When did kids’ parties get so complicated?
You’ve probably seen the news story doing the rounds today about the £16 invoice sent to the parents of a boy who was a ‘no show’ at a friend’s party at a dry ski slope.
I’m sure like many others, I thought that this was totally outrageous. However, from firsthand experience, I know how stressful it can be (or how stressful I make) organising a child’s birthday party, and how costs can start to spiral even when planning something rather more modest than a party on a ski slope.
Did she just flip out and send the invoice in a moment of post-party madness?
Here are my top five party organisation headaches (I think they call these First World problems):
1) Too many guests turn up on the day
You’ve carefully calculated, done the correct number of party bags, the right amount of food and the right number of layers on the pass the parcel; then you get a couple of extra on the day. I always do plenty of food and extra party bags just in case. However, if you’ve hired an entertainer or the party is at a particular venue you may have to pay for a certain number of children/places.
For a Frozen-themed party we booked ‘Elsa’ from My Little Princess Parties (they’re great by the way). We provided the cake, party food and party bags, but all the entertainment was laid on by Elsa at a cost of £199 for two hours. This covered up to 25 children. More than 25 kids and there was a charge of £5 per extra child. Over 30 and an extra entertainer would have been required. Thankfully we had exactly 30. Phew!
2) Too few guests/lots of cancellations
What if you play it safe with numbers and then get loads of last minute cancellations? For one party, I got four cancellations on the day and one no-show. I was hugely disappointed on my daughter’s behalf and was pretty stressed as I didn’t want the party to be a complete flop. I didn’t tell her about the cancellations. It was the right thing to do. She had a brilliant time anyway (there were still plenty of partygoers despite my worries), and it was only afterwards that my daughter started dissecting the guest list and realised that not everyone had made it. She was fine.
From a cost point of view, if you’re doing an activity-based/venue party, you’ll probably get charged for the number you specified. Just suck it up. You were expecting to pay that anyway.
3) Party duration
One of my biggest mistakes was having a fourth birthday party at home, which was three hours long. It was just way too much for 38 (yes, 38) young children. For a select number of friends, who are a bit older; fine, but for younger ones, it’s mayhem. Two hours is plenty.
4) How much to spend on party bags
Do you go with a massive bag of tat and tonnes of sugary treats (which incidentally the kids love and the parents hate) or go for fewer, more quality items? Oh the dilemma. A mixture I reckon. Kids are hugely disappointed if the bag’s really sparse, even if there is something in there that’s really nice. Parents are hugely disappointed if there’s a tonne of plastic mini toys in there that will be broken within minutes and then litter their house. If mine are anything to go by, they get extremely attached to tat and it’s almost impossible to throw these items away.
5) Will I look like a complete weirdo if I send out save the date emails before the actual invitations?
I didn’t send these out for my own wedding yet for two consecutive years I have sent ‘save the dates’ for my eldest’s parties. In my defence, you have to book December parties well in advance and people do get very busy at that time of year.