With three of the little darlings, at any time in the year, I’m never far away from a birthday. We did fairly well in spreading them out. I say that like we actually planned when they would be born, if I had, I wouldn’t have had a summer term born boy, or one so close to Christmas, but that’s another post! Anyway, they all come around too quickly each year and birthday parties cost a small fortune these days. I’ve done the hall hire with entertainer and thirty 4-5 year olds (he earned his money for that one, believe me!!), we’ve taken groups of friends to the cinema, TGI Fridays, Pizza Express & Frankie & Bennie’s and we’ve chosen soft-play venues that offer ‘party packages’. All very good but we are still talking £10-15/ head for each of those options so that’s £30-45 just for my three without any guests and not including essentials like birthday cake and party bags!
With Lou’s 8th birthday coming up, we’ve decided on a party at home. She’s invited 12 friends (the limit I set!), we are going to watch a film, do some craft (which will double up as their party bag) and eat pizza, not necessarily in that order! Here are some other ideas for birthday parties/ essentials:
This can be a really expensive part of the day. I’ve failed miserably at making my own so really wouldn’t recommend that when there are so many fab ready-made cakes at the supermarkets these days!
Even if you want something more personal, you can buy ready iced, plain cakes and decorate them yourself. Go to Amazon and look at cake-toppers, where you can get them personalized and just stick them onto your cake. Hobby-craft also do a great collection of cake decorating bits and pieces to make your cake unique and fit in with a theme.
With a birthday in October, Lou wanted a Halloween party one year. Could I find a Halloween themed cake? No! So I bought a plain, iced cake, some liquorish, black icing and some jelly sweets and came up with this:
She was thrilled and I was quite please with myself! Win, win!!
Home Parties/ Theme Ideas
- The trick with watching a film at home is finding one that the majority, haven’t seen before. Don’t go for a classic that they love because if they’ve all seen it, they’ll just run riot around your house instead, especially if you’ve supplied copious amounts of sugar to consume while watching! Provide loads of cushions and beanbags on the floor (if they are comfy they’re less likely to wriggle around) and make the room really dark like the cinema. Make popcorn (- so cheap and quick to make your own) or another snack and place it in individual bowls for each child to save arguments, plus a drink in a bottle to save spills in the dark! If they become restless in the middle, stop the film and do food. They’ll happily go back to the film after eating and maybe a quick run around the garden!
- Nail painting. Little girls love this, especially if you have a couple of older girls to do the painting! Not only do they love being grown-up with painted nails, but they are totally in awe of the big girls and hang on their every word!! K’s 6th birthday included nail painting as a bit of an after-thought, the girls queued patiently for their turn, absolutely fascinated, and completely ignored my efforts to involve them in games while they were waiting!
- Craft- masks, hats, boxes, bags, photo frames. Not only do these make great party activities, they also double up as part of their party bag! You can buy craft packs on-line relatively cheaply with loads of choice for both girls and boys! I have bought these bags from Yellowmoon.org.uk 3 for £4 for Lou’s party- bargain! For K’s 10th birthday she had a few friends for a sleepover (never again- they really shouldn’t call it a ‘sleep’ over because they don’t!!), when they arrived, I took lots of photos of them posing as a group. During the evening they all decorated a photo-frame, we chose the best photo to print and I made sure they were all ready for them to take home the next day. It made a lovely keepsake as well as being a fun activity at the party.
- Balloon games. Every party has balloons so instead of just hanging them up, play team games with them. Get the kids into two or more teams standing in a line one behind the other. The balloon starts at the front of the line and is passed back, once the person at the back receives it, they run to the front, when everyone has had a turn they all sit down. Kids love team games and really get into the spirit of cheering for their teams! There are so many variations of passing the balloon (side to side, through legs, under/over, between knees), you can swap the teams around, have a prize for the winning team or fun forfeits for the losing team.
- Pizza making. This is a great one and really easy with a little preparation. Buy paper plates, ready made pizza bases, passata, hard cheese like cheddar to grate, mozzarella and a selection of other toppings- ham, pepperoni, mushrooms etc. Prepare all the toppings into bowls including the cheeses, put some passata in a few small bowls with plenty of teaspoons, set each placing up with a pizza base on a named paper plate and let them create! Once they have created their pizza, the tricky bit is cooking it while remembering whose is whose which is where the plate naming comes in. Label each plate with the position in the oven so it can be returned to the correct plate- simple but effective!
- Cake decorating. Make or buy cupcakes- no one’s judging! Buy cans of various frosting or make different coloured icing and lots of different toppings and sprinkles. Let them create! When they’re done, it can be part of their party bag or make two each, one to eat now and one to take home.
- Make your pizza, eat your pizza! It’s a double whammy people!
- Don’t bother too much with the ‘healthy’ stuff, it’s a party!! You are really just cutting up carrots and cucumber sticks because you think the parents will frown at you if you don’t -the kids just want a plate full of crisps and chocolate! Fruit generally fairs better than salad but, if you must, put a token small plate of salad at each end of the table and leave it at that!! Remember to halve cherry tomatoes, they have the same choking risk as grapes.
- See above! They just want crisps and chocolate!!! Go for the majority with a sweet filling like jam or chocolate spread, you will end up eating the ham and cheese ones yourself! Oh, and buy the cheapest white, sliced bread that you can, they will throw the healthy, brown, seedy stuff at you, so its really not worth the expense.
- Take home the cupcake you decorated instead of birthday cake. This saves the time of portioning up the cake during the party and also means that you don’t need a big (more expensive) cake.
- The craft becomes part of the party bag or the party bag itself.
- Don’t fill a bag with cheap crap, parents will thank you for it! The number of ‘perfectly sized for choking’ bouncy balls I’ve thrown in the bin as soon as we’ve gotten home, when I still had a toddler in the house, is huge! Just fill the bag with sugar, maybe a token themed pencil, rubber or bubble mixture and you’re done! My kids know that party bag sweets go in the sweet cupboard to be rationed at a later date- I far prefer sweets than small plastic toys that serve only to impale your foot, once disposed of on the floor!
How have you kept costs down when arranging your children’s birthday parties? Have you got any tips for budget birthday parties?