As a mother to a couple of infants, both in primary school, I know how important birthday memories are. With both kids arriving in March and not on their highly anticipated “due dates” (one was a Valentine prediction and the other an April Fool), the post-Christmas finance drain is hardly over.
As a January child myself, my dull anticipation of childhood birthdays goes little beyond “there’s your Christmas and your birthday gift together.” Determined to ensure my offspring have a memorable childhood, I refused to let a 9-year-old birthday pass without the whole world knowing about it. Well, the whole school class anyway.
There are many factors in planning parties: venues, cost, capacity and the needs and peculiar social preferences of the little birthday girl or boy; however, in the spirit of inclusion and “loving thy neighbor” (even the rude and obnoxious ones), I couldn’t sanction, just yet, non-inclusive parties.
So how do you manage the hordes of children while still keeping the costs down?
For my household, the older sibling was treated to a pre-paid laser party which involved hiring the venue, trying to impress upon others the importance of a R.S.V.P. policy, which impacted upon overall booking costs. The dent on my plastic is still visible.
Post-Christmas resources further drained by that event, the younger child is on a budget. And here are some tips on keeping it all fun, inclusive and, above all, sensibly priced.
Hire a plain and basic hall. This could be a community center, church or sporting venue. Hire it for the allotted time (one or two hours).
Do your own food. Yes, I anticipate a morning of preparation like no other, but it will be memorable and hopefully fun. Food can be fun (and inexpensive). Sandwiches, even plain ones on inexpensive bread are immediately fun when cut into funny shapes, and what kid doesn’t desire a jam or chocolate spread bite ahead of salad and carved ham?
Dress up. Hiring a character can be quite costly, so put yourself in the frame. Dress up and act in character all day. They’ll love it!
Cool down. A great idea is to use a cooler and fill it up with super inexpensive popsicles. Kids don’t expect this, and it’s less messy than ice cream.
Buy cheap entertainment and equipment. In the hall, you could rent a bouncy castle, but they are pricey and usually include a human health and safety representative to be hired too. Instead, you and your loved ones can spend hours filling bags with inflated balloons, grabbing some footballs from the garden and dragging out some hoopla-hoops from the garage to keep the girls and boys entertained. This is a bit old-fashioned, but it is still fun.
Take an MP3 player or iPod. Halls are echoic places, but where there’s no restriction on using electrical equipment, music and dance are fantastic time-fillers.
A plain hall is usually kid and damage proof, so balloon fights, indoor soccer and hoopla-hooping are pretty safe suggestions. And you won’t have to shampoo your carpet after, or pack away your china! It isn’t necessarily sleek, high tech or flamboyant but believe me, it will be a party to remember (and for all the right reasons), leaving you enough cash to consider a trip out in the summer.