Planning a party for your young child can be very stressful, not to mention expensive. The average cost for a child’s party is £300 with some parents spending over £800! There is often peer pressure to do something new, amazing and memorable and that peer pressure is not usually from other children but from parents.
If you are in party planning hell the most important thing to remember is that you are doing this for your child, not other people. You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds and invite every child in the school. Think about what your child would like and what works for you, your family and your budget.
Here are a few birthday party ideas which you might find useful to ensure you all have an enjoyable and stress-free day:
Children’s Party Venues
Many people choose to hire a soft play place and invite everyone in their child’s class. These parties are an easy option as entertainment is on tap (the kids go crazy in the soft play), it doesn’t matter if the weather is bad and the venue will often provide a space for party food and sometimes will provide food. On the downside, it can be very expensive.
There are many other things you could do so it is worth considering different options, such as:
- Party at home – invite a few friends and have an old-school party with games, party food and lots of fun.
- Family day trip – invite one or two of your child’s friends on a trip to a zoo, theme park or other favourite local attraction.
- Bowling – invite a few friends to your local bowling alley. You can often get party food as part of a package.
- Cinema – take your child and a few friends to the cinema and then out to tea after the film. Alternatively create a home cinema with a DVD and have popcorn, your own pick & mix selection and ice cream!
- Picnic – go to your local park or even your own garden for a birthday picnic. Lots of space for the kids to run around and enjoy themselves.
- Sports theme – many local sports halls run a sporty party or you could look into a swimming party at your local pool.
- Village hall/community centre – if you don’t have space or don’t want lots of kids causing havoc in your home then hire a local hall and have the party there.
Once you have found a venue you can decide on a day and time and send out invitations. Decide how many children to invite and make sure you include an RSVP date on the invitations. Another thing to consider is siblings – do you want to invite them or not? This will depend on numbers and cost. Some people will probably bring siblings along anyway so it’s a good idea to find out if they are so you have enough food, party bags etc. to cater for extras.
Decorate your venue simply with balloons and streamers. You could even make your own bunting with paper triangles attached to ribbon.
Children’s Party Games and Entertainment
If you are having a party at home or in a hired hall you need to think about how to keep the children entertained. If you just expect them to play nicely for two hours, then things are likely to get out of control! It’s best to have some games or entertainment planned, even if you don’t use them.
A few old favourite party games are musical bumps, musical statues, musical chairs, pass the parcel, sleeping lions (a good one to try and calm things down!).
You could hire a children’s entertainer or magician. There are lots of options for entertainers, not just your standard magician – research who is available locally – character lookalikes, animal experts who bring a selection of animals for the children to meet, dance teachers, sports coaches, face painters … the list is endless and what you choose will depend on your child’s interests and your budget.
Alternative activities to consider are things like pizza making, biscuit decorating and craft activities. For example, when everyone arrives they could make their own party hat or mask to wear and then get to take it home. Or each child makes a pizza and chooses their toppings and once cooked these are then eaten for the birthday tea (killing two birds with one stone!).
Children’s Party Food
Remember that at parties children eat very little as they are usually too excited to sit down and eat so, don’t over cater!
Standard party fodder is a ‘beige buffet’ with all things brown – sandwiches, crisps, sausage rolls, cocktail sausages, mini pizzas, chicken nuggets – and a few veg sticks and chopped fruit for a healthy kick! There is nothing wrong with this, it’s pretty simple to do and kids love it.
A popular option is to have cardboard meal boxes so each child has one and you don’t make too much food that isn’t eaten and goes to waste.
Other ideas are to just have one kind of food – pizza, hot dogs, fish and chips from the chip shop. Something that your child likes and is easy to do.
Pudding ideas include jelly, ice cream (always a favourite), cupcakes and biscuits, or simply a slice of birthday cake.
Before planning your menu find out if any guests have any special dietary needs and make sure you cater for these.
These days it seems that it is expected to leave a party with a bag of stuff and kids love party bags. They are easy to make up and you don’t have to spend a fortune on the contents.
Many supermarkets and pound shops have packs of toys for party bags at reasonable prices. You can also find a great selection online.
These days it seems that it is expected to leave a party with a bag of stuff and kids love party bags. They are easy to make up and you don’t have to spend a fortune on the contents. Many supermarkets and pound shops have packs of toys for party bags at reasonable prices. You can also find a great selection online.
If you don’t want to do party bags then you don’t have to – sending children home with a slice of birthday cake was enough in my day! Or you could do something a bit different than the standard bag of toys, for example:
- Make up bags of sweets – buy funsize packs of sweets/chocolate bars and divide into party bags.
- Give a book to each child – you can get some good deals on sets of books and a book will last much longer than a few cheap toys.
- Craft – if you have had a craft activity at the party then children can take home what they have made.
- Art supplies – perhaps a small notepad and set of crayons.
- Link the gift to your party theme or time of year, e.g. bucket and spade in the summer.
Overall, when planning your child’s party try to keep things simple. Ask your child what they want to do and don’t get carried away with your own ideas rather than theirs. Remember that you want to spend time with your child on their birthday rather than chasing around after lots of other children. Plan what works for you and your child, stick with it and above all, enjoy it!
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