I’m getting good at this, if I may say so myself. With three birthday parties under my belt I can safely say that I think I have the near perfect formula. So, without further ado:
Entertainment- whether you have 13 or 30 kids, you need to keep them amused. The party is for them after all. Keep the little ones happy and you are almost all the way there. Don’t and you could have a riot on your hands. Entertainers weren’t all born equal. Ask for recommendations or go with whomever impressed you at another party. Failing that, it’s always worth asking for recommendations in relevant groups on Facebook. One of my favourites for this is Top Tips 4 Mums. We always go with Tara and The Giggle Company-you can’t get better!
Second on the list is balloons and paraphernalia. I’m taking about streamers, food boxes (more of which later), novelty tableware for the kids and disposable cups and plates for the adults (makes clearing up a doddle). We got everything from Partyrama; the most amazing one stop party shop on the Internet. Use them and you can kill twenty birds with one stone. They have everything from balloons to going home bags to paper tablecloths to your child’s favourite character in life-sized cutout. There sell great packages for balloons where you get the helium canister and balloons together and you can order by theme, so we chose ‘age 3’; convenient and really reasonably priced. Don’t get caught out paying for balloons already inflated – it’s more expensive, plus inflating is easy.
Number three is the birthday cake. No self-respecting party can take place without one. Now, there has been a leaning towards lollipop cakes; little round ‘lollipops’ made of cake. It makes sense as there’s no cutting and you get a ready-made dessert. I however favour the traditional option for younger kids. The look on their faces when they see a big cake in the shape of Fireman Sam (in our case), is priceless. Blowing out the candles is a rite of passage too. Understandably, cakes can cost a lot. My Facebook research led me to Maja of Sparkly Desserts. An amazing woman who can literally replicate anything you show her at very reasonable price, she delivers throughout London too. Our Fireman Sam was the most delicious sponge (not too sweet or sickly), filled with a rich chocolate ganache that even the adults enjoyed. Bring out the cake before the food so it gives you time to cut it for dessert and you are sorted!
Fourth on the list – food. Let’s be clear, it’s the adults that you need to cater for at a three-year old’s birthday. Kids never eat much so the key is not to worry. Without breaking the bank, I would recommend a good cheap prosecco with juice to top up for Mimosas or drink separately. Lidl does an award-winning version. Next, some vegetable crisps, a good selection of biscuits and some bridge rolls with egg, smoked salmon and cream cheese. All of the former bought in Lidl with one mum asking if the biscuits were home-made, they definitely hit the spot! For the kids, I’ll keep in brief; a small bottle of water, a packet of child-friendly crisps, two carrot and two cucumber batons, a cheese roll/mini pizza and a small pack of Haribo. Done. Don’t give any more sweets -parents don’t like it. Remember the food boxes I mentioned before? Well, fill these will all the above and a serviette and distribute directly after the entertainment. Use your entertainer. Ask her to get everyone sitting in a circle on the floor ready for food. Remember, sing Happy Birthday first, bring the cake, then take away for cutting whilst the kids tuck in, ready to be handed out ask they finish up.
Fifth and last on the list is something that parents agonise over; going home presents. I’ll make this really easy for you and help you impress all the other parents. Simply buy a big batch of children’s story books and let the children pick one as they leave. Simple! This avoids filling bags with plastic rubbish and sweets; no sugar highs, no unwanted rubbish just a nice educational gift that will last and be useful! We went directly to Walker Books. They publish some of the best classic and modern enchanting children’s stories on the market today.
So, there you go. Five ways to make a simple yet effective and fabulous third (fourth or fifth or sixth etc) birthday party without breaking your morale or the bank. Just put on your glad rags (Alexander’s on the day, courtesy of the new, exclusive, yet affordable brand Marasil; just arrived in the UK at Westfield) and enjoy!