How to hold a fun birthday party for a five year old
When it comes to organising kids’ birthday parties keep it simple, and short. And have confidence that you and your child can be the host either at home or the nearest park. For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see www.nicolabaird.com
Have you heard about the Cornish mum who sent a £16 invoice to the parents of a reception aged child (ie, five years old) who she thought was going to her child’s birthday party (on a ski slope) and then failed to turn up – without bothering to let the host family know? Here’s the link on BBC News.
Everyone has an opinion about what the mum’s done (rude) and what the recipient child’s family have said they plan to do to her (ruder).
Imagine how awkward it would be to be at their school. And that’s the point: children’s birthday parties are not to fall out over.
With two daughters now aged 16 and 13 I’ve helped organise a lot of birthday parties (although the girls have had to do plenty too). At first it stunned me at primary school how people simply don’t respond to RSVP. This would be fine if you were just giving a little tea party for a few friends with some cake. But it becomes a nightmare of organisation if you are having to pay for a venue or plan to offer party bags. So cut this stress by not organising something too grand or expensive…
One party I painted wooden name tags for kids to put on their door or bed and ended up with a few to hand out at school the next week for the unexpected no-shows. I think the kids who’d missed the party quite liked having a little memory – and if they didn’t does it matter?
I was stunned by how generous some families are – handing over £10 gifts, or more even, just to a little child. Even recently a mum asked if her daughter and friends could club together to give my soon to be 14yo a camera (I said no, that’s just way over budget, but what a lovely, generous, thoughtful offer).
Many people who have very little money are willing to pool it to make the best possible party they can for their birthday child. This is a generous thing to do, but it just adds to the birthday party stress. If you are willing to rethink birthdays then here’s the way to do it in a thrifty, creative and eco-friendly way.
1 Ideally hold the party in an outside space – make sure the kids are dressed so they stay warm and dry. You can then hold a picnic, do activities, try a treasure hunt or just let them run around making as much noise as they want.
2 Avoid the party bag full of breakable rubbish. You can always give a small going home gift – but just make it one, practical object (felt tip? drinking mug? homemade tote bag?) or something whimsical that you’ve made without too much sweat (eg, a fairy basket made from hazel nut shells glued together).
3 Or get the kids at the party to make their own going home gift. Bath bombs are fun and not as messy as you might imagine. Or they could hunt for an amazing pebble and then pop some eyes and a mouth on it (or just hand out a stick/log). Or decorate a horse shoe (that’s going to take some organisation finding!). A bit easier might be to plant up a bulb or robust flower, depending on the season.
4 If you decide to book a treat like rock climbing, theatre or some other expensive activity remind yourself that this is something you want the birthday child and the others to enjoy. It’ll be an experience for whoever turns up. If someone doesn’t turn up, just remember that life is complicated and invitations with the host child’s family contact numbers get mislaid. Move on with a smile, not a bill.
Good luck with your parties.