Are you feeling pressured to provide the best children’s party ever? Kate Farr reveals how to cheat your way to the perfect, hassle-free birthday bash.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to turn the most Zen of parents into a frazzled mess, it’s the annual stress-fest that is a children’s party. From invites to cake, there’s a whole host of elements that need to come together to make a birthday bash run smoothly. Happily for those of us who weren’t blessed with superior organisational skills, just about every element of a children’s party is ripe for hacking.
So here are a few tips, tricks and downright sneaky cheats to help hack the hassle and swerve the stress during your next birthday bash.
Take it from the top
Ever found a party invitation crumpled at the bottom of your child’s school bag many weeks after the event? We’ve all been there, and so for the sake of your time and sanity – not to mention the environment – seasoned party hackers should avoid paper invites at all costs.
Choosing an electronic invitation service, such as Paperless Post, keeps the process straightforward and makes your guest list easy to manage digitally. Take it a step further with Hong Kong based Twopresents, who not only sends virtual invites to all your guests, but also gives them the option to send money in lieu of a gift. The funds are then split into two portions, with one for the birthday boy or girl to spend as they choose, and the other being donated to a charity of their choice. This simple site cuts down on the amount of plastic junk you have to home, saves your guests shopping time, and is the ideal solution for the time-poor parent with a party to hack.
While there’s no shortage of professional party entertainers available to delight your little guests, those balloon animals come at a pretty steep price and have to be booked weeks in advance, making a dent in your party budget and upping your planning time. Happily, there are plenty of alternatives for parents wanting to keep a gang of kids amused, and Discovery Bay is the ideal spot for them.
Unless the weather is truly dreadful, hold the party outdoors. This allows kids room to let off steam without destroying your home – just lay on sunscreen and bug spray and you’re good to go. If you have a garden then a water party is great fun, as well as being incredibly easy to organise. Ask invitees to bring spare clothes and a towel, fill a few large storage bins with water and then allocate your guests into teams. Timed wet-sponge relay races, water balloon fights and squirt battles are all sure-fire crowd-pleasers that can easily be refereed by a parent.
Don’t have a garden? Check in with your village management office to see if your local playground is available for hire, or simply hit up Tai Pak Wan.
Food, glorious food
What’s a party without yummy treats? Unfortunately, while the additivepacked, sugary snacks that the majority of us picture when it comes to birthday celebrations may go down well with small people, the majority of parents would probably prefer to jettison the junk, keeping things healthy (and avoiding the dreaded sugar-crash tantrum on the way home too!). Fortunately, festive food is extremely easy to hack while keeping all the fun and flavour.
While Mum and Dad enjoy their celebratory glass of bubbly, children can get in on the act with some sparkles of their own. Add citrus slices to sparkling mineral water for a refreshing tipple, or try infusing whole jugs with mint, cucumber, apple chunks and strawberries for a carbonated cocktail. Meanwhile, swap salty crisps and pretzels in favour of crudités and veggie-based dips, and, assuming no age and allergy restrictions, switch salted peanuts for almonds, walnuts and cashews gently toasted without oil in the oven.
And let’s not forget the main event – birthday cake is everyone’s favourite part of a party, but if inch-thick icing transforms your little angel into something you’d prefer to see caged then there’s a hack for that too. If you’re paying a professional, then ‘naked’ cakes – where the sides remain uniced – are currently all the rage in the world of baking and look just as good as they taste.
Complete Deelite in Central is a top go-to for children’s birthday cakes, and it also hosts baking parties, where kids decorate pre-baked cookies or cupcakes and then bring them home to enjoy on the big day.
If you’re brave enough to DIY then it’s easy to find instructions for a low-sugar cake online. Simply search for diabeticfriendly recipes; you can add natural sweetness later with fruit toppings. Alternatively, for a fun, sugar-and-fat free option, make a watermelon ‘cake’. Slice off both ends of a melon then pat dry, leaving a bright and beautiful base for the toppings of your choice. Whipped cream, berries and, if you’re feeling just a little indulgent, rainbow sprinkles all look and taste fantastic!
So there we have it; perfecting a party is easy with just a few sneaky shortcuts. Now pour yourself a drink – you’ve earned it!