Parties in Dorset

A birthday is a momentous time in a child’s year.

After all it’s the day when they are likely to be showered with gifts, attention, cards and a pile of treats.

Unlike Christmas, a birthday is unique to them, when they become centre-stage, which depending on your child’s nature, may overwhelm them or they may absorb all the attention with glee.

Nevertheless, we all want to make our children feel special on their big day, and this heightens the importance of the birthday party.

As a result, many parents adopt a multi-faceted role where they become party planner, supreme cook, lively entertainer, room decorator, present giver and childcare supervisor. That’s quite a list, which, unsurprisingly, can seem a little daunting.

Yet, there are many alternative options that will help to lighten the load.

Outside caterers can be used, charismatic children’s entertainers can engage a room full of children for a couple of hours, and party bags can be supplied by an outside provider.

Local attractions also offer party packages and take care of all the arrangements making it an appealing option for many time-constrained families.

Currently, there are strong trends in pamper and makeover parties; Nerf, Laser Quest and science parties; and action related parties such as trampolining, go karting, outdoor pursuits, dancing, climbing – even assault courses.

Yet, parties are as individual as each child, so to assist you in the decision-making process, we’ve included a mass of ideas and tips on this party page.

Remember to keep returning to this page for when it’s your turn to arrange a party… 



Party Check List


Sending invitations - Don’t leave it to the last minute to issue invitations. Send out invites approximately three weeks before the date of your party. The invite should contain all the information the guest’s parents need to know.


A Piñata - A relatively recent addition to the party circuit but these days no party is complete without one. The Piñata is a papier mache shape (often a donkey as they originate in Mexico) containing sweets.

The Piñata is hung up and the children take turns at bashing it while blindfolded. It’s a lot of fun, but be warned, stand back once it splits and the sweets come out. Piñatas are available from many supermarkets. You can also order them online.


Entertainment - If you hire someone, be sure to call them a day or two before the event to confirm they are coming.


Party Bags - The contents of an individual party bag may seem relatively cheap at first but by the time you multiply it by a classroom of children, the sum quickly adds up. 

Finding an affordable alternative suddenly becomes a desirable option. Sweet tables, where jars of confectionary are lined up, similar to a candy cart, enable the children to fill their party bag with a small treat before returning home.

Alternatively, sweet cones are a popular option. These are cheap and easy to make, and look like a piping bag filled with sweets.


Sorting Food - Keep it simple and non-fussy. Just make sure there’s plenty of crisps and enough birthday cake for everyone. Provide your guests with plenty of water, you can get individual small water bottles from supermarkets for little expense. 





Making a keepsake of the occasion

Make the party extra memorable for your child by making a keepsake that can be etched with the names of the party guests. Get a Teddy Bear, a canvas, or a group photo signed by the children attending the party. In years to come this will be a cherished gift and remind your son or daughter of their childhood friends. 





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





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.





Needing party inspiration?

Search for the Primary Times Pinterest pages for quick and easy inspiration. Find everything from face painting designs to quick party hairstyles for the restless child.






Here are some details about party providers and entertainers close to you:


Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park
Tel: 01202 622022

Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park makes parties uncomplicated for parents and promises to offer a fabulous fun filled day for little ones. Spring is full of anticipation - beautiful baby animals are being born and it offers a wonderful chance for families to get outdoors and explore.

The dynamic team at Farmer Palmer’s is ready to help a child’s birthday go effortlessly – ensuring that your family and guests have a memorable time. Prices include child entry, free admittance for 2 adults, a tractor ride, food and drink and party bags. Party rooms are big enough to hold 32 children making joint parties possible. 

Customer Notice:

Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park advert, which contains a March Free Meal Offer, is placed on the Party Page of the current issue of Primary Times magazine. To avoid any confusion, Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park Birthday party packages are already excellent value so they felt it fair and reasonable to remind you of its terms and conditions.

Farmer Palmer’s Terms and Conditions - re: Free Meal or Drink Offers

  1. We do not offer, or accept vouchers, for free meals or drinks within our set packages. i.e. Birthday Party Packages or Group Bookings
  2. No specific Free Meal or Drink Offers on Birthday Parties will result in a reduction of the price.
  3. Any advertised offers for free meals or drinks, in our Hen House Restaurant, apply to counter sales only and a voucher must be redeemed to qualify.

Full terms and conditions are available on the Online Birthday Booking page at



Adventure Wonderland

Tel: 01202 483444

Looking for a perfect party venue? Then take a look at the award-winning family theme park Adventure Wonderland, opposite Bournemouth Airport. A thrilling new water ride is opening in 2017 and there’s more than 30 outside rides, including Runaway train, Ghostly Galleon and Battle Boats.

There’s also Cuddle Corner farmyard, the south's largest hedge maze and the huge Aztec Wild Thing indoor adventure play centre.  The kids will have a fabulous time, whatever the weather. The deal includes unlimited all-day full park play, exclusive use of a party room for one hour, a hot meal and ice lolly, plus one free adult place with every booked child.


Nerf Attack

Tel: 07920 162549

Children's parties at Nerf Attack last two hours and include fun on the assault course, entry into the Nerf Battle zone and finish with camp fire cooking. Parties start with a warm up on the amazing assault course, followed by time in the battle zone for army style Nerf Games. To finish, Nerf Attack offers hot dogs cooked over an open fire, where children can toast marshmallows, and devour other tasty party food. Nerf Games are run all year round and are suitable for children aged 6 years+.


Pavilion Dance South West

Tel: 01202 203630


Pavilion Dance South West party packages are a great way to have fun. Pavilion Dance is a unique, beautiful space with the best facilities, plus it is located right next to Britain’s best beach. A children’s dance party package includes an hour-long dance class in a style of your choice by a fully trained professional dance teacher, a birthday cake, banners and decorations as well as a PDSW branded T-shirt and water bottle for the birthday boy/girl.


Seashells Soft Play Centre

Tel: 07823 555970

Seashells Soft Play Centre offers soft play packages for children for any occasion, such as birthday parties, christenings, naming days, pre-schools, fetes and weddings. The soft play is perfect for imaginative and safe play and will keep all your little ones entertained for hours. Soft play items include bouncy castles, scramble bags, a ball pit, soft play shapes, an inflatable slide, an inflatable maze and much more.


Lemur Landings

Tel: 01202 740500

Little Lemurs love a party! Easy to find on Tower Park, Poole, with free parking, Lemur Landings Soft Play is a jungle of fun and the perfect venue for your child's birthday party.

Whether you’re swinging onto the all-new climbing zone, making new friends in The Ted Shed, romping around the play frames or firing a phaser gun in the out of this world space-station themed playframe, the great value parties offer maximum play, good food and best of all – there’s nothing to clear up afterwards.


Honeybrook Family Farm and Riverside Park

Tel: 01202 881120

Honeybrook Family Farm and Riverside Park is a wonderful place to celebrate a child’s birthday. Spend the day meeting the friendly farm animals during a personal Pets’ Corner session, enjoy a VIP farm activity, and then explore the farm at leisure for the rest of the day.

Alternatively, Honeybrook also offers Wild Skills parties where children learn how to light a campfire the old-fashioned way, build a den or shelter to protect them from the elements and enjoy some natural crafts. These parties are perfect for your budding Bear Grylls’ and amateur Attenboroughs!  Parties can be tailored to the interests of the birthday boy or girl and a theme of their choice.


Pop Idol for a Day

Tel: 01202 746049 or 07941 429313

If your budding starlet thinks they have what it takes to be a popstar or just loves singing, why not book a session at Pop Idol’s recording studio? Pop Idol has several packages available including a kid’s birthday party package for up to 12 children. Solo vocalist and musician sessions are also available, all set in a commercial recording studio used by many famous artists.



Tel 01202 983983

For a fun packed party to remember, RockReef has the answer! RockReef offers fun and adventure with 28 climbing activities, an aerial obstacle course, a pier cave, vertical slide and a leap of faith jumping challenge.

Party packages start from just £13.50pp including 1 ½ hours activity time followed by a choice of hot or cold party food in the RockReef café. The party host will receive a free vertical slide and a voucher to return as a birthday present from RockReef.


Laser Quest, Bournemouth

Tel: 01202 556888

It’s always party time at Laser Quest Bournemouth! Party packages include 2 or 3 games of Laser Quest and a refreshing soft drink.

Dedicated party hosts look after the party guests in a reserved party area where they will be served delicious hot food, unlimited soft drinks, ice cream and the birthday cake. Laser Quest birthday parties are fun for everyone. They’re hassle free for parents and offer loads of fun for kids who leave with a party bag full of goodies. Other party options include the popular ‘Kids Club’ session.



Tel: 01202 499155

For children who love thrilling and action-packed parties, Snowtrax near Bournemouth Airport is the ideal party venue. Set amongst 6 acres of glorious alpine woodland, the atmosphere is ideal for an exhilarating ride down one of the ski slopes on either a ski-bob or a ringo.

Snowtrax is an affordable choice and can cater for parties from 8 children up to 25. After an hour of either ski-bobbing or ringo-ing the party guests move into the pine-clad party room for a sit-down meal and soft drink. Look out for the £2 off voucher in their advert in this magazine.


Children’s Chocolate Parties

Tel: 01202 556857

‘Children’s Chocolate Parties’ is now in its fourth year of trading and is continuing to grow rapidly.

Covering all counties positioned between Bournemouth and London, business owner Leoni is able to visit your home or venue of your choice to run a fantastic chocolate party for your children. In Bournemouth, parties can also be held at Children’s Chocolate Parties’ own venue.

An additional service, new this year, are cookery parties which can be held at home. Everything is provided (except the tables) and all party goers are able to take home what they have made, apart from pizza making – where they sit and eat their creation. Suitable for all children aged from 6 to 13. There are different options to suit different ages.


Peeks Party Store

Tel: 01202 489489

Whatever the occasion look no further than Peeks Party Store in Christchurch as they have it all! They sell fancy dress costumes, balloons, party novelties, themed party packs, personalised sashes, a balloon delivery service and much more.

Peeks have been in business for over 65 years helping people celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Halloween, Christmas, New Year and much, much more.

Visit them at their massive 8,200sq ft store in Reid Street, Christchurch, BH23 2BT or view their full range online.


Bella Ceramics

Tel: 01305 780343

Jo, Faith and George look forward to hosting your child’s party at Bella Ceramics.  They offer a choice of Bronze, Silver and Gold party packages, with prices starting at £12 per person. 

Aside from the ceramic painting, Bella Ceramics can also supply hot or cold party food should you wish.

The Bella Ceramics studio in Weymouth has a fresh and contemporary feel that creates a relaxed environment that is child friendly and welcoming, however should you want to host the party at a venue of your choice, Bella Ceramics can supply a ‘Painting Party in a Box’.


Mayim Mermaid Academy

Tel: 07714 991075

J Mayim Mermaid Pod offers a variety of mermaid experiences, parties, group lessons, private lessons and photo shoots. Swimming experiences are available to all children aged 7 years plus who are confident swimmers in and under the water. Sessions include tuition, some photos, a mermaid tail hire, use of pool and certificates. Extras include under water pictures and the purchase of a tail, if required. Photo shoots out of the water, are available to children aged 4 years plus who are not confident or old enough to have a full Mermaid Experience.




Party Checklist: For parties at home

  • Decide on the timings and date of the party
  • Decide on how many children you can comfortably accommodate in your house
  • Send out the invitations
  • Sort out the entertainment if it’s required. Book the entertainer, face painter, bouncy castle
  • 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 such as plain ham, cheese and tuna. Mix some salad leaves into some of the sandwiches – if the children don’t like it they can always take out the salad! Think about supplying some healthy options which are visually appealing and tasty.
  • Chopped up vegetables such as carrots, mangetout, peppers, cucumber with cream cheese or houmous for 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 made from scooped out and quartered oranges. (Halve an orange, scoop out the fruit, fill it with jelly. Once set, cut into quarters)
  • Ice-cream
  • Drinks: Either orange and blackcurrant squash, fruit water, fruit juice, milkshakes or plain water




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 cup cake




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 a 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
  • Candle holders
  • Matches
  • Cake knife
  • You may wish to include party bags for unexpected additional guests or young siblings
  • Printable directions, including the postcode of the party venue



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