Save your sanity & your wallet with these kids party ideas
Now that Christmas is over my six year old son's thoughts turn to his birthday.....in May. Yes that's right, every year we have almost six months worth of discussions about it and this is what I've learned about children's birthday parties.
Keep the kids happy without the stress
Even though I have five months every year to think about the details of the party I still find it stressful to organise, what with deciding on a theme, choosing the venue and entertainment and that's even before we have the argument about how many children to invite.
I have a few basic rules of thumb that help me stay sane amidst these discussions and during the intense organising phase.
Invitations can be simple
Firstly, don't go overboard on the Pinterest stuff, in fact don't even look at Pinterest unless you love baking and crafting and have a fair sized budget. Invitations can be plain paper with a few stickers or even simply e-mails which saves the problem of handing them out at school and wondering if they were all received. It also makes it easier to follow up RSVPs.
Second, if you are going to have party bags (and they seem to be an expectation nowadays) keep it simple which also helps to keep costs down. I think it's better to pick one big item such as a car, bouncy ball, mini Lego figurine, chalk, glow sticks, erasers or pencils and and maybe some water balloons or one small chocolate. Most of these can be bought in bulk for around $1-3 per child.
Third, if you want to have a theme you don't need to do much more than theme the invitations, the cake (this can be done easily - see below) and maybe a tablecloth or table setting. The other option is just to have items in the right colours to match your theme rather than specially designed items. For instance at a Spiderman party everything is red and blue or at a Minecraft party focus on brown and green. This is much easier and cheaper and if you keep an eye on discount stores you can often pick up a bargain that matches the theme. In my experience kids aren't that fussy about decorations and as long as their friends are there they'll be happy.
The Guest List
Fourth, on the number of guests my rule is either everyone in the class or half the class or less. I always think it's quite cruel when only one or two children in a class are left off the guest list. It's also much easier to explain that either everyone in the class is coming or just a few close friends if you are questioned.
Easy Party Food
Fifth, I keep food really simple and this is easier if the party is scheduled between meals i.e 9-11 or 2-4. This way you can have some crackers and dips and cheese, maybe some mini hotdogs and a few lollies at the end. This is easy, cheap and seems to keep kids satisfied.
Children just want to eat the cake
Finally. Again unless you love baking I'd say outsource the cake and save yourself the stress of trying to make mini superhero/toy story/minecraft figurines out of icing. I can't repeat it enough outsource the cake. I might be scarred as my last attempt to bake my son a birthday cake coincided with our oven breaking down. As I pulled the charred remains of my rocket cake out of the oven a mere two hours before the start of the party I vowed to buy the cake forever more. Buying a cake doesn't have to be expensive. If you google a few bakeries you can find a decent cake for under $50. I have had success with the Toowong French Patisserie which does a giant cupcake for under $50, Brumby's, King of Cakes and Shingle Inn. If you want to theme the cake I think it's cheaper to buy a generic cake and stick a Spiderman/superhero/princess figurine on top.
Good luck and look for my next article about venue and entertainment ideas for children's parties.