Kids' birthday parties are supposed to be fun, but for the parents doing the planning, they can feel like a nightmare.
Creative parenting expert Nikki Bush says if you have the space, a 'home-made' party is still the best option and will save you a bundle into the bargain.
Keeping young children busy is a good idea, to prevent them going into destruction mode.
You have to create little activity stations and those 15 or 20 children who come, work through the stations... some are just free play and with some they make their own party packs.— Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert
One evergreen theme is the construction party, says Bush.
Not only do you use what you already probably already have stored in boxes or cupboards like Lego or wooden blocks, the guests can also create their own party packs - using Tennis biscuits cut into appropriate shapes and decorated with icing to build their houses.
The children create this little work of art... then you leave them to dry... you pop them in a cellophane packet and that is their party pack.— Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert
Other interchangeable themes are mermaids and pirates or princes and princesses.
Using a large picture of the mermaid Ariel for instance, you just change the subject of the traditional 'pin the tail on the donkey' game.
You could also put a different spin on the old favourite, 'musical chairs', by calling the game 'musical islands' instead.
You can put swimming towels down or cushions...— Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert
A pirate-themed party also solves the problem of the dreaded party pack, with a list of items to find during a treasure hunt.
It could include a pirate patch... a big chocolate coin... a sealed marshmallow fish... That keeps them busy and they've created their own party pack— Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert
For more fun ideas, take a listen: