18 February 2017

An Easy Kids 4th Birthday Party

I don't want to sound like a mean mom but I am going to put off spending money on my kids birthday party until I absolutely have to. It will come sooner for my eldest who has his birthday in November. Jim, a June baby, will be having his parties in the garden at home until he's old enough to go to the pub, and then no doubt he will return with his friends, inebriated, to the garden.

4th Birthday Party
Ned and his giraffe cake
It is sort of more effort on your part, they will need entertaining a bit but from my experience there will be a certain amount of over-excited running around and getting every single toy out and onto the floor. This will take up quite a lot of the time as will feeding them anything so really one activity and one or two party games will do for 3/4 year olds. Indeed for Ned's 3rd birthday we just did pass the parcel and let them dash around with a load of balloons and that seemed to do the trick. You don't have to pay a huge amount to a venue and then worry about people turning up and although you do have to do some food prep and the clearing up it has, so far, not been too arduous.

I think either 11-12.30am or 3-4.30pm is a good time for a party. Half my friends prefer the morning as it leaves you the rest of the day to get on with stuff. Half of them prefer the afternoon as it means you can have a lazy morning at home knowing there is an 'activity' in the afternoon. This year we went for the morning as we had it on 5th November and I thought it would give people time to head off to fireworks things in the afternoon. Ned's birthday is actually on 1st November so quite often an afternoon party is better for us if we've been to a Halloween party the day before. 

Ned is into girls things which also posed a problem. The majority of his friends, my friends kids born at the same time, are boys so I needed to find something that would appeal to the pink, glitter, princess loving Ned and not be completely dull for his batman, train loving buddies. I decided we'd decorate crowns, partly because they are unisex and partly because I found a pack of them pretty cheap on Amazon. Then I went to Poundland and bought loads of glitter brush pens, glittery star and flower stickers and some white paper tablecloths. I stuck the tablecloths onto the kitchen table with masking tape, put paper (Paw Patrol) cups all down the table with pens and stickers in and let them go for it with the decorating. They all loved it, even those who seemed not too keen at the beginning and it's a great thing for them to do when they maybe don't know everyone there - it's a 4 year olds ice breaker. Total cost was around £10.

Then we played pass the parcel and they ran around playing with toys and screaming while their crowns dried and I put food on the table. Food that can be done in advance is a must so I can spend the actual party eating sausages and drinking prosecco.  It's tempting to want to just offer healthy things but my view is that they won't get eaten and it's a party, you can feed your kid an apple when you get home.

For the food I usually let Ned have a certain amount of say in what he wants. For their 1st birthdays I do a plate of blueberries, raspberries and grape halves but from 2 onwards that seems to get ignored for sausages. Which is understandable. So I usually go for two types of sandwiches cucumber, and cheese and ham seem firm favourites in this house though sometimes I separate the cheese and ham if I have the time, or the inclination. Also all of these are fine made ahead (I sprinkle the cucumber with salt in a colander to drain the water out so the sandwiches don't go soggy) and kept in the fridge with damp, scrunched baking paper and clingfilm over the top. Lots of sausages and ketchup as parents and kids love these. My cheese cows made into star shapes and packets of pom bears and party ring biscuits. Houmous with carrot sticks and cucumber are also a good idea if the party is over lunch or supper time.

Luckily for me we seem to have formed a family tradition where my long-suffering mother makes the cake and this year Ned unhelpfully wanted one in the shape of his favourite animal and best loved toy Helen. A giraffe. Big success though I'm pretty sure my mumma needed therapy afterwards.

No doubt next year when he's just started school we will have to rent somewhere as he'll have his entire class to invite (is that really a thing? I'm dreading it) and I really don't think I can make them all play outside in the dark and the rain of November. Can I?


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