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Please advise this birthday party novice!


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#1 lonestranger

Posted 09 July 2018 - 05:50 PM

DS will turn 4 mid-August, and desperately wants a party. We haven't had one before, only a family dinner and cake with one or other sets of grandparents.

We really don't want to spend much money, and would want it to be as low-key as possible.

He started 3 year old kindergarten this year, so has 'friends' in his class. I'm assuming if we invited the whole class we would get less than half (only a quarter seem to turn up to organised social stuff).

Ideally we would have loved to have had it at a local playground, perhaps  one with a BBQ so we could do a sausage sizzle for guests.

Now the questions:

However...we are talking mid-August Melbourne. Are we insane? I can't think of what the wet weather option would be...

How far in advance would I have to 'send' invitations? (I was thinking of utilising the Kindy contact list and emailing)

Would I need to organise any activities? Or would the kids just go nuts on the playground equipment? We haven't been to many parties yet - one was a traffic school that was wonderful (but we really don't want to spend that money), another in a park with a piñata and entertainer (again, didn't want to spend the cash...). I did think about a 'dinosaur' dig in the large sandpit with some spades and some plastic toy dinosaurs, or perhaps I could do some face painting....any ideas?

#2 Jingleflea

Posted 09 July 2018 - 06:00 PM

At 4 I'd just let them go nuts on the playground.
Get to the park early to grab a table to set out food and the cake and off they go.

Party bags.

Sorted.

I send out invites about 2 weeks in advance, maybe 3 if there's a term break.

#3 MandaMama

Posted 09 July 2018 - 06:33 PM

Two of my three kids both had their 4th birthday parties at a play centre - easiest parties we ever hosted!

And I've never just invited the whole class, just their friends/kids they hang out with the most - i would get their teacher's advice about this. That way you keep costs down and it's not so crazy overwhelming with so many kids, the kids are safely contained, and you end with with fewer crappy gifts littering your house! We would have had 10 invitees at the most.

I provided the birthday cakes. The play centres provided the invitations (or you can do your own) which I sent out 2-3 weeks in advance.

I've also done the "party in the park" a few times. They are always a lot more work than they seem however, having to transport absolutely everything from home, plus you have to watch them constantly like a hawk.

#4 Flaxen

Posted 09 July 2018 - 07:38 PM

We did the play centre party too. I found more turned up for that than outdoor parks which i have also done.
There's good coffee at the one we went to which Im sure played a part!
It was surprisingly affordable and fully catered, I didnt lift a finger, which at 39 weeks pg was essential. They even supplied a cake if you needed one.

#5 lonestranger

Posted 09 July 2018 - 07:43 PM

I wish we could have it at home, but we live in an incredibly small house...you basically can’t fit 4 people in our ‘lounge room’!
I really don’t want to go down the play centre path, I know we must sound incredibly cheap but we are just finding our feet after a very difficult financial time. I’ll call around some halls near the local playgrounds for a wet weather option...

#6 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 09 July 2018 - 07:53 PM

At that age,  parents usually stay with their kids. It's good manners to give them some food or a coffee too. If you do it at a park, parents will have no choice but to stay to supervise the kids. So I would cater for them too. At the parks near me, people get there early to reserve a table or they bring their own table etc. Also you may have to take your rubbish with you - the one near us doesn't have enough bins. TBH I agree with the pp. It's a lot of hassle.

I have never invited a whole class though I know plenty of people do.

#7 Holly298

Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:06 PM

Party in the park is easy - if it is raining then you’ll just have to postpone - most parents would understand and you could make the call Saturday afternoon to cancel) I would go morning or afternoon so you don’t need to provide lunch just morning or afternoon tea (fruit , jelly cups, choc crackles , popcorn and maybe a few sandwiches and wraps) cheese/antipasto platter for parents and just mini water bottles,  i always invite the whole class as at that age they don’t really have set friendships yet and as you mentioned not everyone would turn up -  I think the play equipment at the park is definitely enough but I would bring some bubble wands or bubble machine and some balloons or cheap balls to kick/bounce/throw

#8 lonestranger

Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:13 PM

View PostHolly298, on 09 July 2018 - 08:06 PM, said:

Party in the park is easy - if it is raining then you’ll just have to postpone - most parents would understand and you could make the call Saturday afternoon to cancel) I would go morning or afternoon so you don’t need to provide lunch just morning or afternoon tea (fruit , jelly cups, choc crackles , popcorn and maybe a few sandwiches and wraps) cheese/antipasto platter for parents and just mini water bottles,  i always invite the whole class as at that age they don’t really have set friendships yet and as you mentioned not everyone would turn up -  I think the play equipment at the park is definitely enough but I would bring some bubble wands or bubble machine and some balloons or cheap balls to kick/bounce/throw

This is what I was envisaging, though I do take the advice from others that I'm sure it's lots of hassle!

I'm assuming a Saturday morning is more the norm, rather than a Sunday?

#9 LucyGoose

Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:21 PM

Definitely playground is enough.  You could do a piñata or bubbles,  but kids are happy to play.  
We went to one recently,  they had chips and popcorn in single serve bags,  jelly cups, poppers/water and then cupcakes.  No games and kids had a ball.
If you want to go to more effort,  I’ve also seen people bring cheerios, sausage rolls etc,  heated up and kept in thermal container or covered in foil.


#10 ainira

Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:22 PM

View Postlonestranger, on 09 July 2018 - 08:13 PM, said:



This is what I was envisaging, though I do take the advice from others that I'm sure it's lots of hassle!

I'm assuming a Saturday morning is more the norm, rather than a Sunday?

Saturday morning can be problematic if the kids have older siblings due to sport. I've been to a range of party days times -- I would go with whatever suits you best :)

#11 Holly298

Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:27 PM

View Postlonestranger, on 09 July 2018 - 08:13 PM, said:



This is what I was envisaging, though I do take the advice from others that I'm sure it's lots of hassle!

I'm assuming a Saturday morning is more the norm, rather than a Sunday?
It’s really no hassle (wait until they get a bit older and you do need entertainment and themes !) I wouldn’t do Saturdays as work/sport other activities might take precedence so I always do Sunday’s (if it’s a big church community mornings may not work ) but 2-4pm Sunday would work, the kids have lunch at home then come to the park and then spend the afternoon running around and are home exhausted and ready for dinner and bed!! Also in winter afternoon would probably be warmer!

#12 MarciaB

Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:32 PM

I think a BBQ is too much effort in a park. Stick to a morning/afternoon tea type party and forget “lunch”. Playground should be enough for entertainment, you could do some simple games if you wanted, pass the parcel, duck duck goose, statues - but not necessary.



#13 Kiwi Bicycle

Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:34 PM

I wouldn't have it outdoors. DS is a winter Melbourne baby and it's too cold and too wet.
A friend who was watching her pennies did a play place party on a budget, here's how
Had in on a weekday afternoon, when it's quiet.
Invited a select few
Went to a place where the entry fee was for the kids only.
Booked a normal table and provided drinks and water only.
Somehow talked the centre into letting her bring in a cake as food.

Actually worked fine as the 4 year olds just wanted to play, sing happy birthday and eat a slice of cake. The play place wasn't at all busy at that time so were flexible about bringing in a cake. If you are doing a sessional kinder it most likely means there's a stay at home parent or grandparent or one parent wotks part time, so do a non kindy day and it should work. A 4 year old isn't going to understand post poning a party if it's bad weather.

#14 MillyM

Posted 10 July 2018 - 07:03 AM

We have done the Melbourne park party in winter at that age. We were blessed with good weather but did afternoon so it was a bit warmer. We didn’t provide games, the kids just romped around the play equipment. I think the park is good if you are inviting a few people who don’t know each other as they can feel more comfortable there than at your home. Th expense was in providing the food with some options for adults, drinks, party bags and we made the cake. It was great. Other options to look at are local playgroups which sometimes hire out for a fee and you get all the playgroup equipment too.

#15 PhillipaCrawford

Posted 10 July 2018 - 07:56 AM

As long as there is an undercover shelter for the adults to stand in the kids can be out in any weather.

We had a traffic school party in the pouring rain once and the kids absolutely loved the permission to race around getting soaked.
Home for a warm bath afterwards.

Just encourage everyone to bring appropriate clothing.
Thankfully these days people are more aware of kids needs to be outside in all weathers and I would actually be more concerned if it were a summer party since a day of 40 degrees is far harder to deal with.

I would get the kids to bring their own water bottles and minimise balloons due to plastic waste concerns.

#16 AnythingGoes

Posted 10 July 2018 - 08:13 AM

Melbourne winter birthdays are hard. Look at local community houses / neighbourhood houses.  These will often have halls you can hire for a reasonable fee - and often have outside play equipment, toys, kitchen area to heat food etc.

#17 MerryMadrigalMadge

Posted 10 July 2018 - 08:32 AM

When DD was at kinder, our Melbourne kinder could be hired for weekend birthday parties - it was $100 for 3 hours. Just BYO food - the kitchen was available for coffees, heating sausage rolls etc.

Also DD is at Cubs - the scout hall can be hired too, quite cheaply, and it's in a park with a playground so there lots of options.

We did DD's whole class prep party at a gymnastic club in Mount Waverly - hugely popular with both DD and all the kids that came. A flat fee, not a per head charge. They barely ate, they were so desperate to back into it - really could have got away with cake/water/fairy bread/sausage rolls.


#18 Cheesy Sanga

Posted 10 July 2018 - 09:04 AM

Side note: think about future parties. Will you have a party every year or every 2nd year? I really wish we'd said every 2nd year, as with 2 kids a party every year gets exy. Also don't say something silly  like you're turning 5 you can have 5 guests etc. That adds up quickly as well. We have the same problem, winter birthdays and a small house.

Note for the kindy party, make sure you talk to the teacher's about who's who. My kid didn't know which Charlotte she wanted to invite, so we had both. We also had Charlie as well, lol.

#19 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 10 July 2018 - 09:07 AM

Keep the food really simple. DD’s recent 4th birthday I served fruit and fairy bread, then cake at the end. Coffee and croissants for the grown ups.

#20 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 10 July 2018 - 09:42 AM

View PostAnythingGoes, on 10 July 2018 - 08:13 AM, said:

Melbourne winter birthdays are hard. Look at local community houses / neighbourhood houses.  These will often have halls you can hire for a reasonable fee - and often have outside play equipment, toys, kitchen area to heat food etc.
This is a brilliant idea. I'd forgotten about this.  At our local you get the outdoor play area and indoor creche, so plenty of toys etc.

Edited by FuzzyChocolateToes, 10 July 2018 - 09:43 AM.


#21 Babetty

Posted 10 July 2018 - 10:06 AM

My party tip (well, 2) is always put a finishing time on invitations, even when parents are staying so there isn't that awkward is the party over or not question, and do party bags. I keep the contents really simple, but handing them out serves 2 purposes - signalling that yes, the party is over and averting some "I don't want to go home" tantrums.

I tend to do a few lollies, mini chocolate bar and lollipop in them plus one non food thing, eg sheet of stickers or mini bubble blowers etc.

#22 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 10 July 2018 - 10:42 AM

My snot just turned 4. He has kinder friends, but I didn't want to invite them all to a big party.  We just had a family party, like previous years, ordered pizzas and had cake. Luckily DS has several cousins his age.

My initial plan though, to involve kinder friends, was just to invite the kinder group to a local park next to the kinder for a play on DS’s birthday. Because it was school holidays. No party, no presents, just a play. Cause that would have made him so happy. (In the end it didn’t happen because we got busy, and a different kinder event happened anyway, but that was the plan) this is what I plan to do for future birthdays. Official family birthday party, and a separate play date with friends. This avoids getting so many presents too.

So why don’t you do something like that? Just say in a group email or whatever your kinder does, one week ahead, “on Wednesday you’re all invited after kinder to the park down the street for a special play for DD’s birthday. No gifts required, DD would just love to have a special play with her friends” and maybe you can give them all a small lolly bag at the end. Whole thing will cost you maybe $20 in lollies and they will all have an amazing time and you can check the weather forecast before picking the day.


#23 AllyK81

Posted 10 July 2018 - 11:25 AM

You definitely don't need to invite the whole class. Find out from kinder who your child plays with and invite those children. At 3 mine both definitely had a core group of kids they played with.

Mine have been to some fancy parties with entertainers, animals, face painters - one even had vintage fire engine rides. And to be honest they kids often ignore this stuff. They are very happy just playing.

Melbourne weather can be rotten any time of year so I would just pick a playground with some shelter and cross your fingers.

Keep the food simple. The kids are usually not that interested in eating anyway. We usually do a fruit plate and some cheese/antipasti. I am not a fan of junk food  - a cake is our only concession to the usual party fare.

Sunday late morning is my preferred time for parties. Week day afternoons are a bit tricky for many families.

I agree PP about putting on a finish time. I like to know when we can leave without being rude! By 2 hours I have usually had enough of small talk with the other parents!

#24 trillian42

Posted 11 July 2018 - 07:20 AM

Where are you in Melbourne? People might be able to suggest some parks with good shelter.

It’s always a lottery with Melbourne weather in winter, but we had one meetup with friends where it was pouring down, adults sat in the shelter and the kids had a ball in the rain, splashing around in either boots or thongs and raincoats. Just make it clear on the invite that it will go ahead regardless of weather, and maybe bring some thermoses of hot drinks for adults. Probably no games needed but you could bring some simple craft (stickers and pencils for drawing) for kids who don’t want to get as wet.

#25 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 11 July 2018 - 08:18 AM

I would go either a casual play at park one day after kinder (we have been invited to these before) or invite close friends (not whole class).

My kids have enjoyed parties where there were only 3 guests. The kids had such fun playing.

I do get Melbourne winter and house you can not swing a cat in. My kids are turning 9/11/13yrs and never had a party at home. Maybe next year when our house is finished.

We also do parties every second year starting in Prep.




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