Becky from Baby Budgeting very kindly wrote a guest post for me which did go some way to quell my rising panic.
My aim wasn't specifically to save money (although it's always nice isn't it!), but I did have a desire to go back to a more traditional approach, and give her an old-fashioned birthday tea party.
Ruby's forever coming home from nursery with invitations, and lovely as some of the parties have been, the pure commercialism and competitiveness amongst mums is not something I want to be drawn into.
Don't get me wrong, there's still pressure. Who do you invite? Do you choose some children and not others? Will the other mums 'get it' or will they think we're cheapskates?
In the end, we invited all the kids at Ruby's nursery - make that nurseries as she goes to two different settings throughout the week. That's 30 kids, plus family. BIG MISTAKE!!!
We had decided to hire a local hall - parties at home are too hellish for me and we simply don't have the space. We were lucky to have a local venue which had just been refurbished, looking for bookings to raise funds, and got that for £10 per hour. It's a lovely old hall, with loads of space to run about, a basic kitchen, loos and a little garden.
We decorated the hall with bunting and balloons and laid out tables with cloths borrowed from my mum. I have to confess, we didn't do any food ourselves - apart from the sandwiches, but bought it all from Costco! There were sausages, carrot and cucumber sticks, cheese cubes, sandwiches, ham, and crisps, followed by strawberries, fruit salad and cupcakes. So many of the mums complimented me on such a healthy spread (what were they expecting?), and then proceeded to pile their kids plates up with crisps, cakes and sausages, so we went home with a carrot mountain and shed loads of fruit!!
Ruby had been very clear that she wanted to play pass the parcel; musical statues, do the Okey Cokey and then have a 'disco'.
Following Becky's advice, I made up the pass the parcel (with Ruby's old Cbeebies magazines as wrapping) with a simple forfeit in each layer (admittedly I also put a little sweet in too!). They were very simple tasks that I felt a 3 or 4 year old could manage easily, and we were on hand to help. However, it soon became clear that these kids had no clue how to play pass the parcel. I don't think most of them had ever done it before - how sad is that? It was also made more difficult by me having no idea how many would turn up as most hadn't RSVP'd and lots of people arrived late - some breezing in an hour late.
|OK guys, here's how it works...|
We abandoned pass the parcel after everyone had had turn, and quickly decided that musical statues probably wasn't a good idea. So instead they all ran around like crazy loons, strutting their stuff, chasing balloons and pulling some funky moves.
|Hoppin & Boppin|
|DJ Daddy Cool|
One thing that was a big success was the 'bug' hunt I organised. I bought some chocolate ladybirds and hid them around the garden for the kids to find. They were asked to collect them all up into a basket and then they were shared out evenly. The kids loved it, and it was a sunny day so it was nice to get them all outside doing something.
Sorry Becky, I gave in on the party bags, but I did ours quite differently. You can see them here.
All in all, it seemed to go quite well, if a little chaotically. Never again shall I invite that many people, and I will chase up RSVP's almost as soon as they've opened their envelopes next time.