Kids’ parties: go big or go home!

Published Mar 19, 2017


Let's go for Frozen – she’s completely obsessed! No wait, she’s changed her mind. It’s all about the Avengers now so let’s get that sorted out as soon as possible.

Navigating through the world of birthday parties for kids these days requires that you not only have an event-planning background but a PHD in Disney and Marvel.

It’s tiring work that doesn’t stop until the day of the party. And even then, sitting on your laurels and waiting for the day to unfold is the last thing on your mind.

If you have a limitless budget and consider yourself creatively-challenged, it’s a good idea to bring in a party planner. An expert brings a new perspective and their know-how and connections can get you access to decor and venues not normally reserved for outsiders.

When it comes to what’s on trend, Jason Selby from Chalk Events – a bespoke kiddie party event-planning company – says it’s hard to pinpoint trends because they are always evolving. But he does go as far as saying that the use of pastel colours is always a winner.

This year it’s all about class. Gone are the over-the-top cartoon characters and bright colours. “Because of this, we find ourselves trying to balance the decor between what the parents want and what the kids want,” said Selby.

Picture: Hopscotch Photography

He also says choosing a venue sets the tone for the party. It’s all about children enjoying themselves in natural environments, while the parents relax.

One of the venues Chalk Events works with is Chalkwood House. “The founder built the school from the ground up and she has created one of the most stunning environments I’ve ever seen for children. It’s safe, has great facilities and is beautiful”, he says.

But the work of a party planner doesn’t end there. Reality TV shows like Super Sweet 16 shows us how far some are willing to push the envelope when it comes to demands – and those are just the parents. Selby says they’ve had some weird requests. “One of our clients requested their one-year-old be brought into the venue on a horse and carriage.” And yes, he says, his company did deliver.

In terms of costs, the sky is the limit, but Selbyemphasises that a memorable experience can be created for those working with a budget.

What if you don’t have the luxury of using a party planner? Natascha Miller, owner of Kiki & Koko Events, says it’s not impossible to plan a party on a tight budget.

“The key is to start early. Buy a few things like sweets and decor every month when you do your groceries. Then it’s spread out over a few months and you don’t feel the pinch,” she said.

She suggests that when it comes to venues, do your research and choose one that only charges for catering, “Start the search early as those venues are booked out first.”

Just do it yourself!

It’s every little boy’s dream to be a cowboy, and Sasha Botha made that dream a reality when planning Mica’s fourth birthday party.

Taking her inspiration from pattern books and the internet, she used her sewing expertise and eye for detail to create a special celebration.

“Mica’s teepees, matching, outfit, bunting, tablecloths, and hobby horses were all sewn by myself to ensure that it was unique.

“Also it’s something different for the kids’ imaginations to experience and get excited about.”

Pastel colours are always a winner. 

Every birthday boy needs a cake, and Mica’s was no exception – a colourful two-tiered design made by Belle patisserie in Johannesburg.

Sasha added extra touches with lanterns, cowboy hats, scarves and signs for an authentic look while still maintaining a playful edge.

What R5 000 gets

Bugz Playpark in the Western Cape hosts themed birthday parties.

They do the setup, decor and catering.

The park has an in-house party planner that makes sure everything goes according to plan.

Children get to choose from 20 themes, but the most popular are their cooking and makeover parties. Costs range from R185 to R230 a child which include venue hire, rides, decor, party packs, lunch and juice.

What R5 000+ gets

Heatherbelle’s Cafe in Durban North is an exclusive kiddie party venue.

There’s an indoor and outdoor play area and the venue supplies everything, from play equipment to decor.

A standard party page ranges from R1 000 to R2 000.

Optional extras, including a two-tiered birthday cake, jumping castle and draped gazebo, comes to about R3 000, excluding venue hire.

Jackpot! R20 000+

Black Olive Weddings & Events specialises in couture kids’ parties. Based in Northcliff, Johannesburg, the venue overlooks the city skyline and offers a full-house party service. Prices are quoted when dealing directly with the company.

Useful info:

Chalk Events:

Kiki & Koko Events: [email protected]

How to throw a WOW kid's birthday party

By Leandre Abvajee, events director

Gone are the days where a simple store bought cake and a few packets of chips will suffice with the cousins and siblings. Today’s generation of kids are so savvy, that as a planner I am able to sit down with a six-year-old and get a full brief in terms of "what I want, how I want it and when I want it" - right to the nitty gritty of colours, theme, gifts, cake and entertainment.

How much will an over-the-top soiree cost you nowadays is the pending question. In all honesty how, far parents go to throw their kid a  party of a lifetime depends on how far they are prepared to dip into their university savings accounts.

First and foremost the perfect venue is the foundation of this milestone event. Parents are gravitating more towards high end, luxury venues, club houses and niche kids party venues with a difference. The zoo, your backyard garden or the animal farm down the road is not high on the priority list of our high end clientele.

Some of these parties have the checklist of a high end wedding. We're talking about gorgeous decor, customised stationary, flowers, arrival drinks, bespoke candy bars, designer cakes, confectionery and everything else in-between. 

Food and catering is another costly expense and can run into thousands of rands depending on the choice of menu. Hot dogs and pizzas are also slowly starting to make an exit. Extravagant high tea treats, and customised foods  to match a specific theme are a big trend. The birthday cake needs an Instagram feed for itself - these cakes have to be Pinterest worthy, all over-the-top pieces of edible art.

Entertainment at a lavish kids party will also set you back a fine penny.  A jumping castle and some face paint will no longer suffice. Think along the lines of professional balloon artists that sculpt balloons into desired items, fun fair rides, crafts and kids workshops, full beauty and spa treatments, known DJs.

Party favours have taken on a personality of their own. A bag stuffed with trinkets and sweets is no longer on the scene. The trend is to go with a quality single, personalised gift instead.

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