With the surmounting pressure of daily life, more people are turning to using external "do-it-all" venues for their children's birthday parties. But are they as great as they're cracked up to be?
Personally, I've done both and I've found that there are pro's an cons to both.
Certainly, they're a much easier outlet for older, and more energetic boys who are particularly interested in go-karting, laser tag etc.
Particularly in the cases of girls parties, and the younger crowd, here are a few of my findings, and suggestions to putting your own spin on things either way!
1 - Food
Most party venues sell the promise of saving you time and effort. Though this can be true (as long as they are a full package venue), you will usually have other things to sacrifice, like being limited to the quality and types of food served, which can be difficult for those of us with children that have allergies. So I've always had to make and provide food over and above the cost of the venues quote.
2 - Money Saved
If you can find a venue that includes an entertainer in it's costs, as well as food then you have a winner. But having a party at home can be far more cost effective, and young children are more than happy to have an older sibling (or baby sitter, which we've used at minimal cost) get into dress up's and play a few games with them.
Other entertainment options at home are hiring a bouncy castle, laser tag hire for older kids, and/or an entertainer (if you're not using a parent, sibling or other teenager to help :-).
Remember also, that stylish food (and healthier options as per the image below) can be achieved without too much effort, and almost no cooking. Whether you plate yourself or tap into a catering type of service like Food Estate.
3 - Decor
Most venues will limit you to the decor that can be used. Many don't allow any additional decor. In these cases, I would recommend at least getting a catering party package in your theme of choice. And also providing your own party bags. This will add a bit of sophistication to a potentially ordinary environment, and introduce the chosen theme choice of your birthday child! Most venues will allow you to bring your own plates, cups etc.
Personally, I enjoy the decorating process, and so a home party serves me well because I can start prepping up to a week in advance. With just a little time spent each day setting up decorations, takes the pressure off a speedy decor set up on the day and allows me to do all the other things a mum has to get to each day!
I also find, engaging my kids in helping create the party environment gives us some amazing bonding moments and gives them a sense of pride and ownership over the event (even if I only let them pack the lolly bags :-). Teaching them how to host and take care of their guests.
4 - Connecting and Making Friends
To me, a party is an occasion to not just celebrate one person's birthday/achievements, but also an opportunity to celebrate friendships or to create new ones and deepen existing relationships. So whether you'd like to do that in the environment of your home, where you can extend invitations for people to linger longer, or whether you use a venue or park venue where you can linger and bbq - remember that it's all about the memories.
The decorations and all the prep are just meant to create a festive environment and backdrop to your (or birthday person's) personality! And of course, sharing the Love...!