We have had a fair few parties over the years; we have tried doing the entertainment ourselves (with games of pass the parcel, musical bumps and statues) and a few times being more elaborate and hiring in the entertainers (with a balloon modeller, magician and even an animal encounter experience one year!).
Keep It Simple
I would say that in terms of enjoyment though children like whatever you provide at parties, as long as they have a party bag at the end (they have got too used to having them if they don’t you get the sulky face!), a piece of birthday cake to nibble on and a chance of winning a small prize they seem happy with their lot! Even just blowing up lots of balloons and leaving children to chase around after them can keep them amused for ages. Simple usually means cheaper which is handy if you’re on a budget.
Even a simple party will need some organisation, just make sure you have everything you need to hand. Prepare as much of the food as you can in advance because in all likelihood you will need your hands free to help supervise an overenthusiastic bunch of kids! If it starts getting out of control (boys are prone to wrestling and using sofa’s as trampolines to then body slam from!) then start the party games. We went to a party at the weekend and they had a game where two teams had a big pair of underpants with the idea they put them on as quickly as possible and then just passed it back for the next person in line to do the same, the quickest team were the winners. Not much cost was involved yet the children really got caught up in this game! Make sure preparations extend to having a celebratory bottle of wine in stock so come the evening you can commemorate surviving the party!
Think Carefully About The Venue
We have done parties at home and parties in special venues. At home you have to go to great lengths to tidy in preparation for the party, which can be exhausting before you even start welcoming guests through the door. From choice I would hire a venue every time, venuefinder.com is easy to search and you might find somewhere perfect to host your party. I think as the boys start wanting to invite more and more children hiring a venue becomes the only feasible option for my sanity!!! Certainly something to consider for the big special birthdays, 18 and 21!
A bone of contention as my mum never had to do these when I was growing up, she thinks its excessive and unnecessary, but children these days are so used to getting them that I really cannot drop the extra expense. Try and buy pre-filled bags as cheaply as possible to get round the cost, big companies can buy the contents in bulk so they can work out more affordable than purchasing the contents yourself. I did this for the last party and it was a better solution all round.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, rope in the family to make the buffet or bake a cake, my brother was a huge asset he had all the food sorted leaving hubbie and I time to clean the house from top to bottom! Think of it as a team effort and use whatever resources you can, hopefully I can repay the favour if my brother has children one day (always secretly hoping!).