Anyone who’s ever been a parent and is now lucky enough to have children old enough organize their own parties will be reading this with a smug sense of, well, smugness. ‘I certainly am very lucky I don’t have to do this anymore,’ they will be thinking. And how right they are. Organising a child’s party is something of a menace – unfortunately, it’s not as simple as ferrying a load of eager children to a holiday park or theme park, and letting them be entertained by a long-suffering (but talented) teenager in a costume. These days, childrens’ parties have to have certain panache – here’s how to get the balance right…

Make sure that you’re on good terms with the other parents, and ask them about dietary requirements, and anything else about their children that they should know about. It’s also best to let them know what you’re planning – if, for example, you’re getting a clown involved, you may find out too late that one of the kids has a deep-rooted fear of the painted cretins. It’s always best to plan ahead. Talking to parents means that you can also find out about any allergies – but don’t base the entire party around one child. Too bad if one child hates chips – as long as he won’t suffer a life-threatening reaction to them, they’re on the table.

Don’t be scared to ask for help – you’re not a super-parent. If you feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of children that you’re dealing with, make sure that your partner is on board, and if any of the kids’ parents ask if you need help, take it. Not only will you reduce the risk of getting cross and stressed (thereby effectively wrecking the party), but you’ll probably get to make a few friends in the process. Especially handy if you’ve just moved to a new area.

You can help yourself by making sure that you limit the amount of sugar you feed the kids. Filling them up sandwiches and crisps is fine (we’re not going to get started on salt content. It’s a party), but beware of leaving bowls full of sweets and chocolate lying around. Energetic kids are great; kids who are semi-hysterical with sugar are not. Plus, there’s a greater chance that they’ll hurt themselves if they’re racing around.

Of course, a children’s party wouldn’t be a children’s party without a few incidents of tears, tantrums and vomiting. The tears and tantrums will probably start when the kids begin to get tired (fingers crossed this is around the 6pm mark), and are unavoidable, but the vomiting is. Keep an eye out whilst they’re eating – spot any potential gorgers, and take their plates away if their gluttony gets too much for you (and them). Also, avoid any party games that involve running around or jumping after they’ve eaten.

If there’s one child which always creates trouble (there’s always one, and you’ll instinctively the minute you meet it), it might be an idea to leave them off the guest list. You can’t please all the people all of the time, and it’s better to have one annoyed set of parents after you then hordes of raging parents that blame you for the mini-monster attacking their offspring. Plus, getting left out a few times might encourage this tiny terror to mend their ways. A short, sharp shock, as it were. And surely that’s more valuable than any invite to a party?