Monday 22 May 2017

Financially Planning a 7 Year Old Boy's Birthday

So it's that time of year where I cast my mind over to Aaron's birthday. This year it is VERY last minute dot com. 

A bit of historical context... SO when he turned 4 in 2014 we went to Peppa Pig World. Yeah you think, "let's go to a theme park" "it'll be cheaper than throwing a party" WRONG!!! We easily spent £300 and no we didn't stay the night, but we did have a wonderful time. We spent pretty much the whole day calling daddy "Daddy Pig" which was great fun - see video below ;-)

We didn't organise things very well so paid cash on the door not realising it is cheaper to book in advance online. I wasn't as meticulous back then about bringing drinks and food EVERYWHERE so that cost the earth - but you live and learn and this Mum is now 100% a frugal mum (just don't look at all the rotting veg in my cripser trays in the bottom of the fridge. Daddy has just found them and I'm in the dog house).

I also became meticulous about combing and coconut oiling Aaron's hair which I can clearly tell from this photo and video that I didn't do that day. I KNOW it was an early start but Mamma of 2014 what were you thinking... I guess he hadn't started school yet then whereas now I KNOW full well how to get ready (including hair) at breakneck speed and no it is not because of the short back and sides. He didn't have that in Reception thank you very much :-)

2015 we decided for the first time in Aaron's life to do an actual party. Me and Daddy disagreed as I wanted to do it at home but he wanted to book a venue, so we did the latter and wow that mounts up. You have the venue hire, plus the cost of hiring a bouncy castle, food, a character (often called Mascot) and goodie bags plus room decorations (like the Spiderman you see in the pic). This Mamma made 2 big mistakes. I made the length of the party 3 hours and the 3rd hour really really dragged. I booked the venue for 3.5 hours and I had people arriving whilst I was still trying to set up the hall - yeah the shame of it. But Aaron LOVED it and I think will always remember it. We had all of the usual problems like (1) people really don't RSVP it's true but luckily as a SAHM I could just approach everyone in the playground and (2) yes people do arrive with siblings. So what was a winner for me was I had a class list of everyone's names so when I did gendered goodie bags I knew what proportion to do of each and also I just minussed who I knew definitely wasn't coming rather than adding up who I knew was. It meant I had the right amount as nearly his WHOLE CLASS turned up. Yes I invited the whole class. Back then in reception they haven't formed their little groups yet and they're all friends together so it worked. I even had goodie bags for siblings.

2016 came along and I just knew what sort of party I wanted and it was what Aaron wanted too. We went to a few soft play parties and saw how the staff did everything and the Mum could actually relax. We wanted some of that. Plus as long as your party is a few hours before closing you get to spend the rest of the day in there free of charge and luckily if a few of your mates are willing to stay behind too, it feels like an all day party = BARGAIN. Complete bliss too when (1) Daddy minds the baby (Lottie had arrived by then) and (2) Aaron's friends have Mums who are my friends so picture lots of sitting around eating, drinking and giggling while hot sweaty kids play and only trouble us when they need a drink. Yes it was bliss and I need to scratch my head and work out why we're not doing that again this year LOL. Financially this was WHOLE HEARTEDLY the most affordable party. THEY sorted the goodie bags THEY sorted the food and drink THEY supplied the venue and THEY had a children's entertainer AND disco! Oh and.... THEY supply the invitations. If the first party you ever do is one of these you'll take it for granted BUT if you experience doing it all from scratch yourself this feels like bliss. I wanted to headbutt something when I was trying to do goodie bags as everything comes in multiples of 3, 4 or 6 and it really adds up when you have to buy a few of each pack. Wouldn't be a problem NOW as I am a member of Costco and can buy in proper whole bulk, rather than retail's commercial version of bulk.

So this, drumroll, brings me full circle round to 2017, what are we going to do? It's less than a month away. Oh and by the way, I really am saying that 2016 was the most affordable as I even paid the deposit and settled the bill myself without getting help from Daddy. So we were quids in with that one. I did start being conscientious with money from the February though. This year his friends are doing 10 pin bowling parties. But we've been to a few of theirs so don't feel we need to do ours too. Aaron's ultimate wish this year is going to Legoland but as I know how costly THAT is, the current plan is to cut out the Legoland tokens from the Sun newspaper, but I haven't started buying it yet so have missed the first few but I think you don't have to buy it everyday to qualify. Yep just checked on that link. It's from May 20th to June 6th and you only have to collect 10 so I should be able to manage it. Only trouble is you get the tickets in up to 28 days after attaching the tokens to a form and sending it off. But we'll get two tickets worth up to £120 so that's worth doing and we've always wanted to go. He's seen the adverts now too so wants to go even more. I've always known it was good as I've watched SO many vlogs of day trips there. He's been to Thomas Land 7 times so it's about time we went somewhere different. I've heard Legoland is so big and so good you can't even do it all in one day.

I wrote recently, a couple of posts ago, about how I want to up my game as a Pro Blogger. I feel I need to add my worth financially to the family, which I haven't really done since being made redundant in 2012. Anything I get from blogging is usually pocket money but I know it is now possible to earn a decent living from blogging and vlogging and even Instagram. I paid off all of my loans and credit cards prior to having Aaron, so my only source of spare money is literally my overdraft. I know there are pay day loans bad credit and I have NO credit history now, but in order to have one of those you need a pay day and it's a long time since I've had one of those. Luckily I have the husband, but as Lottie gets older and more independent my reasons not to work (and provide) disappear. It's kind of staring me in the face that I need to start earning again and SOON if I'm going to sort out Aaron's birthday, as of course the celebrations are only one element as there are the GIFTS too......! He hasn't even said or decided what he wants yet. It's all been about parties and/or Legoland. The good thing though is that me starting to earn has already begun. I have a very exciting project coming up in June with Talk to Mums and I'm really looking forward to that. I will be blogging about it. My Mum is hoping to visit from Ireland soon and she's even hoping she will be here for that. Oh that might even mean she is here FOR Aaron's birthday. Oh I am excited now. She hasn't booked her flight yet though :-( but is getting closer to tying up all of her loose ends (her car just sold on Friday as just one example) so fingers crossed I'll soon be getting an arrival date from her that I can look forward to as she hasn't been over since September 2016 and we haven't been to Ireland since May 2015. Plus, if we are ever to go again some financial planning is required on that score too. Check this out: Aaron's passport has expired, so has mine and Lottie doesn't have one yet, so we'd have the cost of that in addition to flights and spending money. Yeah Mum, book that flight it is cheaper for you to come here :-)

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