Organising Birthday Parties!

I like to think that I’m pretty good at birthday party planning. This was our fourth year of having a birthday party for Miss NHM and I’ve learnt a few things along the journey…

We always have our parties in a local church because we have a small house and we get a really good rate on the room. Now that Miss NHM is older, we hire the biggest room available, just so the kids can run around like loons if they want too.

Party Entertainment

We always hire a bouncy castle. I highly recommend JV Bouncy Castle Hire.
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I also highly recommend the team from Routine Riots. I’ve worked with Kim and the girls at several NHM events and last year we had a character visit from Anna from Frozen visit our house on Miss NHM’s actual birthday.

It was absolutely amazing and “Anna” did an Awesome job. She stayed in character the whole time and had such an amazing voice. The children were mesmerised when she was telling the story. I had tears in my eyes it was so lovely! Routine Riots do all sorts of party packages so definitely worth checking out.

I also recommend Caroline at Neon Fairy Face Painting. I’ve worked with her before and she’s lovely and does brilliant face painting and balloon “things” (can’t remember the technical word, sorry Caroline!).

I also recommend Polly from Bopping Babies who runs party packages. Polly is a lovely, lovely lady and her Disco’s are absolutely brilliant.

We also always set up a “colouring table”. I saw at another party that they set up a “craft table” but apparently it took a couple of hours to clear up afterwards, so I don’t recommend this for children under the age of 10!

Party Set up

As part of the large room hire we have access to another smaller room and we serve the food in here. When serving food to children, it’s always best to try to limit the damage, so we don’t serve it near a carpet because that takes AGES to clean. Much better to keep it in a room where you can mop or sweep up any mess. Plus having it in a separate room means we can set up and clear up quickly whilst the main party is still going on in another room.

It also took me a few years to realise that it’s best to put chairs and tables out for the adults to sit at! For the first two years we forgot this and everyone ended up sitting on the floor. Oops! So now we put out a few tables out with chairs facing the bouncy castle so parents don’t have to sit with their backs to their children playing, and we put some “treats” out for the adults.

I believe that if the parents are happy (offer of tea, coffee and some treats and somewhere to sit!) then the children are happy. Happy parents are the key to a successful birthday party! Honest! :-D.

It’s really difficult to know what the protocol is for adults having food if you have a party over lunchtime. This can really rack up expense. We used to cater for children AND adults but it meant that loads of food was left over and it cost a fortune. So these days we cater for the children with a bit extra and the adults can finish off whatever is left.

Always take a large knife with you to cut the cake. We forgot this last year, oops!

Make sure there are jugs available for squash and/or water.

Double check if any children are allergic to any foods. I forgot to include this on the invite this year, so note to self for next year!

Party bags

Last year I delegated party bags to my Mum. Massive mistake. She bought the Lego pocket toys and at nearly £4 a pop, the bill for those alone was £70!!?!!?!! To her credit, she did pay for half, but they still cost me £35!

We always stick bubbles and balloons in the party bag. When Miss NHM was one we put organics bars in the party bags.

I’ve always tried to stay healthy but this year I decided that if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them. So I made up party cones of sweets for each bag. They were really simple. I ordered the bags from Amazon, only cost £2 for 50. Then we bought some bulk sweets from Costco and I bought a huge bag of mini marshmallows from Amazon, the small marshmallows for the bottom of the cone. I put 30 together and it took me less than an hour. So the party bags probably,cost about £25 all in. Less than £1 a child, which is very reasonable.

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I also make a concerted effort NOT to include anything that could be considered landfill. So no nasty plastic toys or stuff that’s going to break in 2 minutes. I try to keep the party bags simple. This year they will have some balloons, bubbles, sweet cones and birthday cake.

Party Food and Birthday cake

I’ve also gone one step further and delegated the food and birthday cake this year. Last year we bought a “Frozen” cake from Sainsburys which went down well.

This year one of my friends is making Miss NHM a cake. Hayley from Impish Delights did a fantastic job on the food and cake and it took an immense amount of pressure off me not having to worry about either!

Party Invites

Last year I totally cheated and created an event on Facebook and invited everyone to that, rather than do paper invites.

This year we have invited all of Miss NHM’s class mates to her party so we had to do paper invites. I would love to be the kind of Mum who spends hours lovingly crafting invites, but I know my limitations and I’m not that kind of Mum. So Card Factory did me proud :-D.

Make sure to include your details for RSVP and give a date when people need to let you know if they are coming because I’ve noticed that these days people are very, very non committal. I find this extremely rude, but apparently it’s a generational thing ;-).

I hadn’t anticipated that we would get messages asking if the siblings of Miss NHM’s classmates would be able to come too,as babysitters couldn’t be secured. We had about five extra children coming along, which I hadn’t originally accounted for. This is fine for us, but something to keep in mind if you have a tight budget.

Expect at least 20% of the people who accepted your invite not to turn up. Several will pull out on the morning and blame it on child sickness, dog sickness, etc. etc. It is what it is, so don’t over cater.

Things to remember

  • Rubbish bags
  • Balloons (and a pump or some willing volunteers)
  • Sellotape
  • Blue tack
  • Knife for cutting the cake
  • Napkins
  • Tea towels and towels (they are always rubbish at community halls)
  • Scissors
  • Savlon spray and plasters (there is always one “incident” and it’s nearly always our child! lol)

Double check with your venue to see whether you can use their plates, cups, cutlery, etc.

If you hire a bouncy castle, ensure that there is public liability and insurance cover, in case anything goes wrong.

Don’t judge me too harshly, but I have a spreadsheet for party planning that I update every year, with lessons learned.

Yes, I know several of you will mock me for this, but if you want a copy of the spreadsheet for reference, just drop me an email to NorthHantsMum@gmail.com.

What else would you suggest about organising a birthday party?

PS: Hilary, I absolutely PROMISE that I won’t be doing a “big” birthday party for Miss NHM again next year :-D.

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