I estimate us parents have a birthday party a year to organise until our kids are 10 or 11 and get too old for parties. If you have two kids that’s around 20 children’s parties to get through, more than 2 children and that’s flipping lot of mayhem and stress. Not to mention expense.
Little H is 5 and so far I’ve only had to organise 2 birthday parties, but I’ve found that as they get older they are definitely more demanding. Add to that the fact they have more friends once they’re at school, and it can be a bit of a mission to plan.
Here are my tips on surviving your child’s birthday party…
Start planning early
This year I started phoning around venues 2 months before Little H’s birthday, and so many places were already booked up. Clearly most mums are incredibly organised! If you have a particular place you want to book I’d definitely recommend phoning up way in advance.
Set a maximum amount of kids
Work out how many children your child wants to invite, this might also decide for you where to hold the party. We started off with a very long list, but I gradually narrowed it down based on the children that she mentioned all the time – purely because we couldn’t afford to invite the whole class! I assumed that there’d be a few parents who didn’t RSVP or who couldn’t make it so I invited a couple of extra children. That backfired as they all came! Next time I’ll definitely set a maximum number and stick to it. I’d also recommend catering for a couple more than you need, there are always people who turn up without RSVPing.
Choosing the venue
This depends on the age and interests of the child, but there’s so much to choose from. If you have a big enough garden and it’s the right time of the year you could hold the party at home which would save a lot of money – but probably a lot more stressful. If not there’s soft play, farms, discos, go-karting, horse riding, the list is endless. We did a soft play party for Little H’s 4th birthday, and a farm for her 5th and both were really popular.
Let someone else do the hard work
If you have the party at home or hire a hall then be prepared for a lot of work. Not only do you have to buy and make all of the food, you also have to tidy up afterwards. Holding the party at a soft play or similar can work out a bit more expensive, but you will have someone to do everything for you. In my book that’s worth paying more for, especially if you’re at work during the week.
This can be quite stressful as you’ll no doubt have been to lots of other children’s birthday parties and seen some absolutely amazing cakes that other mums have made. Mary Berry eat your heart out! If you’re good at making cakes then great, but if you are useless at baking (like me!) then you have a problem. Some venues provide the cake for you, so that’s definitely worth looking in to. Don’t be scared to buy a cake from the supermarket, some can even personalise them for you. Or you could spend a bit more and
cheat get a professional to make it for you.
The party bags
This area also seems to be a bit of a competition among mums! They definitely seem to be putting a lot more thought into party bags compared to when we were kids and it was just a load of plastic tat from the toy shop. As with cakes, some venues will put the party bags together for you, this is what we’ve done both times. Sweet cones also seem to be very popular and at around £1.50 per child they probably work out cheaper than buying all the individual items. There are also some companies online who will put everything together for you.
Make sure you include an RSVP date and contact number. If you don’t include a date you will end up with people replying the day before when you’ve already confirmed numbers or made up the party bags. Don’t rely on an RSVP slip making its way through school and back to you!
Let parents know if they need to stay
I’ve learnt that you need to be pretty clear on whether you want parents to stay or not. Some parents will take the opportunity to drop their small child off and leg it, leaving you to deal with tears and wiping their child’s bum when they need to go to the loo (yes, that is experience talking!). Write on the invitation if you need parents to stay, otherwise, you could be left trying to supervise 15 small children – not my idea of a fun day.
If the parents do stay it’s exhausting trying to make sure you speak to everyone. I would recommend trying as it seems a bit rude if you don’t, but make sure you have enough small talk in your back pocket!
It’s not a competition!
– Try to remember that it isn’t actually a competition with the other school mums even though it can feel like it, and at the end of the day the most important thing is that your child and their friends have a good time. If you ask me a few balloons, some sweets and a piece of cake and most kids will be happy!
Good luck – I’d love to hear the tips some of you more experienced mums have on surviving your child’s birthday party!