Can you guess what seems to be the most vexing challenge for parents when setting up a room in their village hall or community centre for a children’s party…?
Let’s help you overcome it and even offer a money saving tip that helps your birthday child feel really special into the bargain.
My extensive research, undertaken during my years of work as a children’s’ entertainer in Kent , shows that the supposedly simple act of laying out the table for party tea confuses, bemuses and baffles even the most prepared of parents.
The first rule of children’s party hall hire is to check where EVERYTHING is – from the tables & chairs through to the kettle and cups. Even things like keys to unlock the windows and the power switch are often hard to find. So ask the hall manager in advance.
Those however are minor challenges, compared to the drama I frequently observe when it comes to making the best use of the available tables at kiddies parties.
You want to have a place at the table for each child, you want the table to be decorated with a nice cloth in keeping with the party theme and you want all the kids to sit and eat together.
So how do you lay out tables most efficiently and how can you make sure you get enough tablecloths… Even better how could you save some money on your party budget?
The majority of village hall tables are oblong and sit 8 or 10 children.
Sit children on both sides of the table. So many times I see people only lay a place on one side, they soon run out of space and often tables. Kids are only small!
Use benches or smaller chairs if they are available. Placing full-sized adult chairs takes up more table space. If the hall you have chosen for your children’s party has a pre-school or nursery during the week, they’ll have some small chairs somewhere. Check with the hall manager.
If you need more than one table (which 90% of children’s parties do) place them end-to-end. Another common mistake I see is two oblong tables being placed with the long edges together. This actually only adds a couple of places and you could run out of tables.
You can’t keep adding tables indefinitely as you’ll run out of hall! So make them into a U shape, or even sprigs. Place the birthday child in the “middle” of the top table – just like the happy couple at a wedding… They’ll feel really special.
You want all the tables to look good so you invest a few pounds in some nice cloths made to match the birthday child’s favourite theme. But OOOPS! So often I see big gaps because people don’t buy enough cloths. Visit the hall and measure the tables, work out a layout before your children’s party – then check out the size of the cloths your child wants and divide one by the other. SIMPLE – but so often overlooked.
Now here’s a bonus idea I had some time ago which I’ve mentioned to many party mums who have used it, saving themselves some money…
Somewhat flying in the face of the advice I’ve just given, lay out the tables for the party in a U shape, place the birthday child at the top of the U just as in the picture – but leave the front edge of his table empty…
Place ONE decorative table cloth hanging down the front of the table where you’ve left out the children….
On the rest of the tables use cheaper plain cloths or none at all (the tables wipe clean very easily).
Now your child can sit like a Prince or Princess – you can take some great pictures from the front with no other children in the way.
A perfect memory of a perfect party!
I’ll be adding more tips from my experience as a party entertainer in Kent soon.