Ideas for putting together a great Children’s Party

If you are planning to organise a birthday party for your little one, hopefully some of the following information will be useful because (in my naivety) I think that a lot of birthday parties that are hosted by places are just a big con, a huge expense, and aren’t very personal.

Birthday Cake: I have a couple of Likes on my NHM Facebook page of local businesses that make all sorts of cakes. From the photo’s, they all look fabulous and from what I can see are very reasonably priced.  As you know, I’m a huge fan of supporting local businesses so like to promote wherever I can. You can find most of these local Cake Companies HERE.

Party Bags: I remember the days when party bags didn’t exist (yes, I’m old!) and you received a piece of birthday cake wrapped up in napkin when you left a party. These days party bags have taken on a whole new dimension. I can totally see how it gets ridiculous if you are hosting a party for lots of children. I also worry about how much of it ends up in landfill, especially the cheap plastic presents that you can pick up for party bags. We went to a party recently where the bags had bath toys in, which I thought was a great idea. I love bubbles and balloons so don’t think you can go wrong with these in the bag. NetMum’s has some great ideas for party bags in the link below.

Party Games: when I was a child I remember that my Dad led all of the party games, possibly because his name was Simon so we always played “Simon says”, lol. If you are hosting at home getting Dad involved as the “Party Games Master” (if he’s available) as it’s a great way for him to feel that he’s a key part of the event. It also shares the load with you!

Thank you Cards: These have been the bain of my life since my little one was born! lol. However, I think it’s really, really important to thank people for any presents that your little one receives. People make a lot of effort for presents and it’s only polite to thank them for this effort. Even if you do start to curse the thank you cards after a while. I can’t WAIT for when my little one is old enough to write her own! lol.

Invites:  get them out early. It’s amazing how quickly families get booked up on the weekend. If you are hosting in the week it’s still advisable that you send invites early because people often have set routines for the evening’s or in the day.

Locations: Obviously, at home is always the cheapest, but not always the easiest! There are a lot of Community Centres in the area. Over 60 at last count. You can find them all listed HERE. If it’s summer time you could organise a “Birthday Picnic” at one of the local parks (click HERE for ideas on local parks) but this is dependent on the weather.

Food: Costco. Nuff said! :-D. Although apparently Morrisons do some great sandwich trays for only £5 each.

Presents: Local Mum Businesses

Party Entertainers

Bopping Parties: Kids Disco Parties – 1 to 10 year olds. Great tunes, games, disco props, bubbles and more

Sing Along & Smile

Monkey Music

Creation Station

Toddler Sense

Sense Theatre

Local Party Shops

Dazzle Party Shop

Party Workshop

Face painting

Neon Fairy Face Painting

Bouncy Castles

5 Places for Sunday lunch, with Children, in North Hampshire

Is it just me or has it been one of those weeks? We had no internet at the weekend and it’s been intermittent all week, hence the lack of posts this week. Very frustrating as I had lots of posts that I wanted to work on. For example, this post is supposed to have 5 places for Sunday lunch with children. I only had time to come up with three. Do you have any recommendations for this post?

1. The Beech Arms – Oakley

3. The Harvester – Brighton Hill (I’m going to be very controversial here and say that I’ve never been that impressed with the Basingstoke Harvester. The last time we were there the babychanging room was in a disgusting state, which never bodes well for a restaurant!)

Updated Dec 2013

4. Spruce Goose – Leisure Park

18 Places that will host a Children’s Birthday Party

I’ve only hosted one birthday party for my little one, so clearly I haven’t been exposed to how these experiences can “escalate”. So, as I’m still green behind the gills with regards to parties (Goody bags? Have I not spent enough already?!?!?!) I’ve put together a post with a list of places that will host a birthday party for your little one.

I will be publishing a post next week that will look at cheaper ways to host a children’s birthday party. So if you are looking for birthday party inspiration, check out next weeks posts.

If you are planning a children’s party any time soon…Good Luck! 😀

1. Lymington Sea Water Baths – Pool available to hire for children’s birthday parties. (probably better for a summer party 😉)

2. Little Nellies Diner (was Nelsons Diner) – on the way to Newbury. (They do AWESOME milkshakes!). Minimum £8.95 per child but they can tailor depending on your budget.

3. ActiveTots – Bramley. Minimum £8.50 per child.

4. Intech Science Centre – Winchester (How cool would it be to have a birthday party in a Planetarium!)

5. Play Days – Basingstoke

6. Fun House Basingstoke – Soft Play

7. Basingstoke Sports Centre  (Is it sad that I remember going to a birthday party was at the Sports Centre some 30 odd years ago. Wow. How ancient am I? It was a wicked party though! lol) 

8. Finkley Down Farm – Andover

9. Queen Mary’s College: Our swimming pool is available for hire, and for children’s parties, throughout the year.

10. Bowling Alley, Leisure Park

11. Pizza Hut Parties, Festival Place or the same Business Park as ToysRUs.

12. Pots2 Paint, Viables.

13. Beale Park, Pangbourne, Reading

14. Jakes Indoor Softplay and mini farm, Sandhurst.

15. Birdworld, Farnham

16. The Hawk Conservancy, Andover

17. Atmosphere Trampoline Park

17. Any suggestions as I ran out of ideas!!! (Check out the post below with a list of 6 ‘extra’ places to host a children’s birthday party)

Related Posts

Another 6 places to host a children’s birthday party

Page: Birthday Parties

Post: Organising Birthday Parties!

Local Businesses – Children’s Parties (bouncy castle, face painters, etc)

15 Different Experiences for Children

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Blackberry Picking in North Hampshire

Today’s post was supposed to be about good blackberry picking spots in the area. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to research this or to get out and about to find some new spots.

The blackberries are quiet late this year which is probably because of the wet summer that we had. Blackberry picking is a great family activity and can save quite a bit of money if you have the ability to freeze your berries after you have picked them. I like to stick them in a bowl covered in water with some salt, then rinse them off, bag them up and put them in the freezer for the winter months. It can save a fortune when you compare the cost of buying frozen or fresh berries. We use ours in porridge for breakfast (great for weaning as the frozen berries makes the porridge cold and is another dose of fruit for the day) or I use them to make smoothies or a crumble.

These are the places that I do know which have good Blackberry picking spots. I am going to put out a request on the NorthHants Mum friend and the FB Page to see if anyone else can recommend any good spots and will update this post as I receive them. If you do know of any good blackberry spots please add a comment to this post. Thank you!

Carpenters Down/Basing Wood

There are lots of Blackberry Bushes at Carpenters Down and the further you go into the Woods, the more likely you are to find some good bushes. If you follow the path out to Bramley, there are some bushes there too.

Chineham Business Park

A new path has been put into Chineham Business Park and there are a lot of bushes around this area, towards the back of the Business Park.

Related Posts

Review: Basing Wood

9 Foody Places to go as a group of Mums with babies/toddlers

Are you looking for somewhere to meet up with several of your friends, their babies and pushchairs/buggys?

The list below are some of the foody places you could visit that welcome large groups of Mum’s and babies:

1. Queens College Arms – Tadley road

Recommend booking in advance and asking for the “big” table. They have baby changing facilities onsite and bottle warming facilities. Very friendly and welcoming of Mum’s and babies. For bigger children, there is a climbing frame in the pub garden.

2. Little Roses Tea Shop – Elm Tree Garden centre, just up from the Queens College Arms

They have excellent baby changing facilities and even provide free baby wipes and nappy bags! There is a changing station and several highchairs upstairs if you don’t want to take your pushchair in. Recommend looking in the Chests/tables as there is a treasure trove of toys that will keep children amused for a while. Very welcoming of Mums and babies.

3. Dayers – Chineham Business Park

This place is normally empty in the mornings. They do good breakfasts and cake. Gets busy at lunchtime, so maybe not the best place to go for lunch.

Unfortunately they don’t have baby changing facilities (they used too!) but they do have large toilets so if you don’t mind doing emergency nappy changes on your changing mat on the floor, you should be ok.

4. Dobbies Garden Centre – Tilehurst (25 mins from central Basingstoke)

If you fancy going a bit further afield or live near Reading, it’s worth checking out the restaurant of this Garden Centre. They have a large restaurant with a big outside eating area. Seems to be quiet because it’s outside of central Reading.

5. Wyevale Garden Centre – Sherfield on Loddon

They have a large restaurant and outside area. The baby changing facilities are good, but are in the ladies toilets. I recommend signing up for the Gardening Club as you rack up the points quite quickly which give you discounts in the store and restaurant.

6. The Cafe Project, The Dome, behind Asda in Brighton Hill

Open Tuesday to Friday’s from 9.30am.

7. Portsmouth Arms – Hatch Warren

8. Costa Coffee – Hampshire Centrecourt Hotel (Behind the large Tesco’s)

The Service is slow but you can sit indoors or outdoors and there are baby changing facilities

9. Conkers Garden Centre

Related Posts

9 things to do in Basingstoke with a newborn

8 Cheap Restaurants in Basingstoke

11 Places to Breakfast with children in North Hampshire

Book your free electric vehicle advice clinic

“Guest Post Wednesay” is returning! Yay! You may have noticed that things went a bit quiet over the summer period with regards to Guest Posts. However, now that summer is over (boo!) it’s back on track, so if you have anything you would like to publicise to the network of over 1000 parents who read NHM, please email the details to me at northhantsmum@gmail.com.

Are you worried about the impact your lifestyle will have on your children’s future? If yes, have you considered an electric vehicle? Evergreen Consulting are a Basingstoke small business that can provide you with LOTS of information about electric vehicles, including obtaining a grant from the government for one…

Evergreen Consulting are delighted to offer a personalised 30 min one-to-one electric vehicle advice clinic at LCV2012.

Electric vehicles:

  • can reduce fuel costs by upto £2,000/year/vehicle
  • are motorway capable (some can easily travel 90 mph)
  • are very responsive in acceleration
  • durable, traveling up to 25,000 miles/year
  • can reduce your carbon footprint by using 100% renewable electricity
  • make transport ready for a low carbon future

As independent experts with over 5 years experience of operating EVs we can help you answer the key questions you may have.  We can provide professional evidence based recommendations on all aspects of EVs to save money as well as speeding a transition to a low carbon future.

However, places are limited so book now by contacting 07711 252971 or reply to this email: rs@evergreen-consulting.co.uk. You can also find out more details at the website:  http://www.evergreen-consulting.co.uk/index.html

I’ve driven an electric car and I was really surprised at what a great drive it was and especially how quiet they are! If you are thinking about an electric car, I urge you to contact Rob at Evergreen Consulting as he is very knowledgeable and helpful.

12 Things to do when you are pregnant in Basingstoke and North Hampshire

1. Check out NorthHantsMum – obviously! 😀 Especially the newborn page and pregnancy pages. I also recommend requesting to join the secret FB NHM Pregnancy group.

2. Find out where your local baby clinic is. There is a previous post on NHM which details local baby clinic’s in the area. Click HERE for details.

3. Book up for your NCT Antenatal class early – else you not find one close by, which can become complicated (especially if you have had a cesarean) if you want to catch up with your Mummy friends and they all live miles away. NCT also do discounts on courses for those with limited funds. Or if you are looking for an alternative to NCT and live in North Hampshire, you could also try FitMama classes.

4.  Go do the “Hospital Look” round tour a few weeks before you are due. Try not to be too scared if you hear someone in labour 😉

5. Get hold of a Tumble Dryer or find out which of your family and friends have tumble dryers and start being very nice to them! Or, find out where the local laundrette is. You will be horrified by the amount of washing you suddenly have to start doing! The only laundrette details I could find in Basingstoke is the one at Elmwood Parade in Winklebury. Let me know if you have details of any others.

6. Check out the local Breastfeeding support if that’s what you want to do. Check out my previous post about Breastfeeding in Basingstoke HERE.

7. Get your maternity Bra’s from the NCT website. Much cheaper than Bravissimo and I found the selection in Bravissimo to be quite limited.

8. Find out where your local children’s centre is and see if they have a Bumps n’ Babes class you can attend, if only to meet other Mum’s in the same situation and area as you.

9.  Research what is on for Mum’s with new babies in the area. Winter is a notoriously hard time to have a baby because you are stuck inside a lot more, so you need to make more of an effort to get out and about. NHM will keep you up to date on what’s going on in Basingstoke! 😉

10.  Sign up for some of the free pregnancy “stuff” that you can get when you are pregnant. I signed up for the free Bounty Pack. When I received mine it had a bar of galaxy and a can of appletiser. I don’t think they made it out of the car park (blush)! Sainsburys and Boots used to give them out.

11. Attend a Pregnancy Exercise Class. The FitMama Studio in Stroudley Road has a number of classes that are specifically designed for Pregnant Mum’s.

12. Have a pregnancy massage.

I can probably come up with a lot more, but I think twelve (the list was originally 10!)  is a pretty round number for this kind of list! Do you have any other good suggestions for those who are pregnant?

Bumbo Seats Recalled in the US

I saw this and wanted to share with you…

“About 4 million Bumbo Baby Seats are being recalled in the US after 21 reports of infant skull fractures. Bumbo plan to add a restraint belt to all Bumbo’s because without restraints infants can manouver out or fall from the seat, posing a risk of serious injuries.”

We had a Bumbo when my little one was tiny but I didn’t like it because she used to arch her back when she was in it and several times I had to catch her from falling out of it. We found the Bumbo at the Tiny Tot’s Table Sale in Chineham (wonder why they stopped?) for £3 and I was quite proud of my bargain. But after a few weeks of using it, I realised that I had to keep an eye on my little one permanently, in case she tried to arch her back to get out of it. I’ve read a few reports about how the structure isn’t very good for a babies back development and they shouldn’t be sat in them for more than 30 minutes at a time. However, it was very useful when we first started weaning.

For more information about the recall, please see the links below.

http://recall.bumbousa.com/

http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/15/popular-bumbo-infant-floor-seat-recalled/

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Babies and Chocolate

A couple of my friends were having a debate recently about whether or not to feed their little one chocolate. Personally I don’t want my little one to have chocolate until we have too. I’m of the opinion that she’s got the rest of her life to eat chocolate and she’s not going to know what she’s missing if she’s never had it before. I’m especially worried she’ll turn out like me, addicted to the stuff!

However, I totally respect other people’s opinions and decisions to give their children chocolate. I thought it was an interesting topic to investigate so I’ve included a few links below. My husband did some research about chocolate and babies when our little one was born. He discovered that chocolate changes the taste buds of babies. I can’t find any research to support this but the links below are still interesting reading.

http://babyparenting.about.com/od/startingsolids/f/chocolate.htm

http://www.itsamomsworld.com/tastebuds-and-sugar.html

http://www.nhs.uk/start4life/pages/sweet-as-they-are.aspx

The Importance of Skin to Skin

This weeks theme is “Babies”.

I only picked up on how important skin to skin is when my little one turned a month old. We didn’t have a very easy time with breastfeeding, for several reasons, but it was only when I went to see Lorraine, one of the breastfeeding counselors at North Hampshire Hospital, that it became apparent to me how important skin to skin is. I am eternally grateful to Lorraine for her pearls of wisdom.

I made sure that in the morning I spent as much time as possible skin to skin with my little one. This was fairly easy to do as it was summer time (this was last year, so nowhere near as much rain!) but I can imagine that in winter time it can be quite difficult to do this. My husband also found skin to skin very rewarding and whilst we spent our first few days as a family in hospital, he spent a lot of time with our little one on his chest. The nurses at the hospital were all cool with it as I’m sure they’ve seen it all before!

Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, skin to skin is still very important. Once my little one switched to bottles I had to make a conscious effort to make sure that skin to skin still happened.

My little one is now 17 months old and if I am not dashing to work in the morning I always make sure that the first feed of the day is skin to skin. My little one has always had her milk first thing in the morning so it’s worked out pretty well to be able to do this. I’ve noticed that my little one always needs to touch my skin when I’m holding her now. She puts her hand on the edge of my top or around the back of my neck. It makes my heart sing when she does this and reminds me of when she was really tiny. I’m sure that the skin to skin approach has helped us to bond as I really miss it if we haven’t been able to make time for it.

Whether you agree with skin to skin or not, and based on my experience,  I would really recommend trying to do this as much as possible, especially in the first few months. I can imagine this is really difficult to do with your baby if you have more than one child. Does anyone have any suggestions about to manage this complexity?

If you would like more information about the importance of skin to skin, please check out some of the links below:

http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/jack_newman2.html

http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82:the-importance-of-skin-to-skin-contact-&catid=5:information&Itemid=17

http://www.lotusfertility.com/Skin_to_Skin_Protocols_for_Bonding_and_Attachment.html

http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/breastfeeding/Pages/skin-to-skin-contact.aspx