A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published March 27th 2012
Which 3 little words make every conscientious parent break out into hives? Kids. Birthday. Parties.
For some reason they seem to come around much more frequently than once a year and they have a tendency to spiral out of control in terms of cost and content, despite military planning. Kids' birthday parties these days are big business. Take a look at the back few pages of the Child Magazine and you'll see what I'm talking about. There are magicians, fairies, clowns, pirates and witches to come and entertain your guests, not to mention mobile farms, roving reptiles, giant inflatables, and all manner of other diversions to be hired.
Jumping Castles have become a favourite at kids' birthday parties
So what happened to pass-the-parcel and copious amounts of sugar? If you fancy going a bit more old school with your next kids' party and keeping things simple and affordable, check out the ideas on the next two pages for some inspiration.
For the Boys
For younger boys, a Pirate Party will insure some classic swashbuckling fun. Invite your guests to dress up in their best pirate outfits and make the invitations look like ancient treasure maps (singe the edges on a flame and stain the paper with tea). Your party can include a treasure hunt where the kids need to follow simple clues or arrows to find their party-bag of 'treasure' at the end. Food might include cupcakes with homemade pirate toppers (stick 2 pirate stickers back to back with a cocktail stick between them and insert into the top of a cupcake), these simple pirate boats and some very eye catching fishy sandwiches. My favourite pirate grub is this awesome tropical fish jelly which looks spectacular. Traditional party games can be adapted to suit the theme; instead of pin the tail on the donkey, have the kids pin the peg leg on the pirate. A piñata stuffed with gold coins is sure to be a hit too.
For slightly older boys, a Sports Party is sure to appeal. Your guests can wear their favourite sports stripes and meet in a large grassed area if your garden isn't big enough. Pack up plenty of sports equipment to take along and have your hubby referee some short games of football, cricket or rounders. Alternatively set up a circuit of mini sports related stations and the kids can try their hand at lots of different activities such as 'Beat the Goalie'. You could provide cards which the kids can get stamped as they complete each activity. This birthday cake would be great for any young sports fan and these party favours will be a winner with the guests at the end of the party.
Water Balloons will engage toddlers at a Messy Play Party
For toddlers, a great idea is a Messy Play Party. Little boys usually love getting their hands dirty, but warn Mums and Dads not to dress their little angels in their best clothes! Set up your garden as a free play space where the littlies can wander from one activity to another. Areas could include a dirt pile complete with spades and shovels for digging up plastic dinosaurs, a kiddie pool full of water balloons containing coloured water, a slime pit inviting little fingers to locate giant toy bugs and a play dough table with various cutters and rollers. Food could include DIY pizza where the kids are provided with a pizza base and a selection of toppings from which to create their own masterpiece. You can cook these just before it's time for the all important birthday tea.
For the Girls
• Princess Parties are all the rage but they don't have to be done by the professionals. Invite your little princesses to arrive in their best party dresses and enlist the help of a couple of the other mums. The girls can have their nails painted, choose a temporary tattoo to wear, play with a pile of costume jewellery and be adorned with hair and body glitter. Party food can revolve around the likes of mini cupcakes with edible glitter, fairy bread cut into butterfly and flower shapes, these pretty jam stars and of course a fairy princess castle cake as a centrepiece. Plastic tiaras can be bought very cheaply at most $2 type stores and would make great take home party favours.
Rainbow coloured balloons and streamers will set the tone for your Rainbow Party
A Rainbow Party gives plenty of scope for some very creative ideas. Guests can come dressed in brightly coloured clothes, and streamers and balloons in rainbow colours will instantly create a stunning party atmosphere. There are endless opportunities for fun food starting with rainbow jelly, traffic light fruit pops (strawberries, cubes of melon and chucks of kiwi fruit on skewers), these pretty rainbow slices and home made cookies with smarties embedded in them. For entertainment you could create a simple scavenger hunt where the kids need to collect a range of objects in the different colours of the rainbow. They can be rewarded by that elusive pot of gold (chocolate coins) at the end of the rainbow.
For the littlies, you can't go past a Teddy Bears Picnic. Get each of your guests to bring their own teddy to the party and set up a classic picnic blanket inside or outdoors depending on the weather. There are scores of teddy related food ideas for your picnic that are simple but very effective. This teddy bear bread is so easy to make that your kids can help you out and these tiny teddy cars are super cute. Traditional party games like pass-the-parcel and musical bumps will provide entertainment if your guests are over two years old and make sure you have plenty of balloons for them to bat around. There are plenty of teddy bear party decorations and supplies available so shop around.