Our big girl H turned 5 last week and despite promising I would do a party every second year, I have yet to follow through on that promise. She’s had one every year and will probably continue to do so forever because I’m a soft touch mum.
I do a party every year mainly because we live in the country and there are no museums, play centres or anything near us. Parties seem to replace those things, and it feels mean-spirited to deprive the local kids of something slightly more exciting than a trip to the park.
I get really anxious about parties. I can Google kids party ideas for eternity but the execution is what really makes or breaks it. I don’t know why I get so worked up over it though, I’ve never been to a terrible kids party. They’ve all been in the range of lovely to extra lovely. As long as the kids have a good time (and they usaully do!) it’s a hit. Still there’s that nagging feeling. Will H like it? Will it be a ‘cool’ party? Do I have enough food? One of the myriad of ways in which we can fail as a parent. The self inflicted pressure is on.
5 Slightly Different Kids Party Ideas
This year we decided to do a few things differently, and this is how it went.
Instead of games, we borrowed an inflatable kids’ water slide from a friend (similar to this one on Amazon) and bought a slip-and-slide to go with it. We popped out some other lawn games we already had – Giant Connect 4 and Giant Jenga – that was it. I didn’t organise any other games and the kids didn’t care. H doesn’t like games, oddly. She hates pin-the-tail because she doesn’t like the blindfold. Fair enough. She doesn’t like sack races because it’s too hard to move her legs. Pass the parcel is a logistical nightmare for her organised little brain. Pinatas ‘aren’t very kind’, and I feel like she’s not wrong. Last year, I organised games for her party, and all the kids said no because they were busy playing teachers on the porch. So no games. It was great.
I hope no one thought I was mean or horrible for doing this, but we decided to ask for no gifts and take H to the zoo instead. I gave her the choice and said she could let guests bring presents or we could have a day out at the zoo, and she chose the zoo. Here’s how I worded it on the invitation.
A few friends still bought gifts, a few brought flowers and cards, and some of the cards had money to spend at the zoo. Going no gifts was a positive experience, and we might continue. The reason behind no gifts is that I watched her unwrap 15 presents last year at her party and she was like a zombie. Robotically unwrapping, putting it the pile, grabbing another. We all forgot which gift came from who and it felt really yuck. This felt good. I cannot remember a single present I got given when I was kid by a friend at a party so it made me think what’s the point in all this? H wasn’t upset at all about no presents, she’s just excited to go to the zoo. For the record, I’m perfectly happy buying presents for other kids, that’s not an issue at all. This is an us thing.
It was hosted after school on a Friday
I recently attended our first after-school party on a Friday, and I was like, ‘Dang, this is genius.’
After-school parties only take up an afternoon, and they don’t fall across a meal time, so you can go basic on catering. They’re also great for December kids who drew the short end of the stick for birthday months. It’s often impossible to find a free Saturday in December. A free Friday arvo? Most of them are free. We also loved that the party didn’t take up half our weekend. If you’re fence-sitting over an after-school party, do it. It was great.
I can’t speak for the other guests, but our girls were utterly destroyed after playing all evening, and they were both fast asleep by 7 pm, which rarely happens. I’d be pretty stoked if our party bestowed premium bedtimes upon H’s friends.
We had ice cream cake
I know this isn’t wildly earth-shattering, but H did not fall far from her mother’s tree and does not like cake. So I made an ice-cream cake, and it was a hit. I didn’t get a great picture of it because it was 30 degrees outside and I had to serve it before it melted but here’s a cropped photo.
She wanted a Lion King cake, so I bought some vintage figurines on eBay. I made the cake by squishing vanilla ice-cream in two cling-film lined cake tins, re-freezing them, layering them on top of each other with sprinkles in between and popped it back in the freezer. I used canned whipped cream and green food colouring to ‘ice’ the cake right before I served it, added some green sprinkles to make it look like grass, popped the decos on and bam. Lion King cake. The ice-cream re-froze brilliantly. Will 10/10 do this again.
I served G&Ts for the adults.
Not surprisingly, after a long week, standing in the hot sun watching your kid play on a water slide, a G&T was well received by most. We also had flavoured mineral water available for adults.
I highly recommend a backyard water slide party if you have the weather and space for it.
Oh I also did party bags which is probably hypocritical when I asked for no gifts, but H really loves planning them, putting them together and giving them out so we went with it. I kept them as practical and minimal as possible. I stole the idea from my mate. She got these little plaster casts from Kmart, split up the paint pots and bought little paintbrushes. So it’s like a cute little craft activity. I also liked having these as a backup in case the weather got really awful, and we had to come inside and have something to do. I also popped in a lollypop and a Milky Way.
And those are our fairly low-key, fairly low budget, low pressure kids party ideas.
What’s the best kids party you’ve ever been to or hosted? My eldest is 5 and my youngest is 1. I need LOTS of kids party ideas please!
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