Here’s a piece of interesting news: five to seven year olds know almost nothing about the cost of anything. So next time your child’s invited to a party on a real pirate ship or tropical island or whatever other kind of excess, competitive parents are getting up to these days, don’t be too impressed, because the chances are the kids didn’t even notice the uniqueness (or the extravagance) of the venue. Getting the place right is important but if you substitute imagination for spend and get your little party giver on board with the planning, you don’t have to hire Mauritius for the afternoon. Here are four easy to find venues which give you plenty of scope to create a brilliant bash without breaking the bank.
If the pressure’s on to have a theme party and you live within an hour of a beach you can have the best adventure completely free – do a recce to check out the tide times and make sure there’s plenty of playable sand. Treasure map invitations are fun for kids and a good way to give parents travel directions. For food, think picnic and pack individual bags with sandwiches, fruit, a drink and treats in advance – take extra in a cool box and don’t forget plenty of wipes, kitchen roll and bin bags. Keeping little guests busy is the trick to a great beach party, so get grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends on board to help with activities and games. And if you buy stuff like beach flags, Frisbees, kites and balls give everyone things to take home and pick up a selection of inexpensive buckets to put them in instead of party bags.
Best Beach Hint: Open your invitation to parents too so they can stay and join in the fun if they want, cuts down on travel and gives you ready-made helpers.
A kitchen or living room that opens out onto the garden with glazed external bifold doors is the perfect weatherproof venue for a children’s party. This classic is always good fun, a lot easier than it looks and it’s completely free so you can afford entertainment, if you don’t want to do all the work yourself. As a basic guide, divide your party into three parts. Start with easy games in the garden until everyone arrives. Move indoors for sit-down food and birthday cake. Then back into the garden for entertainment and a run-around before home time. There’s no limit to party themes and you can even make up your own like an Art Party with paint and craft stations, Football Party with pop-up goal posts and a handy grown-up to teach ball skills or a Girlie Party with face-painting, hair braiding and dancing. These all work well if you can rope in some willing teens to help out.
Great Garden Hint: Parties are exciting enough without the sugar-high, so save sweets for party bags.
Pick a local park and you can have a children’s party free of charge as long as you don’t break any byelaws – usually no alcohol or loud music, so not likely to ruin anyone’s fun too much. This is a great spring or summer idea and fantastic if you want to double (or triple) up with other parents and have a joint birthday bash. Check the park you like on a few different days to see how busy it is and where’s best for your party – big grassy spaces are better than play areas. Contact your local council, just in case there are area-specific rules that might affect your party plans. And, if it’s going to be sunny, stock up on sunscreen, spare hats and take plenty of water and fruit juice. We also did this for Charlie's 2nd birthday!
Perfect Park Hint: Overload with picnic blankets so you have somewhere to sit and eat and a place for kids to cool off.
Wild Wood Party
Several fantastic National Trust woodland properties host children’s parties for up to 20 kids as part of their ’50 Things To Do before you’re 11¾’ programme. The venues aren’t free, but National Trust Rangers provide the wild fun so you don’t need to worry about entertainment, party games or anyone being bored. And if you aren’t near a National Trust property, there are forests and woods all over the UK where parties are possible. Depending on your area you might need a permit, so it’s best to check with a local council in advance. Or you can contact the Woodland Trust to find somewhere that works well for your big forest adventure. You might remember that back in August Megan had a woodland 7th birthday party, where we went on a scavenger hunt and had a homemade pinata! We went to a country park that has lots of exciting resources to explore from the bird hide to climbing honeysuckle! It was probably the cheapest and best party I've held!
Wonderful Woodland Hint: Keep the numbers manageable, plan activities in advance and make sure you clear up everything after the party’s over.
And last but definitely not least, don’t forget to have fun. Wherever you have your party that’s all anyone really remembers.
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