23 June 2017

Let's Party!

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One of the joys of having children is being able to create magic and fantasy for them, and seeing the sheer delight on their faces at the sight of something special.

When I was about five, my mum sent my two sisters and I into our room, promising a treat if we tidied up our toys. Dutifully we obeyed, and when she opened the door to praise our efforts, a shower of coloured sweeties rained down from the ceiling! For us it was the most magical thing, and I can still remember the feeling of total amazement. To this day my mum refuses to tell us how she did it, preserving the mystery -although now I have small children of my own I think I am entitled to know!

Birthday Parties are a great chance to bring some of that magic to a child, or to a group of kids, and although it can be hard work the results and memories for the child make it more than worthwhile. The range of choice for Birthday Parties these days is staggering, and like everything else, it is hard to please all the people all the time - even the little people! However, it is worth remembering that it is the kids you want to impress, not their parents!

To get organised, write yourself a Party Plan. Simplify the Plan by choosing the elements you want to concentrate on, broken down into VITAL and OPTIONAL, as below:

VITAL
Date
Location
Your budget in total
Number of children
Age range
Boys, girls or both
Catering - 'proper' food or just nibbles

OPTIONAL
Party theme
Fancy Dress
Entertainment
Music
Games and prizes
Decorations and tableware
Party bags

To get you started on choosing what to do, make lots of calls and get lots of quotes, catalogues and advice to help you with ideas and how to manage your budget.

Once you have decided on the options above, send the invitations out two or three weeks before the party date, with an RSVP, so you can work out numbers. Party venues may provide these when you book, or you can buy themed cards to match your party. Don't forget the Thank You cards for afterwards!

Parties at Home If you are brave enough to hold party at home, that frees up money to spend on other things. The point is to pick and choose which bits of the party to concentrate on, and not trying to do too much.

Personally, I think that making a room look really special creates the party atmosphere more than anything. For example, decorating your front door with balloons, and streamers hanging from the ceiling look fantastic, and provide lots of fun. Food does not have to be fancy, (and does not have to be a proper meal) although it is wise to steer clear of too much junk food.

Having a special birthday cake made to order is a treat for the kids, and time-saving for you! Going to town on table decorations adds to the atmosphere, and there is lots of choice around to match your chosen theme. Outside catering can take a lot of the strain from you, and is not necessarily costly. Providing music and games is fun for the kids, if you or other parents have the energy for it! If not, Party Entertainers now range from the traditional discos, magicians and clowns to the more unusual - live reptiles, magical puppet shows and creative crafts. Most entertainers take on a whole two-hour party, leaving you to relax at least a little bit! Party bags are a nice touch, and can be as simple or as fancy as you like (there is nothing wrong with a piece of cake and one small toy!) Last but by no means least is the option if hiring a bouncy castle/ball pool and the like - these can be small enough to fit in the average living-room. Remember, the specialist party companies can organise all of the above, including the all-important Birthday Cake!

Party Venues
Lots of local places accommodate children's parties, ranging from simply hiring a room or hall to having your child's party at a special venue - you can choose from Children's Playcentres, Hotels, Swimming Pools, Restaurants, Farms and even Pottery Painting! If you are just hiring a room, then you can organise things much as you would at home, choosing to do the catering, decorating and entertaining yourself, or involving the help of professionals. Specialist party venues may need you to add some extras, such as the cakes and party bags, others can do everything for you. Of course, you can combine venues, such as the cinema or theatre with a restaurant, or take a small group of children to the zoo or a farm, and have a party tea there.

Whatever your budget, don't lose sight of the reason for the party - enjoyment all round. Ask the little Birthday Person what sort of party they would like (within reason!) and who they want to invite - get some advice from teachers and playgroup leaders if you don't know all your child's friends.

Spend your money and your time wisely. If money is tight, make the things you can yourself and only spend on the things you can't. Even if you have a reasonable budget you don't need to go over-board - it is better to do a few things very well than try and do too much and end up in a muddle!

GOOD LUCK!

ABC PARTY DIRECTORY
Listed here you will find people and places to help ensure your child's next party is a roaring success. From Cakes to Venues ABC has got it covered!
Restaurants
Bardsley's Fish Restaurant
Brighton 01273 681256
The Barley Mow
Selmeston 01323 811322
Dig in the Ribs
Brighton 01273 325275
Piccolo
Brighton 01273 380380
The Ram Inn
Firle 01273 858222
Terre á Terre
Brighton 01273 729051
Tootsies
Brighton 01273 726777

Cakes
Hilda's Homebakes
Hove 01273 559376

Party Venues
Candy Castle
Brighton 01273 276060
Coombes Farm Tours
Lancing 01273 452028
Borde Hill
H'Heath 01444 450326
Gymboree
Brighton 01273 772900
Downs Leisure Centre
Seaford 01323 490011
Drusilla's
Alfriston 01323 874100
Holmbush Farmworld
Faygate 01293 851110
Komedia
Brighton 01273 647100
Lewes Leisure Centre
Lewes 01273 486000
Lifecycle
Brighton 01273 542425
Meridian Leisure Centre
Peacehaven 01273 588858
Middle Farm
Firle 01323 811411
North Park Farm
Albourne 01273 833643
Portslade Sports Centre
Portslade 01273 411100
Paint Pots
Brighton 01273 696682
The Painting Pottery Café
Brighton 01273 628952
Bognor 01243 824917
Seahaven Pool & Gym
Newhaven 01273 512498
Stoneywish Country Park
Ditchling 01273 843498
Washbrooks
H'pierpoint 01273 832201
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
Arundel 01903 883355

Play Centres
Candy Castle
Brighton 01273 276060
Gymboree
Brighton 01273 772900

Entertainers
Absolute Fun
Brighton 01273 674597
Dandelion Puppets
Poynings 01273 857482
Nosebag
Brighton 01273 623379
Theatre Insomnia
Hove 01273 772817
Jellyroll Workshops
Chichester 07974 752895
Organisers / Accessories
Absolute Fun
Brighton 01273 674597
Birthday Boxes
Brighton 01273 515272
Party Bags
Hove 01273 720589
The 1 Stop Party Shop
Brighton 01273 720017


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