Planning your child’s birthday party should be fun, not a stressful event that you dread each year. It is a time for your little one to be in the spotlight and have fun with friends. Planning the party can be as easy or as hard as you make it.
The first thing to do is set your budget – extravagant or economical! If you have the funds available there are party planners who will do all the hard work for you. Personally, I don’t think you can beat getting involved and doing all the work yourself – get the birthday boy or girl involved. With some simple tips to help you through the planning and party day you are sure to enjoy it as much as the children.
The first thing to do is to forget what the latest celebrity is doing for their child and how much they are spending. Try not to outdo the last party you went to – this is how things get out of control. Start by talking with the birthday girl or boy to find out what they want, whilst you might find they are asking for the moon there will be a compromise or something you can take and make into a party or treat for them. Plan your budget carefully as there is no point in giving the biggest party when you don’t have the funds available, if you start setting expectations early on there shouldn’t be any disappointment on the day.
Next, decide what you want to do – do you want a party at home (not for the faint hearted) or in a hall or somewhere else? If it’s a summer birthday then look at local parks or woods or gardens, any of these will save on hire costs and all you will need is a few games and food.
If you want something organised and inside there are plenty of restaurants offering parties, including Pizza Express where guests get to make their own pizza. Frankie and Bennies, MacDonald’s, Pizza Hut and many more with party ideas for all ages, most including the cost of food and some including the birthday cake.
There are plenty of indoor gyms and play areas that offer party sessions where you will get a period of time to play, usually about an hour, and then move to a private room for the birthday food – these kind of parties are ideal for younger children. Some of these places charge a one off fee where you can invite as many as you want but you usually have to provide food and cake, whilst others will charge per child and include food, and sometimes the birthday cake and gift bags. We suggest you look around and see what is on offer and work out costs per head including all food, cakes and gift bags.
Another way to keep costs low is to look at doing joint parties, this way you can split all the costs but still give your child a birthday party to remember. A friend is currently organising their daughter’s 3rd birthday party and she will be sharing it with 7 of her little friends whose birthdays fall within 6 weeks of each other. Not only does this help with costs but also saves having to go to 7 different birthday parties in a 6 week period as well as organising her own!
To hire a local hall for the afternoon and one of the top entertainers in the area, comes in at around £19 per birthday child! Hall decorations, food, hire of a bouncy castle, birthday cakes plus other little bits and bobs are down to you. Last year they spent around £25 each, the little ones had so much fun and the adults really enjoyed it too!
Organising a party doesn’t have to be expensive when you do a bit of ground work before hand, look around and see what your local area has to offer. Some open farms have special birthday offerings along with arts and crafts centres.
Another friend took their little one to a pottery shop where they could paint and design their very own piece of pottery and then took them for a meal.
Establish how many children your son/daughter wants to invite. Some numbers might not be feasible so set a limit on how many they can ask and they will soon come up with a list.
Instead of buying their birthday cake from a professional why not look at what your local supermarket has to offer or even better try making your own.
If you are providing the food don’t go overboard, remember they are children and will not know or taste the difference between finest or budget ranges.
If you are lucky enough to have a party outside why not do a BBQ – a sausage and burger each in a bun, fairy cakes, or mini magnums or lollies if it’s hot and your job’s done! Dad’s always enjoy putting on a show cooking the barbeque, so it takes the strain off you!
Other ideas include sleepovers. Most kids love a sleepover with all their friends at some point – party food, pizza or take away and a few DVD’s are all you need. If they like the outside why not have a tent party in your garden.
The gift bags don’t need to be huge and to be honest you don’t have to give one. Look at the age of the child and see if there is anything else that could be given in its place. If it’s a young birthday why not look at a balloon, or liquid bubbles or something just as simple, little ones will most probably get more enjoyment out of something like that.
With so many ideas around nowadays you are sure to find something to suit your child which is inexpensive. Get an idea of what they want, do your research and then look around – it pays to ask other parents for ideas if you are really stuck, they are sure to have a suggestion that could work for you.
Most of all try to enjoy the day as it’s no fun if you are tearing around all the time. If the children are not old enough to be left, make sure you have a couple of adults on hand to help you out.
And then at the end of the day, make sure you have a nice glass of wine or favourite tipple waiting for you once it’s all over and you can put your feet up.
By: Helen Willment