How to have a stress-free birthday party

Budget birthday party

What to have at a kids’ party can be a nightmare. The closer you get the more there is to think of! Here are the definitive essentials for a less fraught celebration.

The cake

There won’t be a huge difference in cost whether you buy one from the supermarket or a card shop, or make your own the day before.

A cunning shortcut is to buy a cake topper online personalised with their name and age, in a theme they like. Place it on a foil-covered tray to show it off.

Don’t forget the candles and matches, a knife to cut it, and serviettes to wrap slices in.

The cake presentation and singing tends to be near the end of a party, so it’s often a rush to cut and wrap the slices and get them into the party bags. Plan ahead by rowing in a friend to help, and open the serviettes out in advance.

The party food

Simplicity is the key here, with not too much choice. Children don’t eat much at parties because they’re dying to carry on partying, so don’t go mad.

Refill serving plates as the food gets eaten, to save opening everything you’ve bought. Keep the receipt and return what wasn’t opened the following day.

However much the other mums want their children to eat carrot sticks, kids are only there for the crisps. So opt for fruit they’ll actually eat, like cherry tomatoes, grapes and a few strawberries to please the mums.

Don’t bother with sandwiches. They’re a massive hassle, they take forever to make, and the kids don’t want them. Cocktail sausages and breadsticks are a much better hit.

birthday partyParty bags

If your venue isn’t doing these for you (and they can work out cheaper), get these filled a few days beforehand. This allows time to pick up extra bits. Do make a couple of spares for siblings too.

Supermarkets have a reasonable selection of items – and don’t break the bank here. Balloons and bulk-buy sweets fill them out cheaply.

If you want to avoid the hassle completely, get online and order pre-done bags. Just order in good time to allow for delivery. And get spares for the stragglers who only confirm they’re coming two days before the day!

Clearing up

Most venues provide a dustpan and broom. Do beware the cut-off time when you’ve booked the venue to though, and get cracking as soon as they’ve finished eating.

Bring a whole roll of bin bags for the reams of rubbish, and to carry the presents home in – they can be pretty bulky! Make sure cards don’t get unstuck from presents, so you know who bought what for your thank you cards later (buy a pack from the supermarket).

Clear the table while the party’s still going, binning what you can’t salvage. If your venue allows and you have enough helpers, wash up there and then. Do bring tea towels if you are. If not, chuck it all in another bin bag to do at home with a glass of wine on the go!