5 easy steps to planning a birthday party in your kid’s preschool

April 13, 2019
  • Plan well
    1 / 6 Plan well

    When Maureen Lim’s son, Xavier, asked her if he could celebrate his fourth birthday in school, she agreed. But she also asked herself how she could make it extra special. “All children love parties, so I was keen to do more than just bring a birthday cake to his school,” says the 38-year-old banker.

    “After talking to our son’s teacher, my husband and I decided to make a real event of it.” In addition to a large rainbow cake, she also prepared goodie bags, containing party hats, small toys and candy, decorated the classroom with balloons, and even catered the kids’ mid-morning snacks.

    All in, she spent about $300. She also wanted the party to be a surprise, so she had her son’s teacher gather the other kids to sing the birthday song and watch while he cut his cake. “The party lasted a good 45 minutes, and the children had a lot of fun going through the goodie bags and feasting on the snacks and cakes,” says Maureen.

    “We spent a small fortune, but Xavier was happy, so we consider it money well-spent.” Sharon Tham, also admits to spending a few hundred dollars on her daughter Sheena’s fourth birthday party at preschool. In addition to the cake, goodie bags and gifts for the children, party ware, decorations and a delicious lunch spread, the 36-year-old graphic designer also hired a magician and a balloon artist to entertain the class.

    “Logistically, it was easier to have the party in preschool rather than at our house,” says Sharon. “Having the teachers around to keep an eye on the kids was a bonus, too. But above all, Sheena had a lot of fun and it was nice to be able to make her friends happy.”

    A birthday party in preschool sounds easy, but if you want it to go off without a hitch, it’s important to plan well in advance. Cheryl Chan, senior principal from Learning Vision at Changi Business Park, suggests giving the preschool at least two weeks’ notice. She and the mums Young Parents interviewed share more of their best tips for a successful party:

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  • The cake
    2 / 6 The cake

    This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Or, if you want to take the healthier route, replace it with fresh fruit, cups of frozen yogurt, sandwiches, soft pretzels or muffins. Stack these on a large platter to resemble a large cake and stick a few candles in.

    Sheila Goh went with strawberry and chocolate cupcakes for her five-year old son Adam’s birthday party, mainly to avoid wastage. “Children can eat only so much,” says the 37-year-old drama teacher. “I didn’t want to buy a large cake and have to take the leftovers home or throw them away, so I bought one cupcake for each child and that worked out pretty well.”

    Related: How to make a dessert table for children

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  • The entertainment
    3 / 6 The entertainment

    Professional entertainers like face-painters, magicians, clowns or characters, can be expensive, says Cheryl. To cut costs, search online for games that the children can play themselves, and that require simple items like handkerchiefs, spoons or straws. 

    Don’t forget some kid-friendly music in the background so your child and his friends will feel inspired to dance and sing. Iris Lim, principal of Chiltern House Preschool, suggests fun, non-toxic temporary tattoos. All you need are the tattoos with instructions on the pack, a sponge, a small basin of water and, of course, steady hands.

    Money-saving tip: Classic games like “Pass the Parcel” and “Musical Chairs” cost nothing, but provide the right kind of entertainment for restless young children. 

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  • Decorations and party ware
    4 / 6 Decorations and party ware

    Buntings are great for jazzing up the classroom, but you don’t always have to stick to a theme. For instance, you may want to go with brightly coloured balloons and streamers instead of decorations that feature the words “Happy Birthday” on them.

    Or, if you’ve bought your child a Frozen character cake, you can extend the movie theme by providing blue and white plates, cups and buntings.

    Money-saving tip: Get the kids to make the decorations. “Instead of buying buntings and balloons, ask your child’s classmates to draw on coloured construction paper, and use these to spruce up the party area,” Sharon suggests.

    Related: Inside the extravagant birthday party for billionaire Peter Lim’s daughter and grandson

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  • Goodie bags
    5 / 6 Goodie bags

    Stay-at-home mum Janice Pang says that you don’t have to pack these to the brim for them to have an impact. The 35-year-old bought stationery, stickers and fun-size chocolate bars for her four-year-old twin daughters’ birthday goodie bags, and simply tied each package with a colourful ribbon.

    “It’s tempting to want to stuff the bags with sweets, toys and whatnot, but it’s stressful having to run all over town just to get these items, so just go with the simplest solution,” she says. 

    And make sure that every goodie bag contains the same type and number of items. “The last thing you want is for the kids to start arguing because one bag had a better goodie, or more goodies,” adds Janice. “Stick to items that both girls and boys will enjoy.”

    Get your kid involved in the goodie bag preparation, too, Iris suggests. Let him choose a few items and pack the bags. You can even get him to draw on the plain bags for a more personal touch, or paste stickers or paper cut-outs.

    Money-saving tip: Use plain brown or clear plastic sandwich bags to pack the goodies. “Forget the fancy wrappers and do it simply,” says Janice. “The packaging will end up in the trash, anyway.” 

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  • The food
    6 / 6 The food

    “Find out the class size and also check on the kids’ dietary requirements,” Cheryl suggests. “It is always best to ensure that the food is  from a halal source.”

    When Grace Yi, 38, was planning for her five-year-old daughter Kayla’s birthday party in school, she rang her classmates’ parents to find out what their kids couldn’t eat. Once she had a list of forbidden foods, she set about discussing the spread with the caterer. “Calling every parent was bothersome and time-consuming, but I’d rather be safe than sorry,” says the stay-at-home mum.

    “It was quite a substantial spread as we organised the party for a few classes, and we didn’t want any of the kids to fall ill.” Grace stuck to kid-friendly grub like marshmallow and strawberry kebabs, finger sandwiches, cupcakes and homemade cereal bars.

    While it’s your kid’s big day, it’s also important teach him about sharing joy with his friends; presents should not be the focus. “You may also want to give your child the gift of your time in the classroom,” Cheryl adds. 

    “Young children feel special when their parent comes to school. So, on your child’s birthday, read a story to the class, help the teacher with her planned activities, join the kids for outside time, or just hang out with your child and his classmates.”

    Related: Birthday party disasters: 8 common situations and how to solve them

    (Photos: 123RF.com) 

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