When I was four years old back in the late Seventies I’m pretty sure Birthday Parties were a completely different matter! I seem to remember being perfectly happy with cheese and tinned pineapple on sticks, a game of pass the parcel and a cake that my Mum had spent a good few hours slaving over in the kitchen. I also remember the embarrassment of my Mum playing Christmas Carols in the background and complaining because it was only November.
Roll on 35 years to the present day, our children now expect a whole lot more from their parties. First of all there should be a theme and this ideally should run from the invitations, to the table design, balloons and cake. Not forgetting the entertainment. So all in all it can prove to be a very costly and time consuming business as I found out recently….
Last year when Amelia turned three years old we decided to hold the party at a soft play venue. I must say it was a pretty stress free event. The venue organised the food (which was a bit on the disappointing side) and for the majority of the time most of the children were off playing on the climbing frames and slides. I was therefore free to catch up with all the Mums and Dads that attended, but at the same time I didn’t really see much of the interaction between the children. So this year I decided I wanted to organise the whole thing myself.
The first decision I made was which entertainer I was going to pick. Over the past couple of years since Amelia started Nursery I have attended numerous parties, so I had a pretty good idea on what I consider makes a good children’s entertainer. I believe it is all about holding their attention, having boundless energy and having a genuine love of children. I had seen The Giggle Company host a party for a friend of Amelia’s and I was convinced they were the ones for us and they didn’t let me down. Although at the higher end of my budget they really did pull out all the stops. Amelia wanted a Frozen themed party, so when Anna and Elisa turned up, Amelia was in her element! The highlight for me was when they brought their snow machine out (foam maker). ‘Let it go’ blaring out and 40 under 5’s singing along, priceless!
The venue was another decision I made early on. Here in Ealing we have numerous church halls to choose from. My main needs were: a fairly large hall because I planned on inviting all the children from Amelia’s Nursery and other friends too (I must have been mad). It is important to consider the height of the hall if you want to hire a bouncy castle. I also wanted a fully equipped kitchen so I could make hot drinks and heat up food. Don’t forget to factor in setting up times and clearing up after the event. We wanted to leave the hall as we found it otherwise we would not get our deposit returned.
Here are my top tips on food and drink:
- Keep it simple, don’t do too many different varieties of sandwiches/savoury things you can over cater
- Cartons or pouches of drinks are easier to hand out and you will have less spillages
- Don’t forget vegetarians and children with allergies
- Consider having an adults table for snacks/sandwiches and drinks that are more suited to their palate
- Make sure you have some extra supplies just in case some extra guests turn up that you weren’t expecting
- Fruit Kebabs went down a treat at Amelia’s party
- Make sure you have help if you attempt to do your own catering (I was lucky enough to have my Mum helping out in the Kitchen, otherwise I won’t have seen much of the party)
- Consider a shop made cake, unless you have excellent baking skills. I brought mine from Waitrose online and had it delivered to my door on the morning of the party
- We ended up cutting the cake and wrapping up for the party bags. This was a suggestion made by the entertainers, it meant there was more play time.
Well that’s it for my 2nd blog post. I plan to write a second post on parties with some more ideas on organising and what I did for party bags.
Please do comment if you have any party tips or hints, I would love to hear from you…..