Who needs Pinterest? This is a brilliant Top 10 list of easy ways to make your party look great with very little time, a little bit of effort (and not too much money).

Get yourself some colourful IKEA bowls (the plastic ones that someone you know will probably have) and fill them with the appropriate coloured Fruit and Veg – Green for Cucumber/Grapes, Blue for Blueberries, Red for Strawberries or Tomatoes – you get the idea……Kids LOVE the colourful rainbow effect on a table and it will make them eat something reasonably healthy in amongst the party food.  Trust me!

It really is ALL in the presentation – you can serve the cheapest pizza and make it look really amazing by chucking some ham on a Margarita (in the “it looks home-made” way) and serving it slices up on a wooden chopping board – simple yet effective!  Same goes with Pineapple and Cheese on sticks – the old ones are the best and I’ve yet to meet a child that doesn’t love the novelty of this.  Use all your old boards and serving plates from charity shops if you like – it definitely beats a boring old plate in a village hall – and it’s all about the WOW remember!  You have to wash up either so you may as well put it on something nice!

Easy cakes are often the most enjoyed……have a go at one of these – if you make it – they will remember this forever – even if it’s simple!  

Victoria Sponge with Jam in the middle – add buttercream if you like – then simply cover with buttercream and smarties!  Candles on the top and Job done!

Chocolate sponge with buttercream – cover it completely with chocolate buttercream or ganache then simply line the outside with chocolate fingers and cover the top with maltesers!  Simple yet Yummy!

Chocolate sponge again – this time cover with chocolate buttercream or ganache then chuck loads of those bags of Crunchie Rocks, Twirl Bites, Flakes, Wispa bites (you get the idea).  Make it look like a building site then plonk a couple of toy diggers etc on the top!  

FOR NON CAKE EATERS (I know the pain – I have one) – Meringue crown.  Get yourself 3 layers of meringue and sandwich them together with cream and your choice of either Raspberries or Strawberries – or both, Nutella dribbled over, Mango and Passion fruit – basically anything!  Stack it all up and off you go!  Perfect for Coeliacs too depending on what goes on top!

If all else fails buy yourself a plain cake that has fondant icing over it already and ask the kids to decorate it at the party using some icing pends and decorations and sweets – this will go down very well!!  your child will always remember doing this with their friends.

 

This soooo does not have to be difficult.  I will supply a Pass the Parcel and Party Game prizes – and a Bluetooth speaker so basically you’re good to go with Musical Bumps, Statues and of course the Pass the Parcel.  I can also make suggestions for Pin the Tail on the…… (or Horn on the Unicorn etc) and even print this up for you BUT…..the best party game ever does involve chocolate – of course!  

Get yourself a bunch of kids – preferably age 6/7 or older – sit them in a large-ish circle.  In the centre of the circle you need a plate with a Knife and Fork on it together with a VERY LARGE bar of chocolate (Dairy Milk or similar is good for this game).  By the plate you will need a LARGE pair of gloves, a Hat, Goggles or Sunglasses, A Scarf – maybe a feather boa and whatever dressing up bits you fancy.  You will also need two dice.  Send the dice around the circle.  If someone gets a Double Six they are then allowed up to the centre to manically get dressed into all the gear and start eating the chocolate – WITH the knife and fork until the next person rolls a double six!  When this happens the centre person must quickly take all the stuff off whilst the new person is putting it all on so they can attack the chocolate!  This is called the Chocolate Game and I have never known it to be anything less than a hit.  The kids never get to eat too much chocolate because it takes so long to get dressed up etc etc.  The Dice goes around until all the chocolate has gone and/or the kids look bored or have started to feel sick!  WINNER!

Jelly and Ice Cream is never going to lose but if preparing a Jelly makes you go a bit wobbly then simply buy yourself a couple of flavours of ice-cream tubs, get some cones and ta-dah!!  An easy treat that requires no washing up.  Get some sprinkles and put them in a bowl then they can all dip them head down to finish their ice-cream off.  

Remember – Kids DO NOT NEED everything – pick simple things that you know they love and stick to it (Pizza, Ice-cream, A SIMPLE buffet etc – you do not need to give them multiple choices and everything.  You absolutely cannot please all the children all of the time and if one or two don’t like something there’s a simple phrase – “I’m so sorry – I’m sure your mummy will have something when you get home but this is all I have here!”.  Offer fruit or your pudding option – you do not owe it to anyone to be Gordon Ramsey and offer the world!  They will only be at this party for a couple of hours and will not starve if they have decided they don’t like something for the day.  Promise!

Ok so it happens to us all – me on a regular basis but there are some top ways of wangling your way around this one.  Stockpile cards whenever you’re in town especially in The Works or most card shops offering 7 cars for £1 etc.  Options for forgetting a pressie include:  A Handwritten note inside the card with an IOU – “This card entitles the bearer to a trip to the Cinema/Pizza Express/Ice Cream Parlour (you get the idea) with …………..  .  We cannot wait to take you and help you celebrate your birthday again.  You could of course also invite the child around for a playdate/sleepover etc with this method instead if you prefer.  

Another option – find a clean jar, fill it with the dry ingredients for a cake (except the butter and eggs) and label it – “Extra Birthday cake in the making”  Don’t forget to print out the instructions and stick it to the jar.

Alternatively stick a Fiver in a card and write a note saying you’d love to take them out to help them spend it or “we hope you enjoy picking out something nice to play with”

Remember – more than anything – this child wants your child to be there.  They will not remember who has bought what so please don’t stop your child going because you’ve not got a present.  It really does not matter (and if matters to any parent – point them to this website).  

 

Time really does fly when they’re having fun so keeping them busy is definitely the way forward and you do not need to employ an entertainer to do this.  Pace Yourself!  

So – on arrival have a table all ready and set up with colouring, glitter (preferably the biodegradable kind), sticky things etc and let them at it.  After the initial screams of excitement at just being in the room they will usually get on with this for a bit.  You can print up colouring sheets online or buy cheap decorations they can stick stuff to in places like the Range etc.  Whilst they are doing this you can give the mum’s who have decided to stay a cuppa (or what I like to do is employ a mum to do this for you).  Then…..

Party Game No 1.  Pass the Parcel – Get it done!

Follow this up with Musical Bumps/Statues/Chairs – whatever you want – or all of them if you like!

EAT!!  Get the food in them!  This can take a while in itself.

Party Game No. 2 ish – This time maybe the Chocolate game (think of it as extra pud) or Pin the Tail etc.  

DANCE – Get your Bluetooth Speaker going and get them dancing – say there’s a prize for the best dancer – this usually keeps them at it a while.  Give the winner a tube of smarties!  You can usually add music and dancing in all the in-between bits.  

CAKE – just getting everyone together, quiet, candles on cake and singing etc can take a while.  My top tip for cake is let them eat it there unless you’re doing cupcakes then they can take them home.  No-one really ever eats or enjoys the cake once it’s travelled in a paper napkin squashed inside a party bag.  Honest!  This will also take some time whilst they all eat cake!  

Their favourite bit……and now it’s easy as I do all of these for you!  If you do choose to do them yourself though – think about something different.  No plastic tat required.  You can buy cheap box sets of books from Usborne, The Book People, The Works etc and wrap them all up (or not – I don’t usually) and then just hand them out with a slice of cake or a cupcake as they leave.  Simple!  They generally love the books, it works out at about £1 a head usually and they will treasure the book rather then break a plastic toy before they even get home!  Alternatively you could do little bags with decorating kids in – again from places like The Works or the Range you can buy all-sorts of decorations and just pop them in a bag with some colouring pencils – cheap as chips in a pound store – and they’re done.  

In my Party bags you will find a whole range of different toys and gifts ranging from beautiful seed growing kits, puzzles, sewing kits, books, key-rings, necklaces etc, pencils and colouring items.  I don’t use any single use plastic and it’s all gorgeous stuff!  

So of course this all depends on the date and venue etc as is so often the case.  Personally I think if you’re having it at home or in a hall or somewhere similar you’re best off to get it over with around a mealtime because you’re likely going to feed them anyway and parties between 10 -12 or 1 – 3 or 2 – 4 often make the whole meal thing awkward.  An 11am start until 1pm/1.30pm finish is a pretty good option as the adults can still eat when they get home.  Alternatively a 3 – 5.30pm party is a good bet for the same reasons.  Life isn’t always as easy as this but I do find these two of the better options.  Mornings are often better as it leaves less time for silliness and getting excited beforehand – we’ve all been on the other end of “is it time yet?” 

So we none of us are perfect.  Most of us are stupid busy – but don’t we all love it when we get a Thankyou!  So – with this in mind…..prepare!!  Write a lovely email or some cards before the actual party – even if it’s along the lines of – (and feel free to copy / copy and paste here)

 “Dear…………….    

Thankyou so much for your thoughtful present – …………………. was thrilled to bits with it and it really was very kind of you”.  Thanks for coming to their party – we hope ……………………….. had as much fun as we did!  

Love……………………………………………

Then send them out straight after the party.  All done – all prepared – not difficult.  And I bet you start getting a few back in the future.  It is important your child show gratitude even if they received no present – thank the guest for their presence and get your child involved in all of this.  It’s nice, it’s kind and the world needs it!  You may think it old-fashioned but perhaps it’s something we should bring back?