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      24.08.2010 14:03
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      Overall can be great as long as there is enough planning

      I have 2 children, both boys, aged 5 and 2 years old.

      I love throwing childrens parties therefore have thrown a party every year since the boy's 1st birthdays.

      I find that for the 1st and 2nd birthdays a little gathering in the home seems the best option as anything bigger can leave the little ones feeling overwhelmed and usually leads to unhappy children and unhappy parents.

      A little selection of party foods, lots of balloons, toys and nursery rhymes are all that are needed, apart from friends and family of course!

      Usually by the time children are 3+years old they have much more friends, usually from taking part in day time activities or nurseries. This means that parties tend to cost that bit more.

      I have come to realise that rather than having a party at home it actually can work out a lot cheaper having a party at a venue, such as a play gym, or a farm. Although for my eldest sons 3rd birthday we hired a playbus that came to the house and brought a bouncy castle.

      Most parties at venues seem expensive and it can be a large amount of money to pay out all at once, but if you sit down and work out the costs of buying party bags, the party bag fillers, the food, the games, the prizes for the games, the cake, the decorations etc it can be very costly!

      There are other bonuses to having a party at a venue. For example there is usually little or no tidying and cleaning to do afterwards, party bags are usually included so you dont have the added stress of having to buy and make them up yourself and the staff provide all the games, activities and food. Also there is no chance of running over the scheduled finishing time of the party. Parties are usually 2 hours long.

      If, like a lot of parents, you would prefer to host your childrens parties at home, then planning things carefully is a must.

      Send invitations out 2-3 weeks before the party to ensure you know definate numbers a week prior to the party.

      Once you know how many children there are you can then start buying party bags and fillers suitable for that age group. Keep fillers to a minimum. A balloon, a toy, some crayons and a little colouring book with a bag of sweets is more than adequate.

      Organising games and activities is very important so that children are never bored. Bored children = mischief!

      If you have a large garden and the weather is nice you could maybe organise a treasure hunt with clues. (This can be done with younger children that cant read if an adult reads out all the clues for them). There could be sweets/chocolates near every clue and the prize could be a chocolate bar.

      Pinata's are also good fun but space is again needed to ensure it is safe for the children.

      Other ideas are maybe the theme of your childrens party could be fancy dress. You could have a competition for best costume with a prize for the winner (maybe a book) and runners up prizes (some bubbles). Every other child could be given a lolly for taking part to ensure every child is happy.

      I find it easier to plan exact times of when you are going to do each activity and when the children will sit down to eat. It is best to do active games before lunch as you dont want any children feeling ill afterwards.

      Keep food light and easy. Try to have healthy food as well as goodies.

      A perfect menu could be:

      Carrot sticks
      Cucumber sticks
      A variety of sandwiches
      Popcorn
      Crisps
      Sausage rolls
      Grapes
      Buns
      Biscuits

      Make sure you find out any special dietry requirements of the children. You dont want to give a child something they are allergic to!

      Music is the key to any childrens party. Nursery rhymes are good for the younger ones but as they get older they will not be interested in them. Party songs such as music man and agadoo are always good thrown in with a bit of pop music. Most children grow up listening to our music and enjoy dancing and singing along to them.

      If you are having a birthday cake (which most people do) then you need to leave yourself enough time to cut the cake and put it in the party bags before the parents start arriving.

      Make sure that there are enough adults at the party to look after the children safely. If parents are leaving their children then take their name and number just in case anything happens and you need to contact them. Let every parent know what time the party ends.

      The most important thing to remeber is to have fun with your children. If you organise and plan everything before hand then this will leave you much more time to enjoy the party. If you are stressed then the children will probably realise this.

      Childrens parties can hard work but they are so worth it when you see how happy your child is.

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        21.04.2010 19:38

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        i took my children to a party and was not at all impressed the staff didnt have a clue what she was doing. i was only a guest at the party but she asked me ow many children there was and what they were all eating which should have been done before any one got there. once she had sorted there food she asked them to jump up and down to some music have there food then she left the to play on there own, when she did come back she sat in the corner with the face painting stuff and never told any of the children she was doing it, when my son asked to be painted a monkey she couldnt do it. I ADVISE DONT HAVE A PARTY BUY A HAPPY MEAL FOR EACH CHILD AND TAKE THEM TO THE PLAY AREA ITS CHEAPER

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        16.03.2010 13:54
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        Do your homework first !

        Home made or Out sourced - that is the question !

        I have 2 children, a 5 and a nearly 7 year old. We have been throwing birthday parties for the last few years now, and expect to be doing so for another few years to come. Personally we like to vary the kind of parties we throw, sometimes we have simple home parties and then other times we pay to have them elsewhere. It usually depends on our finances and how many people the kids want to invite. Also the age of the children involved can be a factor.

        If money is tight then home parties are an ideal option, after all you don't need to pay for the space you use - although this can be a problem if your home is on the small side or you don't fancy the idea of having a house full of children wrecking the place. If you are blessed enough to have a nice sunny day (rare I know!), you may also have the option of letting them run riot outside in the garden - thus protecting your indoor valuables.
        We have chosen this option a couple of times, the advantages being that there are no fees to be paid, you don't have to worry about paying for guests that don't turn up, you won't be charged for cancelling/rearranging if the need arises, you won't be late arriving for your own party and you don't need to worry about sticking to a tight time deadline.
        On the downside, if space is a problem then you may need to limit the numbers invited, you run the risk of damage/spillages within your property, you have to organise the party yourself/ keep the kids amused for long enough and provide any refreshments and entertainment as required. You then have the unenviable task of having to clean up the mess afterwards !
        Overall, can make a worth while party if you have the space and can cope with the workload.

        On the other hand you can pay for the party to be hosted elsewhere, whether that is paying for room/hall hire or paying for a themed party such as at a play centre / cinema / swimming complex to name just a few. For my daughters last birthday we paid for her and her friends to have a sledging party at Tamworth snowdome, and they loved it. Not only can you give them the option of doing something they might not normally do, you also have the benefits of not necessarily having to do much of the organising yourself (depending on where you have the party). A lot of the themed parties will cater for the children, as well as provide a host to take care of them, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the party yourself. In addition to this, you don't have to worry about cleaning up afterwards, so let them make as much mess as they want !!!!
        On the down side it can be expensive and you may have to stick to a tight time deadline (so you can't afford to be late). There may also be the inconvenience of having to get to the venue and any costs involved in doing so.
        Overall though, if you want to let someone else do all the hard work and you can afford to pay them, then this option is ideal.

        To date I still haven't decided which is best, as the children seem to enjoy both types of party equally as much. I guess I'll just have to continue varying the two, so they get the best of both worlds.

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          28.09.2009 10:33
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          A great way to celebrate a boys birthday!

          I am still shattered from hosting my son's 10th birthday party on Saturday. Over the years, having four boys, I have accepted and become quite a pro at giving these parties. The games are getting tougher for the older ones, and the ideas to keep the kids entertained is certainly a challenge. Charlie's 10th party was a huge success and I was told "these are the best parties in town!". What an ego boost!

          Boys will boys. They need plenty of space and tons of action activities. Our main theme was a 'Water Wars Party'. I made the invites daring each of the 10 invitees to 'group up, find the flag and eat the forfeits". The invites were white on blue card, and then burnt around the edges (just for effect, and requested by Charlie). I love setting the challenge and making the kids so excited even before they arrive.

          For the water wars we brought 10 pump action water guns. These guns served as the gift for each child at the end of the party. No need for party bags full of tiny bits. They were all delighted with their gift, and they were definitely going to be used again at home.

          On arrival, each child choose a gun, and were then allowed to mess around until everyone had arrived. I had filled two very large buckets with water, so the guns could be easily refilled. Once all 10 children had arrived, and then my four boys on top, we were ready to role. Firstly, I grouped them together and told them the RULES. I think that was one of the hardest bits, as some kept fiddling with their newly acquired guns! Now being a teacher and a mother, I stopped the nonsense and explained where they could and could not spray! Next came the rules and objectives for the water wars.

          The boys were divided into two teams, red and blue. I actually did the dividing before they arrived so there would be no arguments. Both teams were to establish a base in the garden, which would be their command centre for the whole afternoon. In the garden we had hidden a fairly large flag. The objective of the game, was on the command "go", both teams would rush and try and find the flag and get it back to their base. If anyone got squirted they had to stay still for the count of ten, and if they had the flag and got squirted they had to drop it. The red team had red water to squirt, and the blue team, blue water, thanks to food colouring.

          We played about eight rounds of 'find the flag', and each time both teams got cleverer. They would leave a couple of kids behind to 'guard' the base, some would go clockwise, others anti-clockwise, to ensure they would meet the flag finder. It was really good to see them using the best techniques possible to get the flag. In the later games I introduced water balloons as extra weapons, they loved these.

          In between each 'find the flag' game, I did some disgusting challenges and forfeits! I enjoyed making these, and watching the horror mixed with delight on the boys faces. The first challenge was 'pass the eggs' (make sure no one is allergic). The boys line up in their teams. With an adult cracking a raw egg into the first child's hand, they have to pass it back to the last child, who then has to put it into a container. This is done 6 times, and the team with the most unbroken yolks wins.

          Another challenge was 'how many marbles can you collect from the icy water using just your toes?'. A member of each team has their feet in the icy water and they both rush to collect as many marbles as possible in 30 seconds. It's really funny to watch, and amazing to see the different children's reaction to the icy cold water. Each child has a go, with their team mates cheering them on.

          Now on to the disgusting food games. The boys loved this. One game was each child had a bowl of cooked spaghetti mixed with jelly. Also mixed in were two sweets. They had to find the sweets using just their mouths. The different techniques used were great. Another game involved drinking some revolting looking green gunk with bits in it (coloured custard and raisons). It was most certainly mind over matter, and it tasted quite nice. Once one child said "yum", the others followed. I even had one asking for more!

          Half way through the party, I served food and drinks. It gave the warriors time to catch their breath and have some quiet time. We had home made pizza, sausages, mini doughnuts, marshmallows, crisps and fruit juice. Not very healthy, but it's a party, and they were burning it all off.

          We finished the games fifteen minutes before pick up time. This left just enough time to have the birthday cake (Yoda, made by a friend), and give the boys free time to swim, and run riot (some more!).

          All in all, it was a super party. It lasted for two and a half hours, and was full on entertaining. The boys were quite noisy, to say the least, sorry neighbours, but extremely well behaved. There was no squabbling or accidents. I was amazed at how the teams organised themselves and controlled the mission in hand. They supported each other, and not once did they moan if they failed. My 5 year old was in with all the action, and the blue team did not moan when they got him, just treated him as an equal member (he is a tough little cookie!).

          We finished off the day, with Charlie opening his gifts from his friends, tired and exhausted. I actually enjoyed doing the party, and did not feel too stressed out. The boys all participated, and had fun, which is the main thing. Cost wise, it did not break the bank. The guns were the most expensive thing, but individually they cost the same amount as a party bag.

          On Saturday night, exhausted, feet throbbing and full on left over pizza, I collapsed into bed thinking what to do next year!

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            11.09.2009 15:40
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            A great fun themed party for young kids!

            A couple of years ago a friend's cousin was having her fifth birthday party. I was asked to help plan the party and go along and help with games etc. At the time the little girl ...we will call her Ellie, not her real name... was really into bugs and butterflies and other such creepy crawlies...*shudder* So I decided to plan the party around that. I should say, I was inspired to write this review after reading a review of Curly Caterpillar cake!


            Rules
            ---------
            Ellie was given quite specific boundaries in terms of her own involvement in the planning and shopping process for the party. She was allowed to invite who she wanted within reason, but the limit was set at 30 children as any more than that would just be chaos.

            She chose the main theme for the part and she chose her cake - Curly Caterpillar from Tesco. But we found that it was often cheaper and less time consuming to limit her choice in certain area. For example, she was adamant that she was picking the toys to go into the party bags. We compromised here and managed to buy a huge box of bulk party toys from eBay for about £20. Ellie was then allowed to look through them and choose which ones went into the bags and which were used as treats for the party games.

            The box of toys we bought contained things like bubbles, bouncy balls, various keyrings, small dolls and action figures, children's plastic jewellery, marbles, novelty pencils and mini notebooks. All great little things to pop into party bags. And £20 for about 40 items was brilliant as it allowed us to put something in each bag plus have a few small prizes.

            Ellie is a very well mannered little girl but her mum still felt it was important to impress upon her that although it was her party, it was important that all the children had a nice day. Ellie was quite up for this and it actually meant that she enjoyed being a hostess for part of the day!

            Decorations
            ----------------
            We're quite good at making things, so between us, Ellie's cousin - Amy - and I made lots of the decorations for the party. As the theme was bugs and creepy crawlies we did have a little difficulty at first but decided to opt for fun, colourful decorations, not anything too creepy or scary.

            We made a giant caterpillar using balloons all taped together and covered in paper mache. This was brilliant fun!

            How to make Chloe
            ------------------------
            Blow up as many balloons as you require - we used 9 small balloons and 1 larger one for the head - Chloe was over 2 feet long!

            Use double sided tape to tape each balloon on to the next - have the tied end of the balloons all pointing up the way for this part.

            When they are taped together, flip over the balloons so that the tied end is on the floor. You will need to prop up your caterpillar at both ends or it will roll around all over the place. Then you just slap on the paper mache! You have to use long strips for the joins between the balloons.

            We just used newspaper and PVA glue for our paper mache. Luckily this was before we had recycle wheelie bins so there were loads of newspapers in the house. Rip the paper up into small pieces and coat it in the glue. Then just layer it on to the balloons until the entire structure is coated, remembering the longer strips to join each balloon.

            Leave it to dry and add another couple of layers until it is very sturdy.

            Once she was dry we painted Chloe bright green with a yellow face and large heavily lashed eyes and a big smile! We added various coloured boots along her length; these were just cut from cardboard.

            Chloe was the centrepiece of our decoration and she took an entire day to make and an additional day to ensure that she was properly dry... but she was worth it!

            -------------

            We also paper mached more individual balloons and made these into large purple spiders and colourful butterflies and ladybirds.

            Large cut out cardboard bugs were hung from the ceiling, dangling over our heads and there were butterflies of all shaped and sizes dangling from the ceiling, in doorways and on the windows. Many of the butterflies were actually garden decorations bought from Au Naturel - 3 for £3 at the time.

            We used colourful crepe paper hung in strips from the top of each door just to add colour and had it hung like streamers all over the place.

            The total cost of decorating the entrance, hall and large front room was about £25 for paint, glue, balloons, card, crepe paper, blue tack, butterflies and a Halloween spider's web.

            Imagination is key when decorating and it's a great opportunity to allow some children to help; they can make some of the items for decoration, developing hand eye coordination and art and craft skills.

            Food
            -------
            It was so much fun to do the food for this party. We made sandwiches and sausage rolls as usual. The real fun was the cakes and sweets!

            Ellie had chosen a Curly Caterpillar cake from Tesco, so we didn't get to make her actual cake. I love baking though, so decided to make some butterfly cut out cookies and a Chloe Caterpillar jam roll as come kids might not like the chocolate Curly and also, that one chocolate roll was nowhere near enough to go around! If your child ever chooses a chocolate caterpillar, either buy two or bake a second one.

            I can't remember the recipe I used but it was just a very basic vanilla jam roll recipe. I tried my best to copy Curly in shape, size and style. So were Curly the Tesco caterpillar was covered in chocolate, Chloe was covered in piped butter icing. I made her face using a large dome of Just Roll icing which I coloured pink. This was attached to one end using strawberry jam. I just made her features out of just roll icing too. I sprinkled lots of dolly mixtures across her back and made little boots from various colours of just roll icing. In the end she was a more elegant and much taster version of curly!

            Other than Chloe the cake and the butterfly cookies, we made sausages and told the children they were barbequed worms - they loved that idea! There were hot dog rolls for the sausages and the kids were asked if they would like a "worm-dog". Again, this went down a storm. Kids love general silliness, so be as silly as you like. The boys took it a little too far by asking for a worm dog and blood (tomato ketchup) BOAK!

            The sandwiches we made were cut out using the butterfly cookie cutter and also a dinosaur cutter - yes, dinosaurs are not insects, but it seemed to work!

            All of the "real" food (sandwiches, worm dogs, sausage rolls, pizza) was served to the children as this limited waste and allowed each child to have a portion that was enough for him/her. Some of the excess was put out on a table for them to go back too. The rest was kept for the adults!

            We really had fun with the sweets. All of the sweets were laid out on a table in various bowls and plates and then covered with a large piece of purple fabric covered in gold spiders which Amy just happened to have lying around! Chloe the caterpillar ran the length of the table and kept an eye on the sweeties. The kids were not allowed to peak at this until after all of the savoury food had been served.

            We had gummy worms, laces, flying saucers, Jazzies and marshmallows all from the pound shop - bargain! We went to the cash and carry for some of the more odd sweeties... blood filled beetle anyone? There were also fizzy bats and chocolate mice from here.

            We had bowls of Pringles and popcorn dotted around too.

            The total cost for food (not including cakes) was around £50 which really isn't too bad when you are feeding 30 kids and 5 adults!


            Games and Activities
            ---------------------------
            We played all over the usual party games - musical bumps, musical statues, pass the parcel, best dancer - two or three times. As the kids were very young (4-6) they enjoyed the repetition and it allowed us to engineer it so that a boy and a girl won each game haha!

            We also made up some of our own games such as stick the shell on the snail. We drew a beautiful blue snail with a pink and yellow spotty shell. The kids had to place the shell on the right part of the snail.

            Prizes for the games came from the box of eBay stuff for the ones who came second and the first prizes were bought very cheaply from the pound shop. There were 10 first prizes and 20 second prizes - making sure every child won SOMETHING.

            The First prizes cost £10 in total.

            At the end of the party we decided that we would read a story before the cake came out. I decided to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. A book most 4-6 year olds are familiar with and enjoy. I read the children the story once, letting the caterpillar turn into a butterfly. The second time around, I read the story up until the caterpillar is very fat. Then I said "and now that the very hungry caterpillar is nice and fat and juicy...we're going to EAT HIM! Mwahahahaha!" The kids found this hysterical and out came Curly and Chloe with five candles on their backs. We sang happy birthday to Ellie and she enjoyed having two lots of candles to blow out.

            The cakes were cut as the kids played around for the last wee half hour while mums started to turn up and collect them. We found it wise to put the cake into their party bags instead of serving it as we didn't want the usual chaos of "your piece is bigger than mine!"

            Each child left with a party bag containing a slice of cake, a small toy, a small bag of crisps, a handful of sweeties and a party blower.


            Conclusion
            ---------------
            Overall the party ended up costing £150 which is quite a lot, but having attended the party, some parents actually thought it had cost more like £250, so there was definitely value for money there somewhere. Ellie's mum had wanted her party to be very special as she was born prematurely and five was a huge milestone for the family. Her subsequent parties have not been quite so elaborate but she has enjoyed them all the same.

            I think that spending this amount of money on a child's party is ok for certain milestone birthdays, maybe 5, 10 and 13. It is time consuming to do this kind of party but as Amy and I were students on our summer break, we had plenty of time on our hands! We love doing things like this too, so if you enjoy making things and being creative and allowing your children to be creative, then this is something that will keep you and the kids occupied for a while before the actual party which is great during the summer holidays.

            We had a ball planning and hosting this party, but if you are a busy working mum it is probably best to find someone to do it for you - this is what Ellie's mum did and she loved what we created for her daughter.

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              07.09.2009 22:25
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              lets party!!!!

              Childrens parties can be a expensive time for many parents. Every child wants a party but it's the Mums and Dads that have all the stress and cost of ensuring it is a perfect party for your little one.

              I think now parents kind of compete to throw the best party and I am always picking up little tips for my kids next one.

              My daughters 2nd party was a great party but was held on a shoestring and heres how

              Venue - My local sure start centre has a soft play area for hire, it costs £20 and has a limit of 10 children in at a time. I also get another room for food etc for free.

              Balloons and decorations - As my daughters birthday is the 11th december we decorated with christmas lights and tinsel and brought a few packs of balloons to throw in the soft play room. Total cost £4.38

              Party bags - I brought pre filled party bags off ebay for £1 each which although seems alot saved me time and stress.

              Food - We spent £20 on food by sending my daughters uncle with the order for 10 happymeals which were chosen by guests parents on rsvp
              Bowls used for jelly were supplied by venue as were plastic spoons.

              Cake - Birthday cake was made by Nanny for free...
              Jelly and icecream cost less than £3

              Total cost was £57.38 plus £5 paid for fruit squash and tea and coffee for parents.

              Time to clear up the food mess 10 minutes max. Stress for me - minimal.
              I had a great time as did my daughter I am planning on doing it again this year.

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                19.07.2009 01:54
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                all good fun

                When I was younger I was an only child and lucky enough to have a birthday party every year. I always looked forward to my special day and spending time with my friends. I now how 2 children of my own and think it is nice for them to also have a party.


                My daughter is 5 on Wednesday and her party is tomorrow. I have been told I always go over as I always end up spending way too much. I am lucky as my mum always pays half of the party food so it helps me out a lot. I find it much easier to buy cup drinks with straws than using normal plastic cups and squash. I find this avoids spills etc and does not cost that much more. I like to have a themed party but never use themed plates. The usual white ones are fine with a themed napkin on top


                When I arrange a party I always try to book it in a venue this is mainly to avoid my house getting trashed and I think you can get some good value for money venues. I decided to to book our local youth center this time. Costing me £50 for 2 hours you get the hire of a huge bouncy castle with ball pit. The price also includes 3 rooms. The first being the one that has the bouncy castle in, the second a huge climbing area and the third a place where you can eat. I like having the separate room for food as it gives you the opportunity to prepare the food while the children play.


                I always make my own party food and my own cake. I find the cost is lower rather than someone else catering for you. I always let my children choose what cake they would like and this year my daughter choose to have a butterfly cake. I was quite pleased with the outcome and it comes complete with edible glitter. I think in total the whole cake cost me £12 which is great compared to the prices a high street shop would charge. My friend bought hers from Chatwins last year which set her back a massive £50. All for her daughter's 2nd birthday. I found this shocking.


                I think its important to write out proper invitations rather than word of mouth as i have found that people will forget if it is not written down. I am quite disappointed to be honest. I wrote out an invitation to every child in my daughter's class (25 in total) as I did not want anyone to be left out and I got 7 replies saying that they would be coming and 1 to say that they would not. I found this rather rude to be honest but I suppose I would not be able to cope with them many children anyway but even so it would have been nice for them to tell me that they would not be coming, there would have not been any harm.


                My specialty is my loot bags. I always think its a nice way to say "thank you for coming to my party". I always make sure these are nice. I like to make personalized items which always go down well. Like bracelets or key rings for the boys. I found that Asda had a good offer on loot bag toys. They cost £4 for 10 packs. The packs included rubber snakes, games and crayons. I also found a pack of 4 bubbles for £1 in wilkos so I bought them too. I like to include healthy treats like raisins and pa ks of dried fruit. I do include the odd lolly. If small children are coming to the party,I think a good idea is to buy them a small book. I found some lovely ones in Home and bargains. These were lovely board books and only cost 29p each. Its much better than trying to do a loot bag for them.


                I always arrange two games of pass the parcel. I find this really fun. If you put a prize in between each layer it makes the game more satisfying for each child that gets a turn to open the paper. I do not ever go overboard with the prizes. I usually only pay a few pound for each.

                If your child gets a present. I have always found it much easier and convenient to open their gifts at home, this way it will avoid any arguments as kids will fight over toys and also will keep your child focused on their actual party.
                New clothes are also a must have for me. I always like my girls to look nice and the birthday girl wears a big badge so shes easy to identify.


                If you are hiring a room, make sure they supply a CD player as there is nothing worse than a quite party and you will need music for when you are playing pass the parcel.


                I never really bother with decorations as I find children will fight over balloons etc... I have found this in the past so avoid balloons until home time.


                The total cost of my daughters party was £150 I know this sounds an awful lot for 2 hours but she has been looking forward to it for months and seeing the smile on her face tomorrow will make the whole thing completely worth while.

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                  16.04.2009 15:53
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                  Make your kids day the best one.

                  There is nothing better and more thrilling than throwing a party for the children. I love to attend the parties aswell as organise them. If your organising them, you need to be careful not to over-do it. When i went to my nephews 6th birthday party a few weeks back i noticed my sister went for a bouncy castle along with a clown 'Kenzo the clown' and a few Magicians. All this clashed together. The kids don't know which to focus on and they loose interest and their attention turns to beating each other up and not enjoying their day. So keep it simple a bouncy castle will do you.

                  If your going for a theme, this makes everything right. Fancy dress can get everyone involved and all the kids are excited, if kids don't think enough attention is on them, they will create. So fancy dress is always a great way of getting the kids together, thinking up great costumes and maybe prizes for first place, second and runners up will make them put their thicking caps on. Both girls and boys will benefit from this.

                  What people always panick over and stress about is the food. It's a kids party they will eat anything, calm down. But i wouldn't go over-board with it. Simple cocktail stick, sandwiches crisps and the cake is fine. I have been to so many parties of friends where the mums and dads will opt for the fancy and healthy route and you won't see a chocolate, crisp and cake in sight dont fall into this, they are kids and giving them salads and lettuce won't do the trick. You don't have parties that often so, bits of chocolate and drinks won't do them any harm.

                  If your wondering what happens after the food is almost gone, the clown has gone or they are loosing interest in the bouncy castle, then
                  this is where pass the parcel comes in. Kid's absolutely love games and when they know prices are involved they will sit down without even being asked. A few rounds of this will do the trick, some people like to do musical statues, this is also fun. I love catching the kid's out with this and even the adults can get involved and entertain the kiddies.

                  One thing i would advice is dont let the party go on too long. After all the food, bouncing on the bouncy castle, running away from the clown, dancing around and playing musical statues these boys and girls will be going to bed absolutely hyper. So i suggest maybe your party doesnt last longer than 5:30-6pm. All the parties i have been too mostly stop at 6pm and only start in the first place at 2pm. One time i saw a party start at 1pm and end at 8pm. The kids were absolutely tired, drained some being sick, some hyper, this isnt

                  Last but not least, goody bags. Everyone loves to fill these bags for their guest's to take home with them. You don't have to over fill the bags.Kids will accept anything that goes in. A piece of cake, toy, bits and bats will suffice.

                  Hopefully, my advice and suggestions will help you.

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                    08.03.2009 21:42
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                    Parties can be fun

                    My little niece had her birthday a few weeks ago and it was a real eye opener compared with the ones I remember from my own childhood. Maybe there are some Americanisms creeping in but this whole birthday party was run along a theme and there were things like party bags which all addede up over the whole party to make it a rather expensive event, having said that she had a wonderful smile on her face the whole time which I guess made it all worth while for my sister and brother in law.

                    The theme she wanted was Disney and in particular the Little Mermaid so there were lots of decorations along that theme and also the music was from the sound track for some of the time, to save on the DVD my sister had loaded a lot of music onto an i-pod and then played this through some speakers.

                    The cake also fitted in with the theme as it was a replica of Ariel and decorated with some of the other characters. Even the party bags were on the same theme.

                    They did hire an entertainer in the form of a magician who also did a party games as well as this entertainment really made a difference however at £120 for two hours it is not a bad gig however he does include all the invites and party bags in that cost so it is not too bad and takes some of teh hassle out of the whole event however if you add in hiring the village hall and the catering it would have cost at least £200 and that is before any presents are puchased so not a cheap event. Thankfully it is only once a year.

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                      07.03.2009 21:37
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                      Im a bit of a child myself and love attending and throwing kids parties, though you do need to make sure that you dont make your party too tacky and some times parents need to realise that less can be more when it comes to kids.

                      Heres my advice for all those frantic parents who are planning a party for their little angels over their birthdays or the holiday periods.

                      1) Keep it simple
                      Especially with younger children, less can be more, a child cant enjoy everything going on in their party if there is far too much going on, it just makes them all hyper and excited and spoilt, adding to many activities for example a bouncy castle, clown, jugglers all in one party takes the excitement away from each activity and can be a waste of money as most children tire greatly during parties and end up grumpy and tired.

                      2) Themes can be fun
                      Having Princess, Pirate or any other theme for your party can be a great way to make your kids party fun and exciting for younger kids, and will encourage them to use their imagination and play games that you wont have to co-ordinate. This means your kids are being inventive and having fun while you can have a break or concentrate on cooking or cleaning up after the little angels.

                      3) Dont be too fancy with the food
                      Children arent all about their soup de jour and frogs legs, so get them simple and tastey food that they can all enjoy, healthy options are a plus for example carrot sticks and dip, though some kids may refuse this so its best to have some cocktail sausages on standby.

                      4) Dont let it run to late
                      I know that this is a very obvious piece of advise, but kids, especially the younger ones, get really tired and grumpy after a while of partying, so it may be best to make sure that your party doesnt run on too late, past 6pm in my experiance, youll just be left with a bunch of angry fire breathing dragons and sleeping beautys.

                      5) Party gifts
                      Its always nice to have a little party bag filled with nice treats for the party guests, if you opt for a themed party, try and theme your party bags but again dont overdo it, young children appreciate nearly everything they get in a party.

                      I hope my advice helps you with your party planning for your little angels.

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                      07.03.2009 20:06
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                      I think I'll offer my services out and start charging!

                      Well I'm sitting here feeling absolutely exhausted as today has been my youngest daughter's fourth birthday and less than two hours ago we waved goodbye to twelve lovely children who came to a party at our house. Back in January when I started to think about Natalie's party, I researched lots of different options, but eventually we decided to go for a good old DIY party at home for reasons I will explain!

                      These days there are so many different parties you can choose from. Many of my daughters' friends choose to have their parties at the big indoor play barns that we have nearby such as Monkey Mates or Little Angels. Although I can see a certain appeal in these types of parties particularly because the parent does not have to do much organising, they do seem a little bit too impersonal for my liking. The reason I say this is that your party guests are mixing with hundreds of other children that they do not know and it's possible that the first time the party girl actually sees her friends is when they are sitting down for their tea! These parties are generally around £8 per head which for an hour's pay and party food is not bad value.

                      We do have a couple of children's farms near us who offer animal handling parties. These seemed quite a nice idea and came out at roughly £10 per child, but my problem was that having a party at the beginning of March I could not rely on the weather. As it turned out today was lovely, but I'm sure had I actually booked such a party it would have poured - and I would have been on tenterhooks for at least a week.

                      There are loads of different companies that offer lots of different party themes. Most of these have websites where you can visit to find out more but it seems that almost universally, the one thing that you don't find out until you phone up is the price - I wonder why? I rang a couple of places!

                      The first was someone who offered fairy themed parties where all the children would dress up as fairies and do all sorts of fairylike activities. This sounded just the sort of thing my daughter would love and so would I - until I discovered the price which was £250 for two hours! This would have been for twenty five children but I would have been supplying all the food on top of this!

                      I discovered a lovely sounding company who offer to come and run a party where they will cook with your children and they pretty much produce all the food they are going to eat. You could choose from different menus and they woud dress all the children up as chefs which sounded like a lot of fun. I emailed to find out the price only to discover that they would charge £150 for six children. Well considering two of the children would have been the birthday girl and her sister that only left room for four guests!

                      Well call me a cheapskate if you like but there is only so much I am prepared to spend on a party. I much prefer to spend the money on presents for my own children that they will keep and enjoy for a long time!

                      Anyway, after all my research I was telling my husband about what people were charging and I suddenly thought - why am I even looking at getting someone else to run Natalie's party. We are capable human beings and we should surely be able to organise a party ourselves. However, I liked some of the ideas I had been looking at so I thought I would borrow some of these for our party and this is what we came up with!

                      We decided that we would have a total of twelve children including our two. We would organise them into small groups of four and let them have the chance to do different activities. So, this afternoon my husband has been making pizzas three times over. He made the dough in advance but the children rolled out their pizzas and chose their toppings. They also ate the pizzas as part of their party tea and because they were quite filling they took what they didn't eat home to their mums and dads!

                      At the same time I was doing an art and craft activity with another group. I had ordered felt bags and crowns and lots of felt shapes to decorate them as well as felt letters so they could all put their names on. They all seemed to really enjoy making these and as well as that the bags doubled up as their party bags!

                      Our third activity was a game where the children had to stand on various stepping stones which my friend and fellow mum was very happy to organise. By the end of the afternoon all of the children had done all three of the activities and had made their own pizza, bag and crown. We interspersed these with some traditional party games such as pass the parcel and musical statues. We finished off with them all sitting down to a party tea (including home made pizza) and blowing out the candles on the birthday cake (shop bought I confess!).

                      By the end of the afternoon we were exhausted. We had filled two hours and all the children had really enjoyed themselves and overall the party probably cost us no more than £70. We also felt quite proud as well that we had pulled it off and it had all gone to plan. I am not knocking parents who choose any of the other options but having a party at home does not have to be difficult and can be a lot of fun. It was hard work and I suppose I was slightly anxious in the run up but it was definitely worth it - particularly as Natalie enjoyed herself so much! I have to say though that I am glad that they only have to have one a year!

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                        25.11.2008 22:35

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                        1st class celebrations is a 1st class website when planning a party for any occasion, I was planning my daughters 1st birthday party and found lots inspiration once I looked on the site. I found the website easy to browse around and its very well laid out and would defo use this site when planning another party. The parcel arrived a few days after ordering and was in perfect condition.

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                        31.10.2008 19:54
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                        Remember your children don't stay young forever- enjoy it!

                        The advantage of having a ten year age gap between me and my younger sister, and then a 13 year gap between my other younger sister is that when it came to their birthday parties i loved getting involved and organizing things, over the years we must have thrown every type of party available, one year on a budget, the next not having to worry. Both of my sister's birthday fell in the summer months- April and July, so more or less we would have reasonable weather.
                        There are hundreds of idea's out there and plenty of themes you can base your party around depending on what your child likes at the time.
                        Having had two daughters and there birthdays falling 3 weeks of each other, this year it only seemed fair to have a joint party as they turned two and one.
                        Below i will list tips and idea's that have helped me out in the past and hope that someday they might become useful to you.

                        ~Where to hold your party~
                        This depends on many of things, the season ( winter, summer etc) how many people you wish to invite, how old your child is, what your budget is.
                        *A local village hall seems like a best bet if the weather isn't very good and you are wanting to invite a lot of people, many places don't cost the earth and there is plenty of space for activities.
                        *At home/ garden- this is the cheaper option but depending on the size of your house garden does depend on how many people you can invite, you don't have to worry about making mess too much as you can clean it up. Garden parties can only really be held in summer/ spring though.
                        * A play barn- There are hundreds of these scattered across the Uk, and they do all the work, they provide a huge play area, a meal, drinks, birthday cake, card for the birthday girls/boy, and you only have to pay a set amount for each person that comes.
                        * Bowling, ice skating, cinema, swimming parties, these are obviously aimed for older children, again many places do do special party packages and you pay for each person that comes.

                        ~What to eat~
                        We all love party food, and again depending on what type of party you have depends on the food,
                        Sandwiches, sausage rolls, cheese and pinapple, sausage on sticks, veg sticks, fruit kebabs, crisps, breadsticks, all go down well at younger children's parties.
                        For older children i find making a huge buffet often gets left, so i do beef/chicken/veggie burgers, sausages, in bun's, a big bowl of onions, bowl of salad, bowls of wedges, and maybe the odd bowl of veg sticks, cheese etc, for them to pick out while chasing round the house or in between going on the bouncy castle.

                        ~Drinks~ I normally have big jug's of black current or orange squash, cartons of juice, or jug's of water, giving kids fizzy drinks can make them to hypoactive, and some parents may frown upon you!

                        ~Games/ activities~ Musical chairs, musical bumps, sleeping lions, statues, pin the tail on the donkeys, pinyarda, treasure hunts, i also have a activity table where i put colouring pencils,paper, hats, playdough etc.

                        ~Entertainment~ clowns, special children's entertainers, who cater for types of ages,music, Be creative it doesn't matter weather you hire a top class entertainer or have uncle jim who thinks he funny entertain the kids, kids don't mind and are happy at any outcome.

                        ~cake~ Shop brought or homemade, you decide?? i prefer homemade as you can design the cake how you want it, if you're no dab hand in the kitchen ask a family member/friend who you know is? they will probably only charge for the ingredients or do it for free which is a lot cheaper than paying cake shop prices, and at the end of the kids it will end up getting squashed at the bottom of kids party bags anyway.

                        ~Party bags~
                        This depends on girl/boy, age. There is lots if idea's about, but don't get spending to much i normally put in each bag...
                        Piece of cake
                        Small toy-yo yo,toy car, plastic bracelets, small notepad's, pens
                        Small pack of sweets- smarties, haribo, etc
                        A lolly pop
                        A small thank-you note for coming to the party( normally do these on the computer, nothing special but it's a nice gesture
                        And finally a ballon blown up on ribbon tied arounf the handles of the bag.
                        Party bags don't cost a fortures, buying in bulk is cheaper, multi-packs of sweets and lolly pop's, big bags of ballons, bags of pocket money toy's- wilko's, woolworths, online.

                        ~ A few money saving tips~
                        Buy plastic plates, cups, and cutley- you can simply throw away afterwards and you don't have to worry about things getting broken.
                        *Make a list of people who you want to come and stick to it, that way you know how many to cater for.
                        *Hand make invitations, it's fun, and your child can help making it that little bit extra special, or even design them together on the computer- saves time and money.
                        *Ask people to reply before the party so you know how many party bags to make up, what sex, and how much food and cake you will need.
                        *If having the party at your house/garden, make sure all valubles are put away prior to the party starting, also i found putting a gazebo up in the garden is handy for rain or shine as it can protect for from the sun or rain.
                        * Ask a few adults to come round and help supervise.
                        * Ask on the invitations if the child has any allergies.
                        *If booking an entertainer, make sure their reputable, if they ask for a deposit ask for written confirmation to cover your back.

                        And finally have fun, it may seem like hard work but it is fun at the same time, your kid's aren't young for long, and can be done whatever your budget, don't worry about the mess, that can be cleaned up afterwards.
                        It's the smiles on your child's face that is priceless.

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                        28.10.2008 23:32
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                        Be inventive...kids are not fussy!!!

                        I love arranging my childrens birthday parties, and although we do not the parties I organised this year and hopefully some of the ideas may help someone else........

                        ******Little princess party*****

                        My daughter is only three so she is not old enough to demand that her whole class come and every other child she has ever came in contact with so she just had six friends.

                        I made a craft table in the garden (it was a hot day in july) with lots of gems/pom poms, glitter, beads etc etc and cut out some crown shape hats from some cardboard i had from some of the presents she had recieved and they spent over 30 mins decorating their own crown and they loved it, and best of all...all the glitter and mess was in the garden so was easy to clean off with the hose.
                        There lunch consisted of

                        Little jam and ham sandwich but I had a star cookie cutter which i cut all the sandwiches into those shapes.

                        They had teddie bear crisps (they were the mopst girly thing I could find)

                        Cucumber/cherry tomatoes/carotts etc all cut onto stars and diamond and rose shapes

                        They had pink wafer biscuits, pink angel delight.

                        Pink milkshake

                        I made fairy cakes with pink icing and wrote each childs name in white icing on the cakes....and I borrowed one of those posh cake stands from a friend so they had a proper little tea party.

                        I had a disney princess cd and they had that on and were dancing around the garden...was sooooo cute!!!!

                        I also made her cake, i just put loads of pink frosting over a normal victoria sandwich recipe and then used little silver sprinkles to put on the words Happy birthday Princess and I found some little disney princess mini figures from the Pound shop and i put them on the top.

                        Instead of party bags I brought a set of books from the book people for 4.99 and each little girl had a book about a princess, i wrapped them in pink tissue paper and they loved them.
                        I also wrapped up some jelly babies up in some celophane i had with some curly ribbons (this literally cost me 1.50...but I did have the celophane and ribbons already...still have loads...one day I will use it all...seems to last forever!!!)

                        Pink ballons and I made my own banners etc and it turned out to be a perfect princess day. (much to the annoyance of mu hubby and son...hehe!!!)



                        *** Bowling and Cinema party at a bargain cost******

                        This year with my son being six, I asked him what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to go out with his friends somewhere cool!!!!! Well it was a nightmare as all his mates seemed to be having really posh and expensive birthday parties....believe it or not one of his friends even had a limo to take him and his friends who are SIX!!!!! to the cinema and then on for a posh meal!!!!
                        Well I was stuck because I'm good at making fairy cakes and making the best out of not a lot of money but I was completly panicking on how I could do this on out budget!!!
                        Well I needn't of worried....It was cheap as chips to be honest!!!

                        We went to cineworld on a saturday morning and took them to there £1 showing of Ugly Duckling and then went onto Big Aplle bowling where if you before twelve then you get in for £1 per child, so in the end this cost us 14 gbp for the activities and then we took then over to Mcdonalds and they all had a happy meal (why are they called happy meals??? I hate them but once in a while I suppose does not hurt) so another 12gbp so in total and then got the pack of indiana jones books from book people and they all had one each, the party ended up costing me 35 pounds which I think was not too bad and my son loved it and most all all his friends told everyone what a fantastic time they had....so that made me happy enough.

                        There are many cost saving things people can do to keep costs down

                        * make you own invites, really easy and loads of websites that you can print off free invites.

                        *make your own party favours, whether that be some sweets wrapped in celophane, a book, some bubble and a lolly...but don't go mad.

                        *Try and things to keep them occupied for eg. a craft table, a make your own dessert table, salt dough, decorate flower pots etc....keeps them occupied for atleast 1/4 of the time you have them.

                        * Try and make your own birthday cake...it does not have to be perfect even a swiss roll made into a caterpillar...cheap enough. Or make fairy cakes and put a candle on each and then every child gets a wish...... that worked well for my daughters party.

                        * Most of all take photos...lots and lots of them..... as you can keep them for evidence when they are older of how much trouble you went to for their happiness and then maybe they will not put you in a nursing home and look after you...hehehehe!!!

                        I hope some of these little ideas can help someone.

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                          08.12.2006 14:39
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                          Dainty Sue .. Bad Experience

                          Hi, We had been looking for an entertainer for our son's 6th birthday. After an extensive search on the Internet, we approached the above performer, “Dainty Sue,” who had quite an impressive CV published on her website.

                          She confirmed her availability for the required date, and sent us a confirmation email, in which she requested a 30% deposit. A cheque for the requested sum was promptly sent to her. That was a little less than a month before the party.

                          Four days before the birthday, my husband received a phone call from the performer, informing him that she has had a family emergency and would not be able to attend, but said she had arranged for another colleague of hers, “Angela” to entertain at our son’s party. Taking into consideration her family emergency, and being left with very little time to find a replacement performer, we agreed.

                          Despite “Dainty Sue’s” assurances of her colleague’s exceptional experience, skills, we started getting a bit worried after we contacted her colleague, and realized she had no solid references, no website, nothing! But again, at this stage, it was too late to do anything.

                          The day of the party, “Angela,” the replacement performer, arrived on time, changed, and very quickly started engaging the children. I must say that the kids seemed to be quite happy with her, and although she did well within the limits of her abilities, we were not impressed; She only set up a few games, performed one or two (rather poor) magic tricks, she was very (VERY) poorly equipped, lacked initiative, and worst of all, she gave very little attention to the birthday boy. Despite that, we still settled the full remaining amount of the payment initially agreed with “Dainty Sue”.

                          The most terrible part of our experience was when one of the parents told us that she had booked the same performer, “Dainty Sue,” and that the same thing happened with her. We then felt very very bitter .. and although our son’s party went ok, we still wish if we had not booked this entertainer in the first place.

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