and popcorn is dirt-cheap (ever wonder why cinemas sell it?).

Secondly, two clusters of colourful personalised lollipops stood into large tumblers also looks spectacular.

Thirdly, the birthday cake should take centre stage, no matter how well-decorated it is. Elevating the cake is vital. If you don’t have any ready-made risers, then gift wrapping a wine box is perfectly fine but make sure you tape it up nice and tight so it doesn’t collapse. Adding tall candles will also add valuable height.

Now that you have added all of this vertical styling, you can now add a few lower profile items to complete the table. A dozen chocolate bars split into two rows and arranged on narrow rectangular white plates look fantastic and fills up space quickly – these will be your farewell party favours if you prefer something more elegant than lolly bags, although lolly bags can be dressed up to look nice too.

Finally, two clear small bowls to hold some personalised mini chocolates will look fabulous and are also very inexpensive.

Pizza is perfect for little kids birthday parties

Now, for the party meal itself, be it lunch or dinner, keep it simple. And by simple, I mean pizza.

If you want to support a local business in these tough times, then by all means just order a family size from the local pizza place. 

Otherwise, Costco has some great large frozen pizzas for those on a tighter budget, as long as the panic buying of late has not wiped their stock out.

While you could just dish out a slice each, you can actually dress the pizza up by using a cookie cutter to cut circles out of the pizza (to this end, you can ask the pizzeria to not slice the pizza).

If you have time, making tiny pizza boxes for each pizza with a personalised label on each is super cute.

Don’t think that this won’t be enough food. There’s simply no point planning a 3-course meal. This little sit-down will only last 10-15 minutes at best before they’re off again.

The Party Decorations – Less Is More

Balloon garlands - The signature item for your Covid-19 affected kids birthday partyAlthough the dessert table will be a hugely impressive sight, there is one more thing I would add to create a super-impressive, single-room party space. A balloon garland!

These take about 1-2 hours to put together and can be hard work, but the sea of colour they add is hard to beat. And they take up a whole wall!

Now, there’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on pre-designed garlands that can be purchased at most party supply websites. 

The only thing you need is balloon garland tape (just a couple of bucks on eBay) and 60-100 balloons in your chosen colour scheme. While different sized balloons are a nice touch, they’re not critical. I recommend just hitting google images and finding a design you like to emulate - like this one!

The Entertainment

This is an optional extra, but really creates a memorable day for all.

In our house, my wife is usually in charge of the food and my job is the entertainment. You don’t need to be an actor or even an extrovert to do this, and you certainly don’t have to hire a professional. Putting together a costume can be as simple as wearing a hat, or you can go the whole hog and make your own costume from items around the house, like Steve Martin in Parenthood.

To plan your entertainment, all you need is a story with 2-3 tasks that the kids have to complete to reach a happy ending. Without going into specific themes, you can include a decorating task, a colouring task, a dancing task, a treasure hunting task – the list is endless. Just think of everything that kids like to do and wrap it up into your little story. The kids will love it. And because you only have 7-8 kids it’s much easier to give each child the attention they deserve.

Finally, I always recommend the quickest of emu-bob sessions as part of your entertainment to get the kids to run around and clean up. This saves us hours in clean up later and you would be surprised how much kids love pitching in to help out.

The Birthday Party Itself

If you have thrown or attended a kid’s party before, then you know that almost every parent will walk their child in and then farewell their child. For this small party, this is a good thing. You can get that all important “Wow!” from a parent to appreciate your hard work (and who doesn’t like a little appreciation?) before they head off.

Parties of 2 to 2.5 hours is plenty long enough for young kids – enough time to create memories for you and for them that will last forever. Allow 30 minutes to an hour for them to run around (an hour if you don’t have any entertainment planned), 45 minutes for the entertainment, 15 minutes for lunch and then another 15 minutes for final play.

When parents start arriving to collect their kids, direct the kids to the dessert table to grab their chocolate bars, lolly bags and more before scooting out the door.

Then sit back and savour the feeling of throwing the perfect little party in the toughest of times.

A few final thoughts

Below are a few further considerations for throwing a kids party during the Covid-19 crisis.

I have a sore throat or cough on the day of the party. Should I cancel?

Yes. As much as it may break your heart, you need to uphold your civic duty and stop the potential spread of the Coronavirus.

What if you or your partner test positive to Covid-19 after the party?

You need to contact each parent as a priority. Fortunately, it is only 7-8 phone calls but you need to make them. Don’t worry about the reaction you might get. Most people will be understanding as it is usually impossible to know you have the virus in the first few days of infection. Even if you encounter a grumpy parent, you’re still doing the right thing.

What if there is a lockdown? Should I still have the party?

No, not during the lockdown, but as soon as restrictions are lifted, you’ll be ready to go.

Can the kids catch the Coronavirus from each other?

Yes, but in many cases show much milder symptoms than adults. has an excellent article on children and Coronavirus.