Our eldest has had a big party every year for her birthday – even through two pregnancies and the year her sister came along – but now that we have three kids it’s simply not going to be possible to continue the tradition. You can’t throw one a party without the others getting one, so Hubby and I set to work months ago in order to lower her expectations.
We went round the houses thinking of other options. In the mix were Peppa Pig World, Legoland, a theatre show, going away for the weekend. Then it dawned on us that doing any of these things would:
– be more expensive than a party
– higher her expectations not lower them
– send the completely wrong message
Her birthday was on Friday, and on Tuesday evening we decided we’d let her invite her three besties over after school for a play date. All three parents accepted the following morning, and the excitement began. One of her friends couldn’t actually make it in the end, so it was three five year olds and our 2yo, but they had a ball.
We had a really nice morning and packed our new 5yo off to school as usual. Then time disappeared as it does when you’re entertaining a toddler who is refusing to nap, feeding a hungry baby and getting no help from hubby because he’s actually working from home and not just pretending to! Needless to say we didn’t go overboard with decorating the house – just put some bunting and balloons up, and had the Frozen soundtrack on when they got back, but they loved it.
For tea I made pizza bases and (tomato free) sauce, then chopped up various toppings so they could all create their own. I did something similar with cupcakes and various icing flavours and toppings for desert, along with strawberry or chocolate milkshakes which went down a storm. The two courses were interspersed with trampoline bouncing and mud pie making in the garden. Then it was time for birthday cake, who doesn’t like chocolate fudge cake? I didn’t do party bags, but gave our guests some leftover cupcakes to take home instead – in a brown paper bag with their names on – which again they loved!
The two girls were gone by 6.10, at which time a couple of neighbours’ kids were hovering by our garden and invited themselves over. It was great as they kept our two entertained while I cleaned the kitchen. They had a late night by their standards, but were asleep by 8pm and slept all night long. The true mark of a successful party!
The whole thing only cost around £10 in ingredients we didn’t already have, and took minimal time to set up but we still had a very happy five year old on our hands. Just goes to show once again, that the best things in life don’t have to be complicated or expensive.