Wrapping parties around a tight budget
WHILE SOME PARENTS are still operating at the upper end of the spectrum with glamorous themed parties for their children, for many it’s a back-to-basics approach.Some children’s party providers are now offering cheaper deals and discounts while many parents are choosing to eschew the play centre altogether in favour of partying at home.
If you do choose to have your party hosted in a play centre, you will find that many have made their prices more competitive; where prices have remained the same they are offering better bang for your buck.
The Dome Family Entertainment Centre in Carlow is just one facility which offers an online booking discount and two “recession busting party packages”.
Susan Gilmore of Gymboree Ireland ( playandmusic.ie) says she is now offering more value for money, with better quality food in larger quantities and the addition of party bags. In April 2008, Gilmore was hosting up to 15 parties per week but then her party business “fell off a cliff”.
This year has seen business return to 2007 levels – an indication of “green shoots” and a return to the “new normal”, as she sees it.
The company charges €15 per child which includes entertainment, games and activities, food and party bags (with edible treats rather than toys). The cost is €150 should you host the party in your own home or venue – quite a competitive price considering there is then no limit to the number of children.
Ronan MacGabhann of children’s entertainment company Silly Billy ( sillybilly.ie) says his prices are much reduced from a number of years ago. Packages that previously cost between €220 and €240 are now available at a keen €140 midweek and €160 at weekends for an unspecified number of children (though the average party size is between 10 and 20).
There are a number of themed parties available, including Fair Princess and Superhero, and all parties have a bubble disco, puppet show and magic show, although food is not part of the package.
MacGabhann also says the number of party bookings dropped off during the summer of 2008. “It was as though even people with money were afraid to spend it,” he says. “Recently people seem to have gained more confidence and business is up. Customers now are extremely price conscious. It must be good value or people simply won’t pay for it.”
Louisa Crowley is an antenatal practitioner and mother of four children aged between four and 13. Crowley says that parties in adventure centres among her children’s friends are less popular than in the past and that many children are now partying at home.