How to Host a Birthday Party and Actually Enjoy Yourself

Host a Birthday Party

My beautiful, sassy, unique, darling firstborn turned seven today. She was promised a birthday party this year, and started planning it in February. Seriously, the second her brother and sister’s birthdays had been and gone Polly set about making the invitations.

We originally thought we had a booking at a large venue, so were free and easy with numbers, and at the peak of collating RSVP’s we had around seventy guests coming, ranging from six months up to seventy years old.

A few weeks ago we discovered that there had been a mix up with the venue, so we decided to have the party at home. I’ll be honest, I did have a little wobble when we first found out, but then I figured that it would all come together in the end. Plus chances are we’d have a few drop outs, which would make the numbers a bit friendlier.

I’m very pleased to report that it did all work out wonderfully well in the end, and everyone, including myself, had an absolute ball on Saturday afternoon. Just in case you’re planning on throwing a party yourself, and need a few pointers, I thought it might be useful to share our experience and some tips. Hope they come in handy, and best of luck!

birthday party excitment

The guest list

Just as a recipe is only as good as the ingredients you use, a party will only ever be as good as the guests you invite. My least favourite parties are the soul-destroying-soft-play-hell ones that people usually have when inviting classmates you hardly know. The food is usually disgusting, the kids run around like loonies, and it always, always ends in tears. Our parties are the polar opposite, because we only invite great friends, and you can’t go wrong in any area of life when you’re surrounded by good friends. Over half the people who came on Saturday live in our development, and all know each other really well. The others are the folks we consider to be family – after all friends are the family we choose. It’s always wonderful to get your nearest and dearest under the same roof.

The food

Regular readers will know that we’ve had a roller coaster ride of it with allergies in our house, and for many years Polly had to take a packed lunch with her to birthday parties. Knowing how awful it is for a child to have to do this, I didn’t want any of the kids to feel excluded on Saturday. We had egg, nuts and wheat allergies to cater for, as well as sugar free families and vegans, so I kept the food super simple. For savoury nibbles I did tons of salted kettle chips (three ingredients) and huge platters of veggie crudities and home made hummus.

Instead of a birthday cake that half the kids couldn’t eat, we had home made chocolate fondue (coconut oil, cocoa and maple syrup) and a table filled with fruit. We gave the kids bamboo skewers, and they made their own kebabs to dip in the choc sauce. They were all thrilled with it, and it kept them busy for about half an hour, which was an added bonus! I did extra nibbles for the adults, as well as beers, and I made a fab gin punch which went down a storm. Rather than make a big deal about the food, we just had it all out from the start and everyone helped themselves when they were hungry.

Polly’s 7th birthday #party yesterday afternoon was a resounding success! As we had various #allergies to cater for, rather than make a cake half the kids couldn’t eat, I did a huge fruit platter, made a #chocolate fondue, then gave them bamboo skewers to make their own #fruit kebabs to dip in the choc sauce. They had an absolute blast, and went home with big smiles on their faces #howtowinatakidsparty Just in case you were wondering, here’s the #recipe. Enough for 35 kids, and a few adults Whisk together 300ml #coconut oil and 100g pure #cocoa powder, then gradually add 100-200ml maple syrup little by little, and sweeten to taste #refinedsugarfree #paleo #dairyfree #glutenfree #healthy Chop into bite sized pieces… 1kg #grapes 1kg #strawberries 400g #blueberries 8 #bananas 8 #mangoes 6 #kiwis 4 #apples 4 #pears 2 #pineapples

photo posted by Reneé Davis (@mummytries) on

The entertainment

We toyed with the idea of hiring an entertainer, but decided against it to try and keep the costs down, and I’m really glad we did, because we honestly didn’t need one! We had a few outside games set up in the garden, which the kids played with as and when they wanted to. We also set up a craft table, and bought a job lot of wooden keyrings, mini cardboard photo frames, fabric pens and stickers, and the kids decorated their own. These doubled up as party bag fillers too, which personally I much preferred over the usual plastic crap that goes inside them. We did a pass the parcel, which was great, but were rather taken aback by how serious the kids took it, so very political. Some of the older kids did face painting for the younger ones, and between everything going on, there was no boredom, or tears.

The party bags 

We bought paper goodie bags from Amazon, and in addition to the keyrings and photo frames, each guest got a book (that we picked up from the library in one of their sales for 20p each), a hand written thank you note from Polly, and a bag of Bear sweets. The total cost of the party bags worked out to be less than £3 per child, and everyone loved them. This just goes to show that you don’t have to compromise or spend a fortune to please the children. I’ve heard of parents spending £20 per head on party bags, and I’m sorry but I think that’s just pure madness.

The verdict and top tips  

– a party will only be stressful if you over complicate it, so keep the order of events as simple as possible.

– ensure you have plenty of help on hand just in case you need it, I do this by bribing the parents with booze and nibbles.

– our house is a modest three bed, and has a garden the size of a postage stamp, but even with fifty odd people in it, it never seemed too cramped (thankfully the rain held off!)

– buy arts and crafts in bulk to save £££

– if you have healthy food on offer, it will get eaten.

– seeing smiles on the faces of your guests will tell you that you’re winning.

– if you’re having fun, others will follow 🙂

I’d like to say a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Miss. Polly, and a big thanks to all who came and made Saturday so special. Extra thanks to my lovely friend Mel for taking some gorgeous photos!   

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