Party Guide

Updated for 2024

Your child’s birthday - it’s the one day out of the 365 that is extra special to you and your child, so naturally, you want to make it a memorable day!

To help you decide what to do for your child’s party, what party treats to buy or what entertainer, venue or local party supplier to use for your children's party in Dorset we’ve added some top tips for you here...




So, what are the latest Children's Party Trends?

Science and Slime Parties
Science and Slime parties engage young minds with a combination of thrilling demonstrations, wacky experiments and plenty of hands-on activities. Many science party companies run age-related, interactive games so children can concoct exciting things such as gooey DIY slime, amazing bubbles and colour-changing potions. Enormous fun and educational too.


LEGO / Plastic Block Construction Block Parties
The ever-popular construction toy provides a perfect birthday party theme for curious and creative children of all ages. If your child has a reasonably sized stash themselves then you may not even need to buy any more blocks. Should you want to purchase more supplies, however, stores such as Wilko have their own LEGO-compatible blocks that can be used. Games and activities can include block vehicle building and racing, scavenger hunts and tower building amongst many other ideas. Check out our LEGO ideas Pinterest board.

Swimming Pool Parties
A number of swimming pools across the region, particularly smaller and private ones will offer the opportunity for small groups to hire the facilities and equipment for the exclusive use of partygoers. These will often come with allocated sanitised changing facilities and depending on the venue, you may be able to hire a room afterwards to continue your child’s celebrations.

Circus & Funfair Parties
Roll up! Roll up! Party hire and prop hire companies often have sets of circus or funfair equipment that can be borrowed for an unforgettable party experience. Sets usually include juggling balls, rings, diablos, spinning plates on the circus side as well as traditional games such as ‘ hook the duck’, tin can alley and target shooting range for a fun fair experience. You can also add your own touches with face painting, a children’s entertainer or whatever you see fit. Find more ideas on Pinterest here.

Cinema Parties
Many independent and larger chain cinemas can help you to arrange a private screening of a child’s favourite film is available on request by hiring one of their screens. Failing that, you can always take a small group to a traditionally scheduled screening.

Outdoor Parties
Whilst it may be true that you cannot rely on Devon to make things easy to organise a child’s birthday party outside, there are still plenty of options available to you but you may want to keep an indoor backup option available. Forest schools often offer party packages with a vast array of nature-based activities facilitated by their staff which may include bushcraft, den building, campfire cooking and more
Alternatively, if you want to do everything from scratch, you could do activities at a local park, beach or your favourite woodland abiding by any rules and restrictions in place.

Computer Gaming Parties
Video game, console and coding parties bring birthday celebrations well into the 21st century and have become hugely popular party options among boys and girls. The games can be put into an inclusive multiplayer mode enabling youngsters to challenge each other in a fun way. The choice of games is vast – choose from singing and dancing games, or football and Minecraft games, for example.

Festival Parties
If your youngster is a music and camping fan, why not curate their own festival for them? Best organised in your own garden or private land, you can have lots of fun making it bespoke to your own needs or interests. There are lots of scopes to be as creative as you like, even making invitations to look like tickets and homemade VIP passes to be given to guests on arrival
For music, why not involve your child in creating their own special party playlist with tunes that they love to dance to and play party games to or use any children’s musical instruments that they may have to make their own band
To create a comfortable outdoor space, use cushions, rugs, throws and any teepees, gazebos or tents that you have lying around or can borrow from friends or hire. Children can create their own bunting or other crafts either before or after the party and enjoy hair braiding, using biodegradable glitter to customise how they look. Find more ideas at the Netmums website

Sports Parties
There are lots of local companies that provide sports-themed parties at a venue of your choice to meet most interests as well as the most popular options such as football and multi-sport. These sessions will be geared to your child’s age and contain energetic and fun games and activities themed around the sports of your choosing.

Arts and Craft Parties
Across the region, you will find lots of suppliers and locations that will host craft sessions such as pottery painting as well as art sessions which produce a long-lasting memento of a special birthday party.
Alternatively, you can buy your own supplies from most high street stores such as The Works, Wilko, Hobbycraft, supermarkets, online or via your local Scrapstore. at


Party Checklist

Make sure you don't forget anything important by using this party checklist.  Click on the links below for more...

Jump to party providers in Dorset

Parties at home  >>> Click Here

Parties at a venue  >>> Click Here

Party game ideas  >>> Click Here

Party food ideas  >>> Click Here

Easy to make birthday cake  >>> Click Here

Party bag ideas  >>> Click Here

Invitation RSVP etiquette >>> Click Here

'Don't Forget Items' >>> Click Here

Five Pound Gift Ideas >>> Click Here


Here are some details about party providers and entertainers in Dorset:


Player Ready 
Poole Forest School

Adventure Wonderland
Pirouette Parties
Lemur Landings
Rock Reef
Monkey World
Farmer Palmer's Farm Park
The Tank Museum
Splashdown Poole


Poole Forest School

Tel: 07771665162


A Forest School party is run by highly trained leaders who are extremely experienced with children and will ensure your child and their guests have a fun wholesome time!  They genuinely care about your child's special day and will ensure they will enjoy an experience to remember.  Activities can include: using tools, building dens, cooking lunch on the campfire, games and private use of their beautiful woodland.  Email to book.  Also look out for their magical winter wonderland theme parties available from November to February which include hot chocolate on the fire and seasonal crafts.  Other themed parties are also available. 


Player Ready Weymouth                         

Tel: 01305 595480

VIP and party packages for kids, adults, teens and groups are available with Virtual Reality headsets and games,  Xbox gaming consoles and Laser Tag VR options available.  See the website for details


Adventure Wonderland
Tel: 01202 483444
Merritown Lane, Hurn, Christchurch, BH23 6BA.
Regularly voted Dorset’s Top Party Venue, Adventure Wonderland birthday parties are amazing value for money! You choose your date, time, and party room and let the Wonderland team take care of the rest. We all know how stressful organising a child’s birthday can be. That’s why Adventure Wonderland aims to reduce that stress and provide everything you need to have a fun-filled day - you just have to turn up! Their weekend ‘park parties’ in September and October include all of their popular rides and attractions. Their weekday ‘play parties’ include their huge Aztec jungle-themed indoor play centre, Wild Thing! With every party booking at Adventure Wonderland, you get an exclusive party room where your guests can enjoy a selection of food, drinks and of course, cake! You’ll even receive pre-printed invitations - they really have thought about everything! Priced from just £11.95 per person, log on to the website for all the information and to check availability.

Pavilion Dance South West
01202 203630

Westover Road, Bournemouth, BH1 2BU.

Why not celebrate with a one-hour party bespoke to your child's favourite song and dance style?
Take up to 14 friends and learn a brand new dance routine with one of their qualified teachers!
From Musicals to Hip Hop they’ll find a style you'll love.
Drinks and a cake to take home are included. Parties from £135.

Pirouette Parties
07585 662887

Would your child like something different for their birthday party? Pirouette Parties offers the complete birthday package for boys and girls aged 3 and upwards. A 2-hour party structure includes party dances, games, learning a themed dance and a performance.
The birthday child receives a free t-shirt and every child receives glitter tattoos or festival face glitter. Founder and Instructor Charlotte is a professionally trained dancer, qualified teacher, former TUI family resort entertainer and DBS checked. Commercial, Hip-hop and Street dance party packages are available for older children.
Find out more via their website, Facebook and Instagram


Lemur Landings
Tel: 01202 711570
Leisure Complex, Tower Retail Park, Poole, BH12 4NY.

Want a birthday party where there’s no cake on the carpet, or dinner on the dog? Then Lemur Landings have got it covered, from exciting adventures around the giant play frame to a space-tastic adventure with phaser tag fun. The parties are great value for money and will give you, your child and their friends a happy, special time. Hop onto the website for all the party options or call the party hotline.


01202 983983
Bournemouth Pier, Bournemouth, BH2 5AA

RockReef parties are perfect for young adventurers! Based on Bournemouth Pier, RockReef Activity Centre offers healthy, fun activities for ages 4 and up. Challenges include 28 climbing walls, a HighLine aerial obstacle course, a pier cave, a vertical slide and more. Party packages include 1 ½ hours of activity plus a choice of party food in the RockReef café. The party host receives a free go on the vertical slide and a Clip ‘n’ Climb voucher.


Pier Approach, Bournemouth, BH2 5AA.

01202 311993

Oceanarium offers a unique venue for birthday parties.  Their package includes admission to the Oceanarium, x2 free adults for the birthday child, a dedicated host, a tea party with your own area, party bags, invitations and a free return visit for the birthday child, valid for up to a year.  A birthday party must have a minimum of 10 children and a maximum of 20 and is suitable for children aged 3 to 10. 


Monkey World
Tout Hill, Longthorns, Wareham, B20 6HH

01929 462 537

Monkey World offer three birthday party packages. The Gibbon package (£16.50 per child) comes with an accompanying adult price of £11 each, park entry, Monkey World Activity Trail, decorated lunch area in the cafe and free pdf invitations and unlimited time in the park and full use of their play facilities.  The Orangutan package (£18.50 per child) is as above with a party bag for every child.   The Chimpanzee package (£25 per child) includes the same as the Orangutan package and an hour in the Activity Centre for sand art, crafts and party games, hosted by a team member.


Farmer Palmer's Farm Park
01202 622022

Wareham Road, Organford, Poole, BH16 6EU.
Included in a Farmer Palmer's Farm Park package are accessibility to all areas of the park that are open at the time of the party, tractor trailer ride, hot or cold food, ice cream for dessert, presentation cake, party bag, party room access for 1 hour and more.


Tank Museum
Linsay Road, Bovington, Wareham, BH20 6JG.
01929 405096

The Tank Museum do not offer a children's birthday party package but visitors are welcome to enjoy their birthday at the Museum!  You are welcome to use the cafe, restaurant and soft play area and can also bring your own cake but they kindly ask that no candles are lit within the Museum.


Splashdown Poole
01202 716000

Tower Retail Park, Poole, BH12 4NY.

2 birthday party packages are available. Their 'Flume Only Party' includes party invitations, 1.5 hours in the water, slush refreshments and free flume riding for adults with an additional hosted birthday party option. Alternatively, there is a 'Cool Slider Classic Party' which offers everything from the 'FlumeONly Party' with the choice of one of their food options.


Party Checklist

Party Checklist: For Parties at Home

• Decide on the timings and date of the party
• Decide how many children you can comfortably accommodate
• Send out the invitations
• Sort out the entertainment if it’s required.
• Plan in the fun factor or create a theme
• Sort out a music-playing device
• Select party games for the children to play
• Source decorations, party tableware, balloons and party hats
• Purchase the food and drink
• Get the birthday cake


Party Checklist: For Parties at a venue

• Sort out party numbers
• Create a small list of your child’s favourite party venues in preferential order
• Check the availability of the venues and if there are any special deals
• Book a date and time with the venue. Pay the deposit
• Get the name and telephone number of the main party organiser at the venue
• Get the party invitations from the venue and send them out
• Sort out the food with the venue and establish whether a birthday cake is supplied
• Confirm numbers with the venue prior to the day


Party Game Ideas

Traditional party games always go down a treat. Here’s a list of some of the most classic children’s games:
• Pass the Parcel  • Musical Statues  • Musical Bumps • Musical Chairs 
• Chinese Whispers
  • Blind Man’s Donkey  • Animal Charades  • Treasure Hunt

And here are a few new party game ideas:
The Tray Game • Dead Ants • Doughnuts on a String • Marsh-mallow Bobbing
• Piñata Games
Remember to stock up on prizes to award to the winning children.


Party Food Ideas 

• The birthday cake!
• A choice of sandwiches with simple fillings
• Chopped-up vegetables with dips
• Breadsticks
• Cheese straws
• Potato wedges
• Pizza slices
• Mini sausages and sausage rolls
• Cheese and pineapple on sticks (or uncooked sticks of spaghetti)
• Crisps and popcorn
• Chopped fruit
• Mini-sponge cakes
• Jelly Boats are made from scooped-out and quartered oranges.
• Ice-cream
• Drinks: Either orange and blackcurrant squash, fruit water, fruit juice, milkshakes or plain water


Birthday Cake 

Quick and Easy Chocolate Hedgehog Cake

(1) Buy or bake a round sponge cake.
(2) Divide the cake into three parts, the middle should be slightly bigger than the two sides, which should be the same size as each other.
(3) Cut a V-shape at the end of the middle piece of cake (this is the hedgehog’s nose). Discard the two smaller pieces. Or eat them.
(4) Cover the middle piece of cake with thick chocolate icing.
(5) Place the two remaining pieces of cake on top of the iced piece, round side up, for the Hedgehog’s hump.
(6) Liberally cover the entire sponge with thick chocolate icing.
(7) Use chocolate buttons or flakes for the Hedgehog’s spines.
(8) The Hedgehog’s eyes and nose can be made using Smarties or similar.

Don’t forget the candles for the cake. They are often overlooked with all the other preparations.


Party Bag Ideas

• Books or small colouring-in books  • Glowsticks
• Glitter Tattoos  • Small packs of pencils
• Bubbles  • Balloons  • Stickers  • Small bag of sweets
• Finger puppets • A paper glider  • Decorate your own paper party bag
• Cake Pops  • A piece of birthday cake or a cupcake


Party Politics - Invitation RSVP Etiquette

For the party hosts

• Hand out the invites in plenty of time, ideally about 3 weeks before the party date.
• Include detailed information on the invitation such as the date, the start and finish times, the venue’s full address and postcode, and the name, email address and number for them to RSVP.
• Include an RSVP date to help you confirm final numbers prior to the day. You may wish to use words to the effect of: ‘As the venue requires final numbers prior to the party we would appreciate confirmation of your child’s attendance by (add RSVP date). If we do not hear from you by this date we will assume that your child is unable to attend.

As a second measure, about a week beforehand, you may wish to politely chase up parents who have not as yet RSVP’d.

For the guests

• RSVP as soon as you can, whether your child can make it or not.
• If something happens on the day of the party, and your child can no longer attend, let your hosts know ASAP.
• If you are running late, or need to leave early then let the hosts know in advance.
• If you have not RSVP’d then don’t just turn up uninvited.


Don't Forget Items!

• Candles for the cake
• Candleholders
• Matches
• Cake Knife
• You may wish to include party bags for unexpected siblings
• Printable directions, including the postcode of the party venue


Five Pound Gift Ideas

Does it seem like your child is attending a different birthday party each week? Needing suggestions for generic party gifts that won’t break the bank? If you are super-savvy you will have already stocked up on a number of general items in the Sales, if not, here are some ideas for a fiver:
• Colouring-in sets and basic craft kits
• Travel and Pocket games
• Top Trumps
• Books, jotters or notepads
• Pamper packages filled with hair bands, bobbles and snazzy hairclips
• Nail art kits
• Superhero action figures
• Vouchers

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