Pressure mounts at party time Being a parent of little ones is especially hard when it comes to their birthday parties. There's a huge amount of pressure to invite everyone in your child’s class, produce amazing home-made food, not to mention the ‘birthday cake to rival all cakes’, pay for entertainment in the form of clowns and fairies, or have contortionists twisting balloons into daschunds, and then still be able to smile benignly three hours later as you pass out the most amazing party bags for everyone to take home? If that sounds familiar, read on… Budget friendly Before the GFC, the trend for kids parties was for expensive theming and hiring in kids entertainers, called ‘talent’ or taking Little Johnny and 20 mates to an external venue and spending a small fortune. As with all trends in society, the pendulum always swings back, especially when the coffers dry up. Nowadays, there’s a swing in favour of the more traditional forms of entertainment for parties, which parents can manage themselves, at home. And this is where creative activities like craft come to the fore. Creativity is best We all know that kids are fine as long as they are entertained, by which I mean, engrossed in what they are doing. And the more actively involved they are, the longer they stay engaged. Give them something to draw and colour in and get involved in and have them use their hands and their creativity. Cut out some stencils for them so they’ve something to work from and give them a theme. Within minutes, something magic will occur; a lovely calm will descend among the group, tongues will be stuck out in determined concentration and fingers will curl tightly around their favourite coloured crayon. Let the scribbling begin. Iron-on designs We recently used iron-on crayons and colouring pens at the Yarra Valley Food & Wine Festival that we had a stand at. They were really effective. The kids drew, designed, coloured in and decorated plain white cotton tea towels and placemats and wrote their name or message (we were there with assistance for those who needed it). We then simply placed a sheet of baking paper over their design and ironed them for 5 minutes, which sets the colours and stops them from smudging. If you don’t have time to heat set them at the party – just pop the designs into a clean plastic bag and parents can iron them when they get home. At the festival we must have had 35 kids come and sit and draw on their tea towels and colour them in. Half an hour later, they left our stand happy and satisfied, clutching their ironed on designs, beaming with pride. Kay Trembath runs Crumbz Craft, a craft and haberdashery shop in the main street in Healesville in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. Kay runs kids birthday parties at her craft room at her shop, as well as a series of craft workshops for kids during school holidays. She sells sets of the iron-on crayons and pens with tea-towels and placemats for kids to decorate at home. www.crumbz.com.au 03 5962 6635.