An Australian Birthday Party


Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

When you live in a new place, it can be difficult to understand how to do things the way people expect you to do them. How do you “do” a kids’ birthday party?

Well, the answer is of course you can plan a party many different ways. Here are some suggestions that will be acceptable to most families in Melbourne today.

If you just want your child to have fun with her/his friends, you can invite them to a play centre. It is normal for the person hosting the party to pay for it, so don’t invite the whole class unless you want to spend a lot of money! An acceptable number of children would be between 6 and 12.

When you have decided on a venue, you can send out the invitations. You can buy a pack of these in Target or Big W. It is normal to hand deliver them about two weeks beforehand, as you will need to have replies back so you can pay for the number of children attending. You may need to make a booking well in advance if the venue is popular. You also need to make it clear whether siblings are welcome; – you are in control of the number of children you want to have.

You can choose a menu at most play centres. Remember, healthy options like fruit are good, along with a few special party snacks, like sausage rolls, chips and/ or party pies. Make sure there is water to drink- it is acceptable to only offer water, especially since the children will be thirsty, after running around. It is customary to bring a birthday cake with you. You can either make or buy this beforehand. Most Mums will make an age- appropriate cake; there are plenty of websites to give you ideas for a lovely cake that is not too complicated to make. It is a good idea to avoid nuts in case one of the children is allergic.


Excited children generally do not eat a lot, and you are providing a snack, not a meal, so don’t go overboard! You are providing a party for the children, but you need to make it clear to parents if you expect one of them to be present, in case of accidents. If you do agree to have a child with no parent present you will need a phone contact in case of the unexpected. You can offer a tab* for coffee for the parents, but again, you need to specify that it is a coffee or tea option. I know of one parent who just said, “there is a tab for parents”, and she ended up with a huge bill ad parents ordered hot food and drinks.

The normal format at these play centres is the party child and family arrive early, and welcome each guest. The guest brings a birthday present (with card attached securely so the child knows who has given each gift), and the children go off and have a great play. Then they come and sit at a table towards the end of the session (usually 1-2 hours), and enjoy the food together, while the adults look on, and supervise.

Finally, the birthday child gives out a party bag for each child as they leave. These will have been prepared by the family beforehand, and usually contain a mix of lollies and party toys.

Of course, you can opt to have the party at home, but then you have to provide the entertainment. You also have to clean the house from top to bottom before and after the event. Much easier to pay the centre and get in the car and go home,

* tab = a running total at a cafe where guests can order drinks without paying. You then pay for the total before you leave.

How lovely to see the happy faces of innocent children having a fun time with their friends!


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