Planning a winter party and other problems.
Updated: Apr 8, 2019
I debated whether this was really an appropriate post on what has been one of the saddest weeks NZ has known in recent history- it is after all a blog about first world problems. So please, let us feel grateful that most of us only have to navigate these type of problems on a day to day basis.
With the cooler months fast approaching, I thought it could be helpful to provide some venue ideas for indoor parties as well as some catering options to suit busy parents. Of all the wonderful parents I know, they all have different challenges and priorities. While some might be fabulous cake bakers and decorators or watermelon carvers (haha), others might struggle financially to outsource anything party realted that would make it easier and some are so pushed for time that life extras like birthday parties just become stressful and expensive simply to get off the ground. It's easy to say that we shouldn't feel pressure when it comes to things like hosting your kids birthday party, but I know that in reality many of you do, so I would love to give you some ideas on making it sustainable to life and of course maintaining our eco friendly approach to celebrations.
If having a party at home is not right for you for any reason then hopefully you can find somewhere below that will suit your child and budget. This is mainly Auckland based I'm sorry but please feel free to comment with any great venue options in your home town.
Ive tried to choose places that you can still provide decor and food options to keep the cost and waste to a minimum.
Playcentres- various locations. This is the first and most obvious choice to me. Not just because we are a "playcentre family" haha... Most towns around the country will have one local and they really are a box ticker. Though each centre will set their own price, they're generally under $100 for the whole day. There are lots of toys and play equipment on site, a kitchen, toilets, tables and chairs. If the weathers bad, you'll still have space and entertainment which is a weight off your shoulders when the weather is unpredictable. You can still jazz it up with decorations, a face painter or a bouncy castle if there's space but none of that will be missed if you dont.
For more of a blank canvas, you can try your local hall, YMCA or swimming pool.
Break down by location in Auckland.
*Anchorage park community house Highland Park. $30 per hour. Fits up to 50 people. Includes use of kitchen facilities, play area and furniture. Room for a bouncy castle.
*LLoyd Elsmore park pool and leisure centre Pakuranga. Pool parties $218 for 2 hours in the teaching pool. Also options to hire a lane only. https://www.aucklandleisure.co.nz/locations/east/lloyd-elsmore-park-pool-and-leisure-centre/venue-hire/
*Friends building Bontanical Gardens. $75 for a half day, holds up to 45 people. Kitchen and tables/chairs included in hire. http://www.aucklandbotanicgardens.co.nz/our-venues/friends-building/
*Gravity trampoline park Manukau. $100 for party area for 2.5 hours (this doesn't include the individuals entry which is $10-$17 depending on age). Self catering or order pizza!. http://www.gravitynz.co.nz/parties/
* Bruce Pullman park gym. $180 for 2 hours up to 15 children ($15 per additional child) . Price includes an hour with a gym instructor and private party room. Self catering, has pie warmer and microwave but no oven. https://pulmanpark.com/kidsbirthday/
*Adventure golf Treasure Island (mini golf) Auckland Airport. Packages range from $12-15 per chlild. Self catering. BBQ available at extra cost. http://www.adventuregolf.co.nz/locations/treasure-island-auckland/birthday-parties/
*Flippin fun trampoline park Westgate. $75 for party room for 2.5 hours (this doesn't include individual entry which is $10-$27 per child, depending on age and how long they jump for). Self catering. http://www.flippinfun.co.nz/parties/
*Kiwi valley farm Henderson. This might not be great if the weather is really bad but I always like visiting animal farms/zoos when the weather is a bit below average as the animals seem happier and aren't hiding in the shade and theres genreally less people visiting. Kiwi valley farm has an indoor barn for parties, self catering option (bbqs available). Cost is per child ($17-$20, minimum 8 children). http://www.kiwivalley.co.nz/birthday-parties/
*Blastacars Henderson (also has Hamilton Branch) $40 per child which includes 30min racing, party room (self catering), gift pack for birthday child and games. https://blastacars.co.nz/auckland-children
*North shore trampoline Silverfield, Wairua Valley. Up to 10 kids- $175- or $230 for up to 20 kids. Includes1 hour of bouncing and 1 hour in the party space. Self catering. https://northshoretrampoline.co.nz/birthday-parties *Party Kingdom Stanmore Bay. Indoor playland. Prices vary from $20-30 per child depending on party package. Self catering available. https://www.partykingdom.co.nz/party-packages
*Inflatable world Glenfield. Packages are $150 for two hours for 10 children. Self catering or order in Pizza. Must remove your waste. http://www.inflatableworld.co.nz/stadiums/glenfield/parties
*Onehunga plunket room. $50- $75 https://www.plunket.org.nz/plunket/show/onehunga-plunket-playgroup-and-committee
*Stardome One tree hill. $300 +GST. Includes party room, access to kitchen, foyer displays and planetarium show. https://www.stardome.org.nz/venue-hire/kids-birthday-parties/
Flip and fly circus parties Eden terrace. Packages include sole hire of venue for 2 hours, various circus activities and games with trained staff. $30 per child (minimum 10 children) Party tables and chairs are provided for you to decorate. Due to the type of activity it's recommedned you provide light snacks only. https://flipnfly.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Birthday-Party-package-2018.pdf
*ASB stadium childrens sports parties Kohimaramra. Packages from $225 for 12 kids including 1.5 hours of hosted avtivities and a private party room. Self catering, kitchenette avaialable onsite. https://www.barfootstadium.co.nz/childrens-parties.html *Glendowie community centre. Two different room options- The smaller one fits 20 people and costs $35, or the larger fits 50 people and costs $45. Both rooms include kitchen facilities and tables/chairs. Option to hire a bouncy castle for $85. http://www.glendowiecommunitycentre.org.nz/childrens-birthday-party-venue.html
*Gravity trampoline park Mt Wellington. $100 for party area for 2.5 hours (this doesn't include the individuals entry which is $10-$17 depending on age). Self catering or order pizza!. http://www.gravitynz.co.nz/parties/
*Swimtastic pools St Johns. Not the cheapest option ive come across at $400 for 2 hours but if you have a water loving kid, this sounds fun. https://www.swimtastic.co.nz/pool-hire/parties
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
The other thing I thought I'd briefly tackle is party food for busy and tired parents or those who perhaps don't deem themselves "domestic Goddess" like.
*Pizza is usually a crowd pleaser and even has some allergy friendly options like GF bases and vegan cheese (Hells pizza). If your venue doesn't have kitchen facilities or you're looking for minimum fuss food- delivery pizza is for you. Hire one of our party boxes and take your pizza boxes home to compost and you've basically got yourself a waste free party. https://hellpizza.com/
*Some food outlets are allowing you to provide your own containers to take food away in. Don't be afraid to ask your local sushi place or caterer if they can accomodate this. Your cake shop might even pop your purchase straight into your own container to save you getting rid of a giant box. St Pierres sushi offer a small discount when you BYO container. https://stpierres.co.nz/menu
*Zambrero is a mexican food outlet who allow customers to bring their own containers. They also provide some delicious and healthy options, allergy friendly and vegan options also available. They have a kids menu and they offer catering options- just enquire with your local store. https://www.zambrero.co.nz/menu
*If cheap and cheerful is what you're after and you'll have access to a BBQ, go for a good old fashion kiwi sausage sizzle. Keep it waste free by finding a butcher who'll allow you to take your own containers to collect the sausages (i've heard that some Mad butchers will allow this if you're local butcher is a bit spendy for kids sausages), take your bread bags or large brown paper bags to bakers delight or local baker to get some loaves of sliced bread or buns, grab a few onions, a bottle of sauce, block of butter and you're good to go.
*Grazing platters are popular even for kids parties (kids are so trendy these days) and you can certainly do a home made version, though it's not as quick and easy to do without packaged foods. However if you wanted to keep it very simple with fruit and vege crudites, snacks from the bulk bins such as nuts, dried fruit and lollies and make some homemade dips and crossonti you can provide a waste free spread that will travel well and with fairly little prep. You could always jazz it up a bit by buying a box of fancy doughnuts or baking to scatter amoungst the more basic food. If you hire a service to do it for you, let them know you're trying to keep it low waste so they can tailor the platter for you, such as no wrapped sweets and letting you provide your own alternatives to disposable serveware they might usually use.
*Remember that the cake is always the star of every kids party. If you're doing a 2 hour party at a venue, you can totally get away with a few simple snacks, a cake and no more.
Hopefully I have shown you how many great options there are for a sustainable, stress free kids party even with the many restraints we face as parents. I welcome you to add any links and ideas on other great venues that don't end in a mountain of plastic or disposable waste and food outlets who support customers to bring their own containers to take food away in or provide compostable packaging.