Kids parties. When did they become such stressful and costly events?! Venue, food, entertainment, games, party bags, decorations… the list goes on and on! As parents of three, it seems there's always an upcoming kids party to plan (it certainly doesn't help that our children are born an even 3 months apart, with Christmas / New Year filling the gap). Unfortunately, it means the welcome wave of relief that washes over us at the end of every child's party is rather short-lived!!
So, what have we learnt in 10 years of kids party planning?
1) Kids are easily satisfied
Just as a 1-year-old discards the gifts and plays only with boxes and wrapping paper, so too will your older children forget about the expensive entertainment, fondant-topped cupcakes, matching napery and exquisitely-penned invitations associated with their parties. All he or she will remember is being the centre of attention, getting some cool presents and blowing out the candles on a cake. So, be kind to yourself and keep it simple!
2) Set a budget, or else!
Kids party expenses can add up very quickly, so it's important to set a limit on how much you want to, or can afford to, spend. Write a list of what you need, from most-important to least-important. Working down that list, estimate much each item is going to cost and STOP when the subtotal reaches your limit (note: if you’ve run out of money for cake, you’ll need to reassess your priorities!). Then, shop around to see if you can make any savings on your budgeted amounts and add a few extra 'nice-to-have's!
3) Involve your kids in their own parties
Children love to help organize birthday parties - it's one of the main joys of childhood! So, let them work and delegate as many tasks as possible. Party bags, game planning, table and wall decorations... all these things and more will keep them occupied and give them a real sense of ownership and achievement both prior to and during the party celebrations.
4) Your party doesn't need to qualify for the next issue of Home Beautiful
Forget about keeping up with the latest trends and fashion. Even if you manage to style the party table, it’ll only look photo-ready until the first person arrives, and they'll be too busy eating (and you’ll be too busy entertaining) to notice it anyway!
That said, you don't have to give up on adding a little sparkle and razzamattaz to delight and entertain your kids. There are three key things we do to create a nicely-styled, but budget-conscious theme for our kids parties:
- Always use plain white plates, bowls, cups and cutlery. They are completely neutral and will fit with any theme/styling. Better yet, any spares can be stockpiled and reused for subsequent events.
- Add touches of colour and style using large, attention-grabbing items such as tablecloths, centrepieces, printable decorations and disposable placemats (colouring-in or activity ones work well if you need to keep kids occupied!)
- Get crafting. Hop on Pinterest and find some creative ways you (or ideally, your kids) can decorate the party venue/table.
5) Take photos!
Finally, and most importantly, remember to take some photos! Believe us, capturing a few of the most important memories will become your most treasured and lasting mementos of the occasion.
Hip, hip hooray! We hope you have a wonderful, non-stressful day... :-)