Adding up the cost of a party at home

Sian Crips, Georgia Perry and Abi Robinson, from Oaklands School, Waterlooville, celebrating their A-level results. Picture: Habibur Rahman PPP-170817-140116006

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Last week my daughter Caitlin celebrated her fifth birthday – a big day for her but an even bigger day for me as I got through her birthday party without having to call a therapist.

Birthday parties always sound like a good idea and of course I wanted to make the day special for my first-born child. But then the big day arrives and I don’t mind admitting I wondered why I didn’t just treat her to a day at Paultons Park instead.

It would have been so much easier with no-one to please or entertain but ourselves.

But a party was organised and arranged so there was no backing out. The invites were sent and I was in way too deep.

Although I still had nightmares about a bunch of children at the party full up on sugary treats, let loose to destroy my much-loved home.

When I say ‘party’ I don’t mean we hired out some ballroom with 
children’s entertainers in every corner, a top DJ on the decks and a hired-in caterer to take care of the food.

Of course I thought about all these things, but then I remembered the time I spent good money on a toy for Caitlin and she had much more fun playing with the box that the toy came in.

You just don’t need to spend lots of money to entertain children and most of the time the least amount of money spent equals the most fun.

The reality was a few friends and family invited to our house to sit 
in the garden, eat some cocktail sausages and egg mayo sandwiches, help themselves to a bowl full of crisps and take part in a game of musical statues.

I like to be traditional, but it still took a lot of organisation and I 
actually realised that the cost of party food, balloons, banners, prizes for games, party bags etc all adds up.

Children’s parties, even ones at home in the back garden, don’t come cheap.

As the clock struck midday, the first guests arrived and the madness began.

With children running around my house like they were wind-up toys that never stopped. There was one thing for it – get the food out.

It’s such an easy way to calm down a bunch of hectic children for five minutes, but once those sausage rolls and Jaffa Cakes were downed, the chaos continued.

But apart from having to be a counsellor to some of the children who were left disappointed when they didn’t end up with a prize after a game of pass the parcel, the day was a success.

Caitlin asked if we could go to Disney World for her sixth birthday. Where can I buy a Mickey Mouse costume from?

Disney can come to us.