Kid’s parties used to be straightforward affairs with silly games, ice-cream and jelly and enough cake to make several children sick.
Now, parents can be overly competitive, children sometimes have unrealistic expectations and parents are often left unsure about who – if anyone – will show up because so few people bother to RSVP.
Parties for small children are often more about the parents, as we have few memories before the age of five. If your kid can’t even talk yet, they really don’t need a visit from a real live unicorn and a balloon modeller. Keep it simple with messy activities, singing and dancing and lots of finger food.
Consider hiring a local hall or room at a community centre if you’re worried someone may scribble on your Picasso. It’s cheap and there’s plenty of room to run round. Some can provide catering if there’s a café on site. Soft play centres offer a variety of party packages and these always work well for children up till the age of six or so.
Themed dress-up parties work well, whether it’s Disney princesses or pirates, especially if you theme games and activities to match. Hiring a bouncy castle is another sure-fire winner, especially if it comes with music and adults can have a shot too.
Keep in mind that many children may be prevented from attending if parents perceive that the event is expensive, so don’t ask for expensive gifts or plan something hugely extravagant. Your child just wants to have a good time with their friends, not make people feel awkward. Keep it simple and low key. There are plenty of entertaining and inexpensive ideas for activities and games on the internet.
If a DIY approach seems overly time consuming, or you’re not a fountain of cheap and cheerful games and creative ideas, then you can always outsource the project to one of the many local businesses that cater for various themed parties. Jump In Trampoline Park at Altens offer a brilliant time complete with food, while girls from 8-13 might fancy a pamper party at a local salon. Several offer this service.
Aberdeen Snowsports are a good option for active kids. Artificial slope skiing and snowboarding are popular and lessons can be arranged. Tubing is great fun and inexpensive at £6 per person for an hour. Similarly, Transitions Extreme’s climbing wall, bike high ropes, and skateboard park make for an action-packed birthday party with 90 minutes of tuition costing £90 for six children and party food being available at extra cost. Go Ape at Crathes Castle offers the chance to whizz through the trees on zip wires, while smaller siblings will enjoy the wooden adventure playground.
Sleepovers are great for children aged 8-12 or so, particularly if you order pizza and make a blanket fort. If the weather allows, try a garden campfire with sausages cooked on sticks, toasted marshmallows and spooky stories. Younger teenaged boys, in particular, may enjoy a supervised overnight camping trip, complete with popup tents and challenges such as making bridges, white water rafting or a survival skills session. It’s probably too much to expect them to forage for dinner, so a food run to the nearest take away will stave off the possibility of a Lord of the Flies scenario developing.
Teenagers may prefer activities for a smaller group, such as a trip to the cinema and dinner with their friends, without adults present except as taxi drivers.
Above all, remember that is about everybody having a good time and that needn’t cost a fortune.