I think the sign of a good party (ANY type of party, kids party, bbq, dinner party, boozing session) is when people hang around even when it's supposed to be finished.... you are enjoying yourself so much that you don't want to leave in a hurry, and that's just what happened which I take as an excellent thing.
I'm going to re-cap in bullet points, because that's how I roll and it's the easiest way to share little tidbits that I picked up from the planning and execution.
How To Have a Kids Birthday Party And Not Go Mental:
- KEEP IT SIMPLE.
- Team up: Join forces with a friend who has a kid with a birthday around the same time - especially useful if both kids are in the same class at school - this way, we could invite the whole class so no one felt left out, and made for great support and inspiration during the planning stages.
- Don't go nuts on the food. The kids are always so excited and just want to play (plus I hate wasting food) so having copious amounts of food left out for the flies is not that cool. We did some big fruit platters (mango, strawberries, watermelon - seasonal yumminess) and carrot/celery sticks with cherry tomatoes. Plain air popped popcorn with sea salt and plain potato chips. Obviously the cakes were the sweet treats, and we had a big esky of these bad boys for everyone to help themselves - it was HOT and an icy treat sure was a bit of relief. $8 a box from Aldi - vegan and no nasties = winning. We had very little leftovers and everyone seemed happy with the spread - we encouraged everyone to bring their own water bottles that they could refill from a big water cooler.
- Decorations. Make pretty stuff out of old stuff. The best idea came from my party-partner in crime who decided to make bunting out of all the kid's old art work that piles up..... you can't quite throw it away but don't really want it filling up your house. Re-purposing at it's best - and it looked awesome! Flowers are free.... we went down our street early in the morning and pilfered natural offerings from the local trees and bushes - fancy that.... perfect table pretties. Old sheets were ripped up to dangle from trees as streamers and wrapped around poles.
- Activities. If it is Spring/Summer and you live in QLD - you need water. "Water Fun" was the best fun ever.... we had a little sprinkler and filled up buckets of water and encouraged everyone to bring a water gun (and then we found extras at the local op shop). The kids ran around going mental and having a blast. No prizes required. We also made a "Pin the Tail on Pikachu," borrowed some old sacks for sack races and did "Cherry Tomato & Spoon" race (Vegan friendly!) which all the kids thought was hilarious. We didn't make the kids play if they didn't want to - and most of the time they were happiest doing their own thing. A big tub of pavement chalk and the kids helped to decorate the venue with their own art!
- Goodie Bags. We weren't going to do the whole goodie-bag thing, but then we decided we could do it in a way which would be fun, eco friendly and not just plastic shit. Brown paper bags with a healthy raw snack bar, a packet of seeds to plant, some paper stickers and a special crystal to take home - the kids loved them and were really excited by GARDEN STUFF!! and MAGIC ROCKS!!
Another tip for the Mums - get someone ELSE to take photos. I was SO glad I had my lovely friend Hayley (from Hadas - she is bloody brilliant so if you need amazing, natural, glorious photos, she is your lady!) there to snap away as I managed to lose my phone for the entire party (found later at the bottom of the rubbish box - yes I put it there for safe-keeping). It was really nice to be PRESENT during the party and not stuck behind a phone or camera. Disconnect to reconnect ya know.
All in all it was a great success - everyone had fun, we didn't go crazy with stress, and we didn't just resort to buying cheap plastic crap. Yes it took a little time in planning and organizing, but nothing ridiculous. I actually really enjoyed it! Just goes to show with a little creativity and thinking outside the box you can have a kids party that doesn't send everyone into a sugar-coma or anxiety induced panic attack.... fancy that.