** Please note this page is being edited and will look much more inviting once finished.
Some General Thoughts
Throwing your little ones’ birthday party is usually both exciting and exhausting. For my daughter’s first two birthdays, we held the parties at home. After all, their first birthday in particular really is for the parents, family and close friends.
After my daughter’s second birthday celebration at home when one of my friends told me she had rescued my playroom wall from a child who was hitting it with a bus and making dents on it I thought it was time to do something outside of the house for the next few years. You will get to a point when you feel it is fine to do it at home again, but until then, here are some tips.
One general thought: Many children become overwhelmed at their own parties and while they might be having an absolute ball at other children’s birthday parties, they might not enjoy their own. This can happen at the party or just when everyone sings Happy Birthday to them. Our nanny always used to practice singing Happy Birthday with our daughter when she was really little. Funnily enough, my daughter who is an absolute social butterfly, who loved all her birthday parties and never had a bad reaction, suddenly got very self-conscious when presented with the cake and being sung happy birthday to for her fourth birthday party. For some reason she didn’t like it and since then she has not wanted to celebrate her birthday. She told me she doesn’t like to be the centre of attention.
Gifts & Invitations
KinderGifts is a great initiative that helps you manage your invitations as well as presents for your child and you can raise money for charities at the same time.
Since my daughter was 5 years old, we have always asked for a donation to a chosen charity instead of presents. It started when one of her friends at school needed to raise money towards a very specific treatment for neuroblastoma cancer. My daughter wanted to help ‘buy her medicine’ – it was her idea. I was so proud of her and ever since then we have continued doing that and are now doing the same with our son. I felt it was a good way of introducing my children to the concept of giving back. KinderGifts makes this a very easy thing to do.
If your child is in nursery school or school the custom here is that you invite everyone in your child’s class.
Birthday Party Tips for Various Ages – Some Ideas from My Own Children and Their Friends
This is definitely the birthday party for the parents! We had ours at home and invited our friends as well as our daughter’s little ones.
The lovely and energetic Anita of Caterpillar Music is a perfect entertainer for this age group.
For my daughter’s third birthday, and for the majority of her friends, this party was celebrated at Rascals Softplay in Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre followed by food and cake in the cafe across from the reception area. We have also been to some parties at Treetops Softplay in Talacre Community Sports Centre in Kentish Town. Doing soft play at this age is popular as children like to run around and are mostly big enough that they can cope with climbing etc themselves. Please note these venues tend to book up months in advance and that you need to book the soft play and cafe separately at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre.
4th & 5th Birthday
6th & 7th Birthday
For my daughter’s 6th birthday party, it was all about bowling. We hired the King Pin Suite at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes and everyone loved it! It was so fantastic that my husband and I threw a big adult party there ourselves.
The A Academy do fantastic football parties. My son had a blast at his football party with The A Academy.
8th Birthday Parties
Many of the above suggestions tend to still be popular with this age group as are rock-climbing, sleep-over and cinema parties. Odeon and Vue do them, but the most popular ones I have come across are by Everyman Cinema.
From age 8+ it seems children mostly want to do small parties like sleepover ones or taking their closest friends to the cinema.
There are quite a few church halls you can hire. Locally, most church halls like St Mark’s Church and Church of Our Lady are available to hire, but worth bearing in mind that noise levels become almost unbearable with just a few children and adults there (and this is before any potential entertainment has started) and especially since some children really don’t do well with noisy environments. Some pubsandrestaurants have function rooms you can hire.
Below are some other local venues.
b_together on St John’s Wood High Street are worth checking with.
The lovely Crocker’s Folly here in St John’s Wood do fabulous food and you can also throw parties there. You would have to get your own entertainer and if you want a specific cake, you have to organise that too, but that is easy. Everything else, they can do for you.
Pizza Express on Abbey Road offers private rooms upstairs and is a popular venue.
Food & Cakes
Cool Kids Table are able to cater for parties.
Unico has a variety of food (sweet and savoury) to help you with catering.
Belsize Cake Shop is run by one of my very good friends. She makes not just beautiful cakes – they are works of art – but also delicious ones.
Csilla of Fairy Godmother’s Cakery has baked for me since 2015. She has created cakes for both adults and children.
One of our mums, Ruchi of Ruchi’s Artisanal Bakes, makes wonderful cakes.
Decorations & Event Planning
Rossa of Rossa Events is one of our mums and she creates beautiful stories and scenes for parties.
Jeanette Rauch Photography does a wide array of shoots including birthdays. She has done a lot of work for me including many of the official photos for the NW8-mums’ website.
Waldemar Zimny is a London based photographer with 20 years of experience covering all types of photography works from big to small. He has done event photos for NW8-mums too. Please contact Waldemar to discuss a package that best suits you and your budget.