Christopher went to a birthday party on the weekend. OK, so not a massive deal, I can see you thinking. Except this was no ordinary birthday party. This was a birthday party at a high ropes adventure park. £30 a head! 15 kids! You do the maths!

Being an English teacher, I couldn’t resist posting this…

Maybe I’m jumping on my high horse a little here. I suppose if I had the money I’d like to treat my kids a little, but come on, do the parents not realise there’s a bar that has just been raised to astronomical heights, and that every other parent in the playground now, albeit possibly a little unfairly, loathes them?!

Jack and I are comfortable but we’re not flush, and so, when it comes to the boys’ birthday parties, I am all about looking at cheap options. At the end of the day, kids are kids, and as long as they’ve got all their friends there and a pile of presents, would have fun in a sewer. Which has inspired me to put into writing my top tips for keeping the costs down…

The Cake

They can all look different, but if we consider it logically, they all get chewed in the same way, and they all come out the same way. They have to look good, and they have to taste good, but they don’t have to cost the earth. Tesco, Asda, and every other supermarket going produce kids’ birthday cakes at decent prices. Jazz them up with some special candles, or personalise them with your own icing, and your child will love it.

I always remember my mum’s cakes. When she was off work raising my brother and me until we started school she used to do a lot of baking. According to my dad, the dog wouldn’t eat her dishes in the early days, but I guess practice makes perfect, because nothing can beat my mum’s cooking now. When she had the time she used to make really fancy cakes following instructions from a recipe book that I used to steal because I used to love looking at the pictures. She made a farm, a Loch Ness Monster, and a fairy castle once.

I had a go for the first time last year following a recipe for Harry’s birthday; because he was turning 2 it was just a family event, a safe option because there were no primary school mums to impress. I made a caterpillar, and fair play, it looked and tasted pretty good! There’s quite a lot of satisfaction in making something that’s pretty good and saving yourself the high prices you’d pay buying it from a store.

Party Bags

Cake is a fundamental ingredient of a party bag, but the rest is pretty flexible. A multipack of mini bags of Haribo should only cost about £2, so I use that to bulk them out a bit.

Bubbles are the greatest invention of whatever century they were invented in. You can get packs dirt cheap, and they keep kids quiet for absolutely hours, especially with games such as “The Biggest Bubble”, “The Most Bubbles”, and “How Quickly Can you Blow and then Burst the Bubbles”.

Little boys especially love fake tattoos, and sheets of them cost very little. I’ve never understood this fascination, but when it comes to party bags, I don’t question it.

My best piece of advice here is to check out EBay for some fab deals, especially if you’re buying in bulk.

Entertainment

The thing to remember here is that kids bounce off each other when there’s a group of them, so you don’t need to worry about providing entertainment for every second of the party. See yourself as the Facilitator of Fun.

There are quite a lot of function rooms that you can hire for free. If you manage to find one, the next step is to get in some entertainers. If you have a willing body (and uncle, dad, cousin usually works really well) who can put some time into learning a few magic tricks and balloon animals from the Internet, book them!

Party Games

It may seem old fashioned, but when you’re dealing with young children they absolutely love it. A few years ago, when I was still teaching, I used to have a Christmas party and an end of year party for my year 7 pupils in the last lesson. I played music from the computer and they played musical chairs, bumps and statues. If I’d had had the foresight to organise pass-the-parcel they’d have loved that one too! They may be Oldies, but they’re definitely Goldies, and all you need is a few cheap prizes; bars of chocolate are ideal for games winners.

Dance and Singing

We’re living in an age of technology, and a lot of kids these days are pretty au fait with computers. Now it’s your turn to use this to your advantage. If you’ve hired a venue with a large screen TV, beg, borrow or steal a Wii or X-Box from someone if you don’t have one, and stick on any of the dance or karaoke games that are out currently – prizes for the best dancers and singers of course!

 And for Free…?

Nothing beats free! Head to the nearest Kompan Playground and have the kids party on the latest high tech playground equipment, without spending a cent.

I hope this article’s been useful, or, at the very least, a little entertaining! Let me know if you have any fab ideas for kids’ birthday parties…I think this is a topic that many parents struggle with, especially on a budget.

As always, thanks for reading!

Ella xxx