How to plan the best birthday party for your kids: For one, don’t stress over it

NEW YORK — A new year of birthday planning is upon us — but some assembly may be required. The average kid’s birthday party involves 16 guests, nine presents, and three hours of celebration. A recent survey of 2,000 parents with children between three and 12 finds 73 percent say their youngsters are not so easy to impress.

According to parents, most kids expect their favorite foods (67%) and clowns or costumed characters (56%) for their birthday party, more so than inflatable playsets (44%) or laser tag (43%). As for party themes, 81 percent of parents receive a specific request from their kids, with unicorns (46%) and video game-themed (41%) birthdays among kids’ popular picks.

Conducted by OnePoll and sponsored by Kinder Joy, the survey also reveals that the right guest list (58%), activities (58%), and treats (58%) are among parents’ absolute must-haves to make their kids’ birthday a success. Other essentials include goodie bags or party favors (49%).

Parents may catch a break when planning party games, though; it turns out freeze tag, charades, and treasure hunt have stood the test of time, with half of parents reporting their kids play these games on their birthday, and a similar amount saying they enjoyed these in their own childhood as well.

When asked to share one thing they had at their birthdays when they were growing up that they would like their kids to experience at parties today, respondents mentioned “board games,” “a DJ,” “a special speech,” “less technology, ” and having “grandparents and extended family” attend.

4 in 5 parents stress out about making birthdays ‘amazing’

At the end of the day, though, 78 percent of parents put a lot of pressure on themselves to make their kid’s birthday party as amazing as it can be. Changing palettes may prove to be a challenge — 84 percent of parents reported that their child has asked for different things at their birthday party at different ages, especially when it comes to food.

Party prep often goes beyond food and decor. More than two-thirds (68%) of parents usually create or hand out goodie bags for their child’s parties.

“With so many unpredictable factors, from the weather to unplanned guests, making your kid’s birthday memorable can be both fun and stressful,” says a spokesperson for Kinder Joy in a statement. “While kids’ tastes may change over the years, a well-stocked goodie bag is one party staple that is sure to be a hit regardless of age.”

Over eight in 10 parents (82%) say kids’ birthday parties are a lot different now than when they were growing up. Namely, 61 percent think the celebrations and decor have gotten more over-the-top, and 55 percent noted the cake is usually store-bought rather than homemade.

Two things that probably haven’t changed — needing more time to prepare for the birthday party and keeping it affordable, both of which stress out 55 percent of parents.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 parents of kids ages 3–12 who have birthday parties was commissioned by Kinder Joy between Nov. 2 and Nov. 9, 2022. It was conducted by a market research company OnePollwhose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (APOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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