Guest Post – The Pros and Cons of a Night Out

A night on the tiles – it’s a tradition that’s been around for decades. Friday and Saturday nights are made for letting our hair down, something I’ve done quite a few times! However, as I’m getting a little older and have all the responsibilities of being a mother to handle, I wonder whether going out is quite as fun as it used to be.

Pros

  • Nights out are great if you want a change of scenery
  • They allow you to meet new people, especially friends of friends
  • A night out could be anything you want it to be – a film, a few drinks at a pub/nightclub or even a football match

Cons

  • They can be expensive – taxis, drinks and takeaway food can cost over £50 a night!
  • They don’t always go to plan
  • They can be exhausting

The cons of nights out got me thinking – should I have nights in at home instead? I want to be closer to the kids, but I still want to have fun with my friends and a night in gives me the best of both worlds.

The perfect night in

Food – always have snacks prepared. Whether they’re simple like chips or something fancy like vol-au-vents, it’s important to have food prepared for a night in. I would like to see a platter or buffet that we can pick and choose from.

Drink – cocktails are fun, and they’re not that difficult to make if you find the right recipes online. However, I think wine’s better as you can just pick some up from the nearest corner shop and my friends can bring some with them too!

Games – again, head to the internet for ideas. I found online bingo to be a lot of fun, and everyone else can play at the same time, but puzzles are fun too. Board games are just as exciting, as they’re good for groups of friends.

Staying in for a change

It seems that I’m not alone in thinking a night in sounds like a great idea. A survey for Ladbrokes Bingo showed just over 66% of women would rather have a night in than a night out. I didn’t expect to read that, but it’s true!

The same survey also had some more bizarre pieces of data. I didn’t think, for example, that 30.8% of women worried about their tights falling down during a night out, but that’s part of what makes staying in so appealing.

Disclosure: This is a Guest Post on behalf of Ladbrokes Bingo

Children’s Party Planning on a Budget

Last week Pumpkin turned 1 and we had a fab party with family and friends to celebrate. I wanted to share some tips with you for children’s parties on a budget. I should confess, some of these lessons were learnt the hard way but overall we are happy with how the budgeting went.

1. Consider Sharing the Costs

This may not be possible in all circumstances, but our NCT group had three babies born on consecutive days. We decided to hold a joint party, inviting our NCT friends and a few extra family and friends each. This was a great way to share the cost and planning of the party. Think about sharing with family or friends.

2. Frugal Party Food

In my experience, people never eat as much at a party as you would think. There are so many other distractions that the food isn’t a huge priority. Think about the timing of your party. Ours ran 2.00-4.30pm so all we needed to provide were snacks. We went along the lines of afternoon tea – home made scones, cupcakes, biscuits etc with tea or coffee, and a selection of soft drinks. For the babies we had some of Pumpkin’s favourite snacks – cucumber, grapes, rice cakes etc. Ask people to help out with the preparation. Plenty of people offered to make cakes for us saving both time and money.

3. Entertainment

For a baby’s party, the entertainment can be kept simple. We decided to hire in some soft play equipment for the little ones. We found a couple of local companies and realised the importance of shopping around. The first quote was for £100 but then I found another company through Facebook which had a larger selection of equipment for just £50 – half the price. We also took Pumpkin’s walker, a few of her toys and her play mat so we could set up a toy corner. Remember that things can get broken so its probably best to leave expensive toys or your child’s favourites at home.

4. Pick a Theme?

A theme can be a huge help with party planning as it keeps you on track and allows you to think creatively. As our party was the weekend before Halloween it seemed obvious to go with that as a theme. We mixed in Halloween napkins with plain white, picked up decorations from Poundland, Tesco and Sainsburys. For example Tesco had witches hats and masks for 20p each which we dotted around the room. It really helped to cement the theme for only a couple of quid.

We really wanted some helium balloons and instead of £8 for number ‘1’ shaped balloons we chose Orange and Black star shaped balloons for £1.25 each from the cheap card shop. We kept them individually weighted and allowed the older children to take them home at the end of the party.

5. Call in Favours

Do you know any friends with skill you could call on? A friend made personalised bunting which hung as decoration and doubled up as a gift. Another friend had a bouncy castle we were able to borrow for free. Ask around, people are always generous.

6. What Can Be Cut?

Assuming your budget is limited in some way, you may find that you just can’t do everything within your budget. We chose not to do party bags as the guests ranged from baby’s to 10 years old which made them difficult to plan. Instead, at the end we gave away the balloons and some of the Halloween decorations to the older children. We invited parents to take some left over cakes, biscuits and sweets which used up a lot of leftovers. Just keep a cheap roll of food bags (try Wilkinsons or Lidl) for people to fill.

I hope this has given you some ideas. Please feel free to let me know your top party planning tips in the comments!

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