birthday party costs
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Birthday party costs

How much do you spend on your child’s birthday party? And do you set a limit on the number of guests?

We asked some Mums what their average birthday party costs.

1. Mum of five, Eleanor Charles

We’ve had so many parties at home and only a handful in play-centres. Having had four children, (now five by happy accident!), I’ve always tried to be thrifty, or maybe I’m a miser at heart. I don’t like to limit numbers just for financial reasons, but I don’t like to invite just anyone because the kids want loads of presents! Having a party at home is ideal as you can invite as many as you need to.

We’ve had so many parties at home and I’ve always tried to get it all in under €100, I say try as invariably there’s always a last minute panic and another tenner spent. When the children were smaller we played traditional games, musical chairs, pass the parcel and statues. I made krispie buns, popcorn, sausages etc, and usually had a homemade cake or an ice cream cake.

As they get older it becomes more difficult, they are influenced heavily by what other people are doing for their parties. So the nagging for laser tag, bowling or karting is inevitable. I only ever agreed to these ideas when they were a bit older and if they kept the numbers down and only invited their best buddies.

We played laser tag one year and it ended up costing what I deem a small fortune, €240. I didn’t realise that they didn’t do a cake or party bags included in the price and ended up shamefaced when it came time to blow out the candles. Mortified, I ended up arranging for a few guys to come to ours another day and have a small ‘party’ and do the cake part – more money.

The best party we had, well according to the guests was a treasure hunt. They still talk about it five years on. It didn’t cost a lot but it required a bit of arranging. We set clues and I tacked letters on card to trees in our local woods about an hour before the party started. It cost about €100 and the house stayed untouched, and that for me was the real icing on the cake.

2. Mum of two, Eugenie Wilson-Bower

I have two girls aged seven and 10. They are in different stages when it comes to parties, as one likes smaller intimate groups, while the other wants everyone to come! Ironically each party costs about the same: €200 at a guess.

For many years, we had parties at home always: I would make buns and the kids could decorate them with various icings and toppings. Then always a bouncy castle and some snacks. The bouncy castle is the biggest expense at about €90, but I think it’s nice for the guests and birthday girl to have a focal point and something physical to do that burns off all the goodies. There would be about 20/25 kids depending on which class it was (my older daughter’s school class is much larger then the younger one).

I do a lot of baking, so pride myself on making my kids’ birthday cakes depending on what they request. I don’t give out party bags because I just don’t think they need them, but each child gets to take home their decorated bun.

Recently, we have started doing venue parties with our older child. She had a roller disco party this year with eight friends. I made the cake, and it was €12 a head for three hours of skating and a slice of pizza. She loved it. I limited the amount of kids that came for two reasons: firstly I wanted to keep an eye on everyone so a smaller group is better, and secondly my daughter thought it was nice to have just her close friends there.

3. Mum of two, Anita McGarr

“The annual planning of the birthday party in this house always brings great excitement. Choosing the cake is the number one concern and the venue comes a close second. I have one child on the birthday party circuit at the moment and I only started with non-family parties when he started in Junior Infants. He is seven now and a March baby, so he gets to go to a lot of parties before his own which helps us to experience the different venues before we choose.

On average, we have spent about €200 per party, not including his birthday presents. Unfortunately, we don’t have the space at home for parties so we’ve always gone the play-centre route. This usually works out around €12-15 per child depending on where we go. Our latest find is on the cheaper scale and includes a party bag and invitations, which helps to cut down on the extra expense. I did actually enjoy putting together the party bags but they definitely add up.

I always make a cake, so that brings up the cost with ingredients and decoration – my son has very elaborate ideas for his cakes every year! I haven’t had to set a limit on numbers yet. I’m happy to pay for around 15 children and his guest list has usually been around that so far.”

More like this:

School costs
Baby budgeting basics
Birthday party inspiration

ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.