How to throw a palace-worthy birthday bash (without a royal budget)
The Beckhams aren't the only ones that have lost the plot when it comes to children's birthday parties.
Harper Beckham isn't the first six-year-old girl to request a princess-themed party, but she's certainly in the rarified position of spending her birthday in a real life palace with an actual princess.
David Beckham caused a media storm this week after sharing pictures from his daughter's sixth birthday party, hosted by none other than Prince Andrew and his royal daughters. The former footballer and doting dad posted a photo of Harper and pals posing with Princess Eugenie of York in the opulent surrounds of Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the Queen of England.
Following significant backlash and public concerns about whether or not UK taxpayer's had been forced to foot the bill for a children's party, David was forced to backtrack quickly in a further Instagram post:
"Just to be clear this wasn't the palace opening the gates for Harper's birthday party , this was a tea party where us and other guests were invited so it was a beautiful thing to do with My mum, Harper plus a few school friends... We were honored to be able to there."
Even palace officials got involved in the to-do about the do, with a senior source having to confirm that the event and refreshments were paid for privately.
Party planning gone mad?
The Beckham might have taken in to the next level, but they're certainly not the only ones with notions. Kids' parties have become hugely expensive, competitive, and a source of massive stress for many modern parents. Although birthday celebrations are a right of passage, recent (increasingly extravagant) Irish trends such as back garden petting zoos, manicure sessions, and double-decker party busses have turned party planning into a right pain in the bum.
That being said, children are only small for a wee while and before you know it they will be temperamental tweens who don't want to party anywhere near you, so it's nice to celebrate their birthday while they'll still allow it.
Here are our five top tips on how to organise a children's birthday bash that doesn't involve Buckingham Palace...
1. Organise early
Organising yourself early is the key to planning any stress-free party. Sit down with your child and figure out what they really want from their birthday. Establish a location for the party. If your house or garden is large enough for a party have it at home. Children will not remotely notice if your house isn't immaculate so don't bother with a huge cleaning spree or repainting the kitchen. Local community halls and GAA clubs are also great party venues and are usually pretty reasonable price-wise. In almost eight years of attending kids' parties I'm yet to see a basic bouncy castle in a big hall fail to please (no matter what the age group).
2. Keep your guest list small
There is a perception in Ireland that you have to invite every kid in your child's class, which is fine if the class numbers are small but over thirty children can make for a very overwhelming guest list and experience. Six to ten party guests is totally acceptable. Ask your child to help you make the guest list and to name their closest pals or those they play with most often. Small parties are a lot less stressful and will help you keep the costs low. If you aren't inviting the whole class do try and be discreet with the party invitations to avoid hurt feelings and disgruntled parents.
3. Keep it simple
Shop-bought cakes are pretty expensive and most children are so stuffed with the other sweets and crisps that they hardly touch the cake. You can't go wrong with a train themed cake by buying two chocolate logs, some jammy dodgers for the wheels and jelly snakes to connect one carriage to another, or a good old caterpillar cake. Smarties or M&Ms are great to add colour to your creation and more importantly the kids really love the classics.
4. Make Menus
If you are serving savoury food at the party do up some fancy menus on your computer and allow older children to order as they would in a real restaurant. Have two easy to make options on the menu like burgers or chicken nuggets, several drink options and offer either chocolate or vanilla ice cream for dessert. Smallies will get a real kick out of it and it will make them feel really grown up. Be warned: you may end up with a lot of children shouting at you at once. All in the name of fun though eh?
5. Sport never fails
As a boy-mum to 'Irish twins' the one thing I've learned is that organised sports keep a pack of little boys manageable. You can hire soccer coaches to come to parties and teach the kids a few tricks on the pitch and separate the children into teams for a match. Having seen some in action I reckon any football savvy other half could do the same and it will save you spending a fortune. Set up makeshift goals if you don't have them and award prizes for things like 'man of the match' and 'top scorer'. You should have a little prize for everyone at the party so you don't hurt anyone's feelings. Ask guests to bring their football or GAA jerseys and boots to the party to create a sporty theme. Sorted.