Planning a child’s party can send even the most organised, practically-minded parent into a blind panic. Party planning has, like many other aspects of parenting, become increasingly competitive, with many of us feeling the pressure to create a party like no other. Sadly this has not only taken some of the joy out of celebrating our children’s special day, but it’s also helped to ramp up the costs of the average party – back in 2011 a typical child’s party was reported to cost somewhere in the region of £300! But, with a little bit of imagination, time and organisation you can create a truly special day for your child without the exorbitant price tag.
Parties at home – the lowdown
A party at home is no-brainer way to slash costs, but the downside is you may have to limit numbers due to space, and even a small gathering can quickly get out of hand if things aren’t organised with military-like precision. If you’re saving on your venue you could consider hiring in some entertainment – storytellers and puppeteers work well for younger kids, while older children might enjoy learning a skill; jewellery making, perhaps, or something science-y, for example. Or how about booking a face painter or magician? Take a look at parenting website Netmums which features details of local party entertainers, including reviews from other parents, a useful way to get first-hand recommendations so you know you’ll get quality entertainment at a good price.
Combine your entertainment with some good old-fashioned party games or a treasure hunt. The key is to keep your young guests fully entertained for the duration of the party if you want to avoid things descending into play-fights, jumping off furniture or up-ending the toy box!
A key benefit of parties at home is that they allow you to transform your space and you can really go to town on decorating your home and creating a theme. Use co-ordinating table ware and decorative pieces to bring everything together. Younger kids might like an animal-themed/jungle party, for example. Set your table with our Dear Zoo party range and use other decorations to create a jungle-inspired theme. Look out for everything from animal-shaped balloons to piñatas, inflatable palm trees to paper animal cut-outs to create a setting that will entrance your visitors. And when it all gets a bit much, a quiet game of sleeping lions will restore a little bit of calm.
Older children’s parties call for a little more sophistication. Girls will love the girly romance of our Summer Party Range, while the unisex Keep Calm and Party range works well for that tricky ‘tween’ age group. A really simple low-cost idea, ideal for girls, is cupcake decorating. All that’s required is a batch of cupcakes (home-made or shop-bought), bowls of different colour buttercream icing or icing-filled piping bags and an array of sprinkles, decorations and co-ordinating cake picks and cases. There are some amazing decorations to choose from, from edible flowers to sparkling glitter. In the hands of older children this activity will result in surprisingly little clearing up, plus you’ll keep them entertained for a good amount of time. For boys how about pizza making? Your local bakery might sell bags of ready-made dough if you don’t want to make your own. Make some paper chefs hats, give everyone a rolling pin and provide plates filled with different toppings.
Hiring a venue
If space constraints make hosting a party at home unfeasible, you could look into hiring a church hall or similar for your party. This will afford you much more space for kids to run around and let off steam. You can be much more creative with your games choices, too, with extra space making more rowdy, active games – such as Musical Chairs or What’s the Time, Mr Wolf – a possibility. A disco is another option, either DIY (but make sure you’ve got a good track listing of child-friendly music!) or using the services of a professional entertainer, who will be able to supply all the gear, including the pre-requisite lighting effects.
Simplify your catering by offering a ready-made lunchbox for your guests. Fill a Dear Zoo box with a packet of crisps, a box of raisins, a couple of allergy-friendly sandwiches and a chocolate biscuit – a great way to minimise the clean-up operation afterwards.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to parties that offer children an experience, but be prepared to pay for it. At the more budget-friendly end of the market, there’s everything from swimming to multi-sports or soft play at your local sports centre or gym. The benefit of this kind of party is having a definite focus, and you can often buy a party package, including food, drinks and even party bags, relieving you of almost all planning obligations.
To keep costs down you’ll probably have to limit numbers, or it may be cheaper to hold your party on a weekday rather than during the weekend. You could consider spreading the costs of more expensive parties with another child, though this may involve choosing a date a few weeks later or earlier than your child’s birthday.
It might be more hassle, but opting to supply your own food may be cheaper than buying a full party package. A simple party bag filled with a slice of cake, lollipop and one small gift is ample – we have bags in both our and Dear Zoo range and our Vintage Rose Range.
Happy planning! Don’t forget to check our blog for more planning tips and ideas for parties, weddings, christenings and other special occasions.