Every year I plan a big party for Z and this normally starts 6 months in advance. This means; other than thinking of a theme, I start looking for deals and prices, I purchase and spread the cost over the 6 months and I eat Daddy’s head for a continuous 6 months!
I normally keep the price of everything very low and a lot of it is done in house – from catering to creating invites and decorations and so forth. I only really spend money on personalised party bags/gifts, cake and possibly some specific themed decorations.
However, these parties are never at home (our tiny little flat) as she has so many little cousins and friends – there isn’t space to fit them and the adults all under our roof so we always opt for an outdoor venue. These outdoor venues cost. A lot. On a minimum, £200 will be spent just solely on the venue for 2 hours, crazy! I always complain about it, nothing ever changes and we end up spending money that to be honest wouldn’t need to be spent if we had the space ourselves.
This year I decided to be different. I couldn’t think of budging out £200 quid again, so we decided no party for when she turns 4. You’re probably thinking that’s a bit cruel. But considering, that I was now living off my maternity pay and we had an extra little mouth to feed we had to give in somewhere. But we were going to compensate. Instead we would have 1 cake at each grand parents house and a nice day out as a family to the Science museum and Pizza Express.
In my head it was all planned out – minimum spending, but still lots of fun. Then her friends birthdays began and the excitement in her eyes at each party made my heart melt. How could I not throw a going to be 4 year old a party with her friends and cousins. It didn’t feel right. Now you are looking at this being 2 weeks before her actual birthday. I discussed the specifics with daddy and came up with a plan.
We decided to give her a surprise. I messaged 3 of her friends mums and 3 of my cousins that have the same/similar aged children as her. They all said yes and a date and time was set. We invited them to ours, as it was a mum and daughters party so a very minimum amount of screaming children and just enough space for the parents to sit comfortably. This was the first time I was going to have so many children of the same age under our roof at one time, so I had to do a lot of clearing up and room adjusting but we figured it all out.
I then went off theme hunting. Z is at such an awkward age where she is into a billion different things so it was very hard to decide on one particular theme. Also I was running out of time to get things ordered in. So in the end I ransacked my party storage boxes to see if I had anything of decency left that would work for her. Lo behold I came across a goldmine full off plates, matching cups, napkins and more. The plates/cups and napkins were pink and white bubbles. I found an old cream plastic table cloth perfect for our main table and a pink one that I could use for the girls on the floor when they would eat their meal. Next came the decorations; out came Pink and Cream tissue hanging flowers that I ended up sticking to the wall and a mixed amount of pink, white and hot pink balloons. Pastel coloured confetti for the table and lots of pink ribbon from last year. As well as that I would reuse the gold Birthday banner I have used an ample amount of times before. What luck, I hit the jackpot. Everything I needed was under my own roof already – and there was her theme, pink, cream and gold voila. The only items I needed to buy was some tissue paper rolls to decorate the ceiling with, a cake (which I was going to buy from the local supermarket as it was too late to get anything custom made) and some party gifts.
I had one major shop to do that included what was going to be served at the party. I kept the menu very low key that would feed both adults and children. From vegetable pasta salad, pizza pastry slices, finger vegetables and crisps with dips and an added extra for the adults – Moroccan chicken and couscous. I made sure everything was made at home (other than the crisps) so that I knew exactly what was going into the food and could make sure of any child’s allergies/dietary requirements were taken care off. For the drinks, I kept it again very simple – nothing too sugary, so diluted juice (very diluted, as I forgot to pick more up and pretty much ran out half way through the party oops) for the kids that I placed in a drinks dispenser and a couple of Sholer bottles for the adults.
I set up a small sweets table that included milky buttons, chocolate m&m’s, skittles, candy floss on sticks and laces. It was a much smaller one than I normally place together but worked really well for the amount of people invited.
For the party gifts, I kept the budget to the minimum and found a collection of books that were age appropriate and got one set for each child, wrapped up in beautiful patterned paper with a bright orange ribbon and pink/white gift note. Each child took home that, a small packet of mixed sweets and a slice of cake.
To make the event flow, I finally got round to making a massive playlist of Disney hits with the addition of a few of Z favourite songs. These went down a treat as the girls loved listening and dancing to them. Her birthday song was ‘I want to be King’ from the Lion King (we are in love with this at the moment).
Overall the party was a hit, The children ran rampage through the living room and Z bedroom, but mainly stayed in her room so the adults all relaxed in the living room together. This worked out better than I imagined as everyone had their own space and it didn’t feel claustrophobic. I planned on getting the girls to decorate mini cupcakes with ready made icing and lots of sprinkles and sweets which went down a treat especially when they looked at their own and smiled with pride.
Having this type of last minute party setting made me realise that from now on, As Z is growing up her parties are going to get smaller and more tight knit and that means no more spending large amounts on outdoor venues in middle of December. Instead we can do something small and fun in our little flat that she will love just as much and so will the guests.