Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to (and how NOT to) throw a Princess Pirates Party for a 7 year old, within Rs 11,000/-

Dont plan a birthday party for a would-be 7 year old and you might have to deal with a grumpy face for the next 365 days. And while I would run at the idea of a party, leave aside throwing one in MY house, 7 is the age when they start to become mini adults, and hence starts the tantrums, the grumpiness, the expectations. And the judgements! My god! Cant we just leave the "you are the worst mom ever" to the teenage years!? But really, after all these years of just cake and a dinner, I think she deserved a small party at home.
Glad to say, apart from a couple of small hitches (excusable, this was my first time), I did it. And it was even proclaimed by one child as "The best birthday party I have ever been to." I kid you not! My chest just swelled 10 times in pride and utter triumph at this comment!
Here goes... what I did, and more important, what I didnt do, and should have done. Learning for next time.
  • Forget about months in advance, unless you want a whole lot of kids attending. If you have a list of about 7-8 kids or less like I had, you can start 2 weeks prior.
  • I asked my daughter to name her good friends in the building. It was a weekday anyway and it did not make sense to call any school friends at this age. The school is far away, the friends are scattered all over the city of Mumbai in the rainy season. Indians dont believe in RSVPs and moreover, I didnt want frayed egos in school. Neither did I want to call 20 children. So building friends it was. She named about 8 one day and probably had a fight with a couple of them in the next few days, so about 10 days prior, we settled on 6 friends. Two boys and 4 girls.
  • Monkey wanted a princess party, but with two 7-8 year old boys coming in, I suggested we make it Princess-Pirate, which she was very happy with. Also, children are particularly partial to popular cartoon themes, so Jake and the Neverland Pirates seem to be a current winner right now.
  • A home party planners best friend and worst friend? Pinterest. While it gives you amazing ideas on themes, decor, food and gifts, the alpha moms there can set the bar just a teeny bit high. My plan was to take ideas though, and do it in my own scaled down version. Still I ended up doing a lot and it cost me sleepless nights and a back breaking day!
  • Lots of free printables on the net. Any google search with "pirate princess party free printables" threw up scores of options. I made the invitation cards from two printables, one princess and one Jake and the Neverland pirates, taken from the Disney page. 

  • These are some of the resources I downloaded from various sites. Disney free downloads are very useful. Many come in PDF files which I cant paste. All you need is a printer and ink cartridges, I spent Rs 2000 on the printer ink alone.
  • I racked my brains on the return gifts. Since this was her special core batch of friends and just 6 kids, I decided to go all out. 

    • One home printed notebook. Pages are free printables from various sites.

    • Along with that I also added printable colouring pages, available dime a dozen on the net.
    • Also added small printed thank you notes, 5 stars (which were gold bars) and chocolate gold coins, which were part of the pirates loot.
    • I got small Rs 8 bottles from a shop in Dadar, and wrote on them 'Pirates Ink' with permanent marker. This was filled with lemon juice, their "Invisible Ink". Everyone got to take home one bottle.

  • I spent maximum amount of money on the take home return gifts. Anyone looking to cut their budget can easily do home made printable crowns, tiaras, wands, pirate hats and card board swords. Thats a savings of straight Rs 4000 odd.
  • Food was home made fruit skewers with cheese and juice for snacks, Pizza, Garlic Bread, Juice, Coca Cola for dinner, and ice cream for dessert. I had planned to get mini dough nuts which kids love, but couldnt get it in time. 
    • For fruit skewers I got pineapple, cherry and cheese cubes (cut into 4 pieces each). On toothpicks skewer the fruits and a cheese. Some kids just loved this. 
    • I made my big mistake in the ordering of the pizza. With children this age it is always safe to just go with plain cheese pizza maybe with a topping of tomato. I ordered only one cheese pizza and two large chicken pizzas (since the group was predominantly non vegetarian). However they became picky about the chicken pizza, all wanted the cheese pizza and I ran out of it soon. One kid left her chicken pizza untouched. I had to call her mom and say that she hadnt had dinner!
    • Second mistake. Less garlic bread. I ordered two servings. But kids just love garlic bread and I should have got one more. I ran out of garlic bread while they were still asking. 
    • Third mistake- dont listen when a kid says I will eat nothing. Once everyone eats, they will too. I would have ordered one more cheese pizza only if this one girl had not come and specifically told me she had a stomach upset and would not eat anything at all.
    • I got Amul vanilla ice cream and Hersheys chocolate sauce and the kids loved it. No need for fancy ice creams. Simple works best. I could have topped it with nuts and Gems and sprinkles or raisins, but who had the time. Learning: keep these things handy! However, they loved it with the chocolate syrup which is anyway tasty.
    • Chocolate cake always works for most kids, but some will be picky and it is best to keep some cup cake or dough nut options handy. Thats my fourth mistake in foods. Learning: Get cup cakes and doughnuts one day early. 
  • I had planned plenty of games. Two hours were divided into 10-15 mins slots (keeping 30 mins for food and cake cutting) with games in each slot.
  • Kids nowadays are used to professionally managed birthday parties with games planned and arranged. I had some kids ASKING for games constantly. I had made a poster of Jake the pirate, and the kids played blindfolded- put the eye-patch on the pirate.
  • I had a childhood set of 9 pins of my daughters. A narrow corridor in front of the rooms got converted into a bowling alley.
  • We made Invisible Ink with lemon juice. I had already pressed some lemons and kept, and some were left for the kids. They had fun squeezing the lemons and getting the juice out. They wrote their messages with a paint brush. 
  • I had arranged for "walk the plank" with cardboard strips, but there was no time to play.
  • With lots of balloons, the kids went crazy playing balloon volleyball. This was unplanned but they had such fun, I started fearing the neighbours would complain!
  • I planned a Treasure Hunt. Now this is what the kids were super excited about. I am so proud of my treasure hunt. They played in one team and the treasure was all their goody bags. This was a roaring success and the kids went mad running from one clue to another. More about the treasure hunt in my next blog.
  • I had bought face paints and tattoos but they didnt get used.
  • I bought black cloth for Rs 80/mt, 2 mts and cut them to make bandannas for each child. Home made eye patches with ribbons also were a huge success.
  • Cost: 
    • Erasers and Stickers- Rs 500
    • Pirate set (2)- Rs 598
    • Tiara-wand-jewellery princess set (5) - Rs 3300
    • Bottles- Rs 50
    • Lamination of bookmarks- Rs 160 for 16
    • Books- Rs 1183
    • Bandana cloth- Rs 150
    • Cake- Rs 1700
    • Pizza and garlic bread- Rs 1500
    • Juice and Cheese- Rs 300
    • Ice cream- Rs 200
    • Cherries- Rs 100
    • Chocolates- Rs 400
    • Decorations, balloons, streamers, ribbons etc- Less than Rs 900
    • Total: Rs 11,000 or less.
  • I am leaving out the printer ink- That was Rs 2000.
  • I am also leaving out the face paint since it wasnt used. That was Rs 1500.
  • Dont buy the princess and pirate sets (Rs 4000 approx) and straight away the total amount goes down to Rs 7,000.
  • Shopping areas- 
    • Dadar for small items like erasers, stickers, cloth, bottles, fruits.
    • Crawford market for all party decorations
    • Hamleys for the girls return gifts, face paint and tattoos
    • Online for the boys return gifts, books. (babyoye and amazon)

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