So to date I have a four year old and a two tear old and to date I have thrown two parties: one birthday party and one halloween party. Do you want to know how many children we invited to each? Two. That's it. Two. It was enough.
So here is the thing about children's parties, especially for children under 5 - who are we throwing them for? Ourselves? Or the kids?
I had great birthday parties as a kid - really great, ok we were slightly spoilt when it comes to parties but I LOVED it - great memories. My favourite being a Disco Party where we had the best DJs (a double act that could have given Ant and Dec a run for their money), my Mum made hot dogs for everyone and I invited my whole class so I had 40 plus presents to open.
My partner on the other hand, didn't have parties, he says "we were skint" which may have been true, but also he was born on the 28th of Dececember and I feel the fate of a Christmas baby is to be party-less.
But as much I loved having a party and it was what I really looked forward to each year, I refuse to overdo it too early, and put all that effort in to a party that a one year old child has no idea it is for him. And at the moment the "birthday party" has become another charde for a mum to show off, either how wealty she is, how creative she is or how down right fabulous she is. Party bags have become a ridiculous parade of wealth, as Mums compete in taking decorated cupcakes into schoool/nursery for class mates the day before, clad the whole family in a new designer outfit for the occasion and hire gourmet caterers and chocolate fountains for the food! Then after you've gone you recieve a thank you letter, that comes in the form of a wedding invitation, thanking you for coming - wasn't that the point of the overfilled and overindulged party bag?
So this is what we did... For the first few years we celebrated with family and being Summer babies usually attempted to do it on the beach, because that is where the kids are happiest. Then this year, as he had started pre-school my eldest said for his birthday he wanted to play with his two best friends from Nursery. So, as they were obsessed with pirates, I devised a picture pirate treasure hunt through the woods, which ended with finding a treasure map and digging up a eal treasure chest in the sand pit at the play area. We had a pirate picninc, bought them an ice cream and a ride on merry go round then took them home. The cost was minimal, the effort a bit more, but I'm sure he's more likey to remember it than hiring a hall and invite 50 kids he barely knows.
Then there was the halloween party, which arose as he had been asking for weeks to have school friends over to play and I though I'd make it into an event on halloween and then wouldn't feel guilty about not taking him out "trick or treating". I was going to put on party food, do a spooky treasure hunt around the house and then some crafts. "They won't want to do crafts" my partner said. "Just let them play".
"They might" I replied and devised a box of simple crafts "just in case", like pom pom spiders, straw skeletons and chalk ghosts. Needless to say the majority of their time they ran around chasing each other with masks on (my partner included) and I sat on my own doing crafts. However, the little monkeys were more than happy to take a pom pom spider home with them and pass it off as their own. Once again, simple cheap, but they were all happy. i would have posted some pics to accompany this, but I was too busy battling with wool and googly eyes to take any!