If there’s one thing I’ve learned with four birthday parties on my mommy resumé, it’s that parties are expensive. Even without all the bells and whistles, hosting a party makes a sizeable dent in one’s budget. But, fear not, dear zombies, it is possible to throw a fabulous party without selling one of your kidneys on the black market.
1. Have it at home
Party venues are cool. There are farmyard venues and play venues and princess venues – and they cost a fortune to hire. But all you really need is a backyard, perhaps a swimming pool, and you’re all set. We don’t have a garden big enough for a horde of sugared-up children to run wild, so we’ve used our parents’ houses to host our daughters’ parties.
2. Email invitations and thank you notes
Themed invitations are very pretty. They’re also unneccessarily expensive and you probably won’t use all of them, leaving you with the dilemma of what to do with the extras. You don’t need fancy Photoshop skills to design your own. I just grab a picture off the Internet and make up an invitation in Powerpoint. Easy peasy. Plus, you’re saving the forest.
3. Don’t have it over lunchtime
If your kids are little, you’ll be catering for their friends’ parents too. If your party is at a mealtime, your guests will probably expect more than the snacks laid out for them. Which brings me to my next point . . .
4. Don’t feed the grown ups
It’s a children’s party. Don’t feel obliged to provide adult-friendly snacks. Biltong and pretzels will do. Besides, what grown up is going to resist the kiddies’ snack table anyway? (Not me.)
5. Ask your friends to help
Some of your friends may offer to help. Take them up on this! When my friends or family members ask me what they can do, I always ask them to bring a plate of eats – which solves the problem of what goes on the grown ups’ table.
6. Simplify the décor
Let’s be honest: we don’t decorate for the kids. We decorate for the other moms. But do we really need an elaborate centrepiece and themed paperware? Are the kids even going to notice their chairs have covers? Whatever happened to a simple picnic blanket on the grass? Plain, coloured paper plates and cups work just as well as the ones with pictures on. Add a few balloons and you’re good to go.
7. Stick to the essentials
Is that piñata really necessary? Do you need 20 different snack options? Will it kill your child not to have her entire class at her party?
(The answer, in case you’re wondering, is no.)
8. Don’t provide party packs
I suspect that party packs were invented as a form of passive aggressive revenge between moms. “You gave us 10 suckers so we’ll give you 11. Ha! Enjoy the sugar rush!” In our house, Hubby and I raid the party packs. For the girls’ good, of course.
This year, I have decided not to provide party packs. Poppet’s friends will be receiving a handmade item when they go home from her party. (You’re welcome, friends.)
9. Make your own cake
I don’t know what I would do without Ina Paarman, some butter icing and an edible print. Voilá! A birthday cake for about R100. (And a feeling of accomplishment that’s priceless, really.)
What tips would you share?