Parties on a budget

Kids parties can be hugely expensive. With growing pressures to keep up with the Jone’s, kid’s parties can be a big stress if you’re on a budget. 

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to give the kids a good time. In fact, we’d even say the kids will quite possibly have more fun if you don’t!

When it comes to parties, kids love simplicity! They don’t need loads of different things to have a good time. It’s amusing to see, that often the more lavish a party is, the less the children enjoy it. Quite simply because there are too many activities competing for the kids’ attention: a bouncy castle in one corner, entertainer in the other, then a face painter, a mascot thrown in for good measure and why not a popcorn machine? Sounds amazing but it’s too much!

Kids will become frantic and not be able to concentrate on very much for very long and it’s usually a big stress and panic to squeeze it all in to the 2 hrs.

But having less does not mean doing away with the fun. Far from it. 

The first thing is to decide what you want to do for your kid’s party. Give your child a few options and ask what they think they might like.

Themed children’s parties have loads of mileage and give you a lot of room for creativity at very low cost.

Costumes- You can have a lot of fun making your kids costume and it will cost you nothing. e.g. a pirate costume -get out the scissors and snip away at an old white shirt and tatty old pair of school shirts/ trousers, and a nice red scarf around the head.

Or what about fairy wings cut out from card board and covered in pink wrapping paper and sprinkled with a bit of glue and glitter. These give just a few ideas of how to make costumes from very little. 

Party Invites – if you are computer savvy and have a bit of creative flair you could do your own cool invites on the computer, of just do an Internet search for party invites and download free templates available. 

Make your own Cake – the sky is the limit when it comes to cake ideas.

Decorations – balloons are very cheap and usually all you need to create a super party atmosphere. Just have lots of them!!! You could also make your own colourful paper chains, or get some reasonably priced party decorations from any online party store.

Entertainment – every party needs some sort of entertainment. You could of course do the entertainment yourself but you’d need to be confident you could lead a group of kids through sufficiently fun activities for 2 hours. If you can’t then this is something you might want to budget for. if you are hiring a Children’s entertainer then this is likely to be where most of the cost of your party will go, but you needn’t spend a fortune – if you went for a week day after school, then entertainers are far more likely to give better deals as weekdays are not as busy as weekends. or a morning slot like 11 am – 1 pm

Food – parents can work tirelessly in the kitchen to create the most amazing party food but you’ll be surprised how little kids can eat at parties so do remember this before buying loads or going to loads of trouble. If you want to keep it cheap and simple, sandwiches and crisps and a few finger foods like sweets and small fruit like strawberries, grapes etc. is perfect. Finger food is always best. But if the creative guru in you can’t resist to try and dazzle and amaze, then you can be super creative and theme your food in so many different ways whilst still sticking to your budget. 

Party bags often go in the bin or get left lying around the minute kids get home if they’re just cheap toys, so you might want to settle for a piece of cake and a small but decent quality toy. Or maybe give kids a small pocket sized children’s story book. This has become increasingly popular and kids are far more likely to keep them. You can pick them up in shops for about 50p – £1 each.

A little something different

Children’s Birthday Parties can be a really fun and exciting time. Kids go wild at the thought of kid’s party entertainers being there and when the time comes to plan your own children’s party entertainment, you’ll probably find your child wants the same entertainer to come along to their party too. But parents often get to a point where they have seen so many kids party entertainers and wouldn’t mind a change. Loads of kids in the class have had the same type of children’s party entertainment or the same entertainer and it’s sometimes nice to spice things up a bit!

The problem is of course – what other options are out there? When you think children’s magicians or kids party entertainers, you often think of a silly man or woman in an outfit doing magic, games, dancing, balloons, etc. This is a classic formula for children’s birthday parties and it works very, very well indeed so you definitely shouldn’t necessarily overlook this. For years’ children’s birthday parties have consisted of this and kids still love it today. These are probably the most popular mix of activities for a children’s birthday party so if you haven’t tried that already then that’s probably a good bet to go for as the variety of the activities makes it a hugely fun and safe option.

But nowadays there is a lot of other choice available and if you’ve already seen lots of kid’s party entertainers doing this mix of children’s party activities already it might be nice to try something new.

Science Parties are becoming bigger and bigger at the moment. Think science is boring? Think again! Science parties are barrels of fun! They use really engaging science experiments and demonstrations that are absolutely visually stunning and get the kids involved and are a great way to give kids a brand new and exciting experience. Science Parties are becoming increasingly popular as a form of children’s party entertainment and they tend to be suitable for any age from about 4 all the way to teens. The kids get to see loads of amazing and visually stunning science demonstrations as well as trying out their own super cool science party experiments, where they learn just how much fun science can be! 

Bubble parties are another great idea for children’s birthday parties. Ever seen a kids get wrapped inside a giant bubble? Kids love it! Why not give it a try? 

Other great options are activity parties for kids, drama, clowns, discos, the fact is that when it comes to kid’s party entertainers or children’s party entertainment, the sky is the limit.

Of course you do have to think about budget. Often going bigger with kid’s parties will mean costing more. But then if you’re on a tighter budget, you needn’t be limited by choice. There are lots of themed parties that you could go for that can help inject fun and creativity into children’s birthday parties. Why not try a cool spy party or an around the world party where you play games that are linked to the theme? 

One other helpful tip is to not get too carried away with organising your little one’s special day. It is easily done with all the exciting choices out there. So do remember to talk through what your child wants and that what you are organising is what they’d like to have and not what you think they’d like to have or what you rather like the sound of. After all it is their day and they may still be happy with the original mix of activities that they have seen before.

The Benefits of kids Entertainers

Children’s party entertainers were something of a rare treat at kids parties some twenty years ago. Now they seem to be a necessity for every children’s party. You’d almost be hard pushed to find a child that hasn’t had a children’s entertainer at some point, between the ages of 4-8. As this seems to be the most popular age for kids to have children’s entertainers.

Parents have realised more and more the benefits of getting a children’s entertainer for their kid’s party. Children’s party entertainers certainly help take the stress off of organising a party yourself. Many parents have retold tales of how they organised their own kids party, and whilst it went well they’d never relish the idea of doing it themselves again, owing to the levels of stress that went along with it. Plus, it seems rather a shame, that whilst the kids are having a great party, the parents have so much to organise that they don’t get to enjoy seeing how much fun their kids are having and all the fun activities that children’s entertainers do for the kids. After all a children’s party only happens once every year.

The advantage of hiring children’s entertainers is that they know what they’re doing (well the good children’s entertainers should know what they’re doing!) and so it can take the stress off parents a great deal if they hire someone to take care of the children’s party entertainment for them. It is also much more likely that the kids are going to enjoy themselves a great deal more with a kid’s entertainer than if parents try to do it themselves (unless of course you’re a teacher that is used to handling 30 kids at once) but even then, a kid’s entertainer can usually offer a great deal of variety for children at a party.

That said, even with a children’s party entertainer, there can still be plenty of other things for parents to organise and worry about like the hiring of a venue, organising the food, getting RSVPs back. The best advice is simply to plan well in advance so that is doesn’t have to be done all at once. If done in good time, organising a children’s party should be a really enjoyable experience and dare it be said – fun! But if left to the last minute it can be a daunting and stressful task. All in all, leave plenty of time to plan a children’s party and try to enjoy it!!

Making happy memories

Most people can look back on their childhood and recall a few magical memories from a children’s party that was either thrown in their honour or that they attended in order to celebrate someone else. These occasions often live long in the memory and as a parent, it can be just as exciting to throw your own child a party and give them tonnes of wonderful memories to look back on.
Although kids’ parties can be stressful and slightly challenging to plan; your child is sure to get so much out of it and have such a good time as they celebrate their special day.

Interaction

Let’s face it, kid’s parties are all about having fun but there are real benefits that go with having a party too, that parents probably don’t’ even think about like.

The interaction that children experience with other kids of a similar age is vital in their early development. Their interaction and social skills will be developed as they have heaps of fun, constantly interacting with their friends.

Most of the interacting kids do with their friends is at school, so it’s really nice for them to be able to do this in an environment that is completely different. Not to mention the fact that they gain new experiences like seeing an exciting magic show and puppet shows, etc. Children’s parties can give kids real benefits as it opens up a world of imagination and excitement. Getting to help with the magic tricks can really help your child build their confidence too, especially for those children that tend to be quite shy. Children are always more likely to build confidence whilst doing something fun, new and exciting.

Imagination

One of the most important parts of any kids’ party is the children’s party entertainer and not just because they hold the focus of the children whilst you can take a break. A great children’s entertainer will be able to really amaze the children and open their eyes to host of really exciting activities, invigorate their imaginations. The first time a child sees a seemingly impossible magic trick, or their made to feel really special will provide an unforgettable memory and teach them something really new and intriguing.

A Lasting Smile and a Story to Tell

As a child, there’s nothing more exciting than your birthday party. But as a parent, one of the best parts of throwing a party for your child is the priceless look on their face as they enjoy their special day and the delightful way in which they tell you all things they loved about it.

Less is more

Ask any parent and they will tell you of the increasing pressure they feel when planning a child’s birthday party. The growing competitive element of hosting a children’s birthday party that has recently emerged now means that many parents end up overspending and creating a party that is filled to the brim with far too many activities.

Here at Kiddy Zone, we are well aware of the pressures facing parents, and would like to tell you that those looking to create a memorable birthday celebration for their little one should focus on simplicity and fun and try to ignore, where possible, the feeling that they have to compete with other parents as this can actually result in having an adverse effect on your children’s party!

Do remember that children love simplicity. Not to say the entertainment shouldn’t be good or varied. It should definitely be good and varied. It needs to be engaging, fun and imaginative too. But parents should avoid the temptation to overload their kid’s party with too many activities at the same time as this will end up being over stimulating and confusing. We’ve seen it time and time again where parent book an entertainer, bouncy castle, popcorn machine, mascot, face painter, etc. all in one party that last just 2 hours.

Parents feeling the need to plan a party filled with different activities can actually leave birthday boys and girls so overwhelmed with far too much to take in that they don’t focus properly on any one thing and are unable to really enjoy their special day properly. Instead, parents should choose no more than a handful of activities for the children and to make sure that there is plenty of time for the kids to enjoy all of it.

In the same way, parents that don’t plan enough activities or have any form of entertainment at all, can often find that their children are completely underwhelmed, bored or worse become very restless and start running around and be difficult for parents to control. If there is no structure to the entertainment planned this can happen a lot, which is something all parents want to avoid.

A perfect party has a few fun activities planned for different times, but parents should be prepared for their party ‘timetable’ to change slightly during the celebration so it can be adapted to suit the kid’s energy levels on the day and to accommodate any unforeseen events e.g. food running late.

Science Parties

Science Parties are a relatively new but very exciting kind of children’s entertainment and something extremely varied and engaging for the kids and suitable for ages 4- 12. They are perfect if you are looking to mix fun and excitement with learning all about just how fantastic and fun science can be.

Kids get to watch really colourful and visual science demonstrations as well as fun experiments. Plus, science related games. This is another great option for parents as it’s very different from what you see at most parties. But we’d only recommend this if you know your kids are into science.

The Puppeteer

Puppet shows are great for children of all ages and have been part of our culture for thousands of years. They’re normally aimed at 3-7 year olds but can work for 2 years too. Even if the younger children don’t fully understand the storyline or the jokes, they can still enjoy the visual aspects and get involved with audience participation, which usually includes shouting things to the puppets and doing loads of funny actions.

Puppet shows can be the main event or form part of a huge mix of party activities. Either way, it goes down a treat and is often one of the things kids remember best.

The Circus Performer

Circus performers or clowns are great for children’s parties where the guests are a little bit older (maybe 4 and up) any younger and the kids can get a bit scared of clowns as they don’t like the make up on the face or the red nose and clown wig. Our clowns do loads of fun clown gags and jokes. The parties are very interactive for children. A clown is not something kids see every day so it really adds a brilliant wow factor when your child sees a clown coming to their party for their birthday.

Apart from general clowning around, a clown can be a magician, he can hold a puppet show, do games, juggling, etc. Clowns can be balloon moddlers or, face painters; their versatility really is endless.

Double up

Admittedly, children’s party entertainers and children’s magicians can be quite pricy, and that’s only half the cost. With the credit crunch still looming, a great way to save money can be to have a joint children’s birthday party with another parent. That way you don’t lose out on the fun of having a children’s entertainer at half the cost. Aside from the cost benefits, you can also share the organisation and work load that goes with planning a children’s birthday party. That said, does sharing a children’s birthday party with another parent create a headache in itself?

Common problems can be found amongst parents trying to jointly organise kids birthday parties, like not being able to decide on what type of party to have. Children’s party entertainers alone can be a tricky thing to decide on. Do you have a themed children’s party or children’s magician, clown, etc.? Kids party entertainers can be one of the trickiest things to decide on when having to liaise with another parent. As your child might want something entirely different to what the other parent’s child wants.

Additionally, many parents can find that they have to compromise more than they bargained for, or workload is not shared out equally, and then after having spent a great deal of time and effort organising most of the children’s birthday party, the parent they’re sharing it with isn’t entirely happy with what has been arranged and in the end you’re left wondering if it would have been better to spend a bit extra and be left to organise your own children’s birthday party.

If you’re planning on sharing a children’s birthday party with another parent, it’s best to do it with someone who has the same ideas as you and who is in the same class as your child so the numbers of children don’t instantly double, otherwise your costs go up and you’re saving is far less.

When organising kid’s birthday parties together, the key thing is to have a clear idea of what you both want right from the start. Have a budget set and decide who is going to do what. Look at different types of children’s party entertainment packages that are on offer. 

You’ll also need to figure out who you’re inviting to the party, will it be at home or in a hall, who will organise the food, or if you’re sharing it who will do what. Once you’ve set a clear outline for what you’re going to have and who will do what, that should help prevent there being disagreements along the way.

It can be a great thing for kid’s birthday parties to be organised together. The initial liaising with another parent can definitely be worth the saving, as kid’s birthday parties are not always cheap. Kids party entertainers alone are usually a large part of the cost, so halving that cost can be very helpful. If the workload is shared equally that helps a great deal too. You might also find you can benefit from the expertise of another parent who has organised kid’s parties before. Just make sure you both know if you want similar things before you get too far down the planning stage.

Getting the right entertainment

When planning a children’s party, one thing that will be firmly on your list of things to do is ‘hire the entertainer’. However, with so many different kinds of performers available, how do you go about choosing the perfect person to keep your little guests engaged for the duration of the event and to take the stress off you?

There are loads of different options to choose from to make it a fun occasion but it’s important to choose what is right for your child and what you know they will enjoy.

The Magician

A brilliant magician can really add a sense of wonder to your kids party. Watch as the children are left amazed at the seemingly impossible tricks performed in front of their eyes and then encouraged to get involved in some of the magic themselves. It can be a lot of fun for parents too, particularly seeing how baffled kids are by how the magic is done.

A magician is usually great for children around the age of 4 and above. This way they will be old enough to understand what is going on but still young enough to be mesmerised by the idea of magic.

Party Food

An important part of any child’s birthday celebrations is the party food, and parents who are choosing to do the spread themselves will want to create a feast that is guaranteed to get eaten. Naturally, dishes you choose will be dependent on what kind of party your child is having but there are a few ways in which you can make sure that your party food goes down a treat.

Mix Staples with party food ‘Experiments’

It’s always fun to create your own fun dishes. You can get loads of ideas form the internet. No matter what you do it’s almost certain that some dishes will be more popular than others. You therefore should aim to create a spread that is a mix of good party food staples like cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, sandwiches, etc.…with ‘experimental’ plates like party themed cupcakes, food shaped as characters from a theme, etc.… Whilst planning the menu, make sure that you consider what leftovers you may have, and how you would use them too as there can be a lot of food left over.

With classic children’s party food such as crisps and biscuits, buying multipacks and refilling will mean that any leftovers you have are fresh and easily used in lunch boxes and for snacks. With more ‘experimental’ dishes, make sure that you and your family will be willing to eat them if left untouched.

Check for Allergies

When sending out the invites, it might be suitable to request any dietary information from parents that will help you create a spread that can be enjoyed by all. Parents of children with severe allergies or special dietary requirements may already know they need to contact families prior to attending birthday parties to avoid issues on the day, but some will assume that they will be catered for or forget to mention it.

By asking families to provide details of special diets, you can include (or not include) certain dishes that means no one at the party goes hungry.

Presentation isn’t necessarily everything

Do try not to add unnecessary stress or pressure on yourself. Most parents are on the quest to create the perfect children’s birthday celebration and therefore may think that presentation of their party food is essential. Of course it’s fun to make things look nice and show some thought. Although presentation and display of party food may be important to adults, do remember it’s not necessarily noticed by the children and it is a kid’s party after all.

If you have the natural creative flare and want to put on a great spread of fantastic looking kids party food, then why not!! But if it’s going to stress you out then do remember that with all the excitement that is created from entertainers, party games, and celebrating with friends, when it comes to picking from a selection of party food, children won’t be too fussed about any delicate arrangement, but more about taste and variety and you could have gone to all that trouble only to find it not being appreciated afterwards.

Of course if you’re making party food together with your children, before the party, then your kids will love this as it gets them involved in their party even more and it’s a great activity to do with your kids.

What Not to Do

Sometimes the best way of doing something well is to learn a few things that you should avoid doing. By discovering certain practices and helpful pointers, you can make your whole children’s party planning process a lot less stressful and you can ensure thing go as smoothly as possible.

Whether you are organising a celebration for your child’s birthday, a party to wash away the winter blues, or an event for any other occasion; here are some things you may want to avoid.

Inviting Too Many Guests

The stresses involved on the day of your party are likely to be directly proportionate to the amount of children you invite. Whilst it’s often a good idea to invite everyone in your child’s class, to avoid anyone feeling like they have been left out, this will ultimately depend on the space you have available and the amount of other parents you have managed to rope into helping you out. If the party is going to be staged in a small room or you only have limited help available, it may be wise to restrict the number of little guests so that things are a bit more manageable on the day.

Eating too early

One of the most anticipated and important parts of any kid’s party is the food, but if you offer this up too early then you could struggle to regain order amongst the troops. Instead, it is a good idea to build up to the food and have it near the end of the event. This way if anyone spills anything down them they haven’t got to sit through the rest of the party in dirty clothes, and you won’t have to try and get them settled again before they go home to their parents.

Trying to Do Everything Yourself

Although you will be proud of the party you have planned, there is a danger that doing everything yourself will make it a much more stressful process. This is especially true on the day. After you have put in all the effort prior to the occasion, why not take some time to relax during the actual event?

Ignoring The Wishes of Your Child

Although you will be doing most of the planning, the main aim of the party is to give your child the best time they could wish for. This means that you should think about them in every decision you make. There is little point in wasting money on expensive decorations and gourmet food if all they would like is a few balloons and their favourite snacks. It’s always a good idea to ask them their preferences for the party – maybe give them 3 or 4 suggestions to choose from so it helps with the decision making process, and then you can guarantee they are going to love whatever you plan for them. More importantly, it also means you’ve involved them in the process and it makes them feel much more like it’s their party. Try to avoid going to the other extreme though and allowing your child to have all the say, and giving them too much choice, or you may struggle to make any decisions about the party.

Kids party menu

Are you about to have a party for your little one? Are you busy, frantically planning for all eventualities? It has probably not escaped your attention, but the party menu can be a vital and often time consuming component in any children’s Birthday party.

Have no fear; we are here to give some helpful advice! Whether you are looking for crowd-pleasing results or something a little healthier, we have something for you below:

First check for possible food allergies

Planning the food for any party can often be a challenge, as one has to always think about the dietary requirements of other kids. It’s quite possible that you will have some children with allergies or intolerances. Often the parents will have told you if this is the case but it is worth checking yourself to be sure. (maybe ask parents to mention this on your party invites)
If you do have certain allergies or dietary requirements to cater for then you may want to ensure the food for that child is on a separate plate so it makes life easier for them and also doesn’t run the risk of contamination of their food with things they can’t have e.g. for nut allergies.

Planning the party ‘menu’

Children are the most honest of guests. – If they don’t like something they won’t eat it. Some children won’t like ham, others won’t like tuna – so put on an even spread of sandwiches with a variety of fillings, so you aren’t left with some kids that don’t want to eat anything grand then go home hungry.

Trying to trick your own children into eating fruit and vegetables may be a constant battle at the best of times, but in a party scenario it could prove even harder. And it is a party after all so perhaps now isn’t the best time to worry too much about healthy eating.

That said, learning to hide the greens is still possible – have you thought about cooking a delicious vegetable cake, for example a carrot cake?

Our suggestion though would be to have a good mix of sandwiches, fruit and veg that can be eaten by hand.e.g. cherry tomatoes, cucumber and carrot sticks, cheese cubes, then a nice range of crisps and sweets. A simple range of food like this makes life easier and also reduces allergy issues.

Keeping the kids sweet!

There seems to be a law of balances involved at every stage of the menu planning process. On the one hand, too much sugar can turn your party into mayhem, whereas on the other, too little could make your food too boring.

Aiming at the middle is the way forward. Cake, crisps and jelly are the traditional vouch-safes; but you could also consider throwing in some chocolate-dipped fruit or fruit juice for good measure.

What to drink?

If presented with a choice, children will almost always opt for the sugariest option. Preparing drinks on a tray before-hand and distributing them as a matter of course can help deal with this issue. You could even try distributing glasses of milk, should the sugar intake be reaching dizzying levels. But to make life easier we’d suggest juice boxes as they’re nice and easy to put on the table, reduce spillages and are easy to throw away.