Party essentials at Ikea - and not a mention of furniture
The festive season for us starts with a huge party for Halloween and continues on until the end of January - there's Melbourne Cup and pretty much all the pre-christmas get-togethers start straight after that, Christmas itself, New Years and then summertime entertaining and three birthdays to add to the chaos. So while it's too early for the Christmas decorations, it's worth heading down to Ikea to get organised. You can do a few things to save money and to have a more enjoyable time yourself while entertaining, in other words, keeping the kids busy so the adults can party in peace!
1. Glasses and Cups.
Eleven years ago, we purchased a stack of glasses and plastic cups from Ikea for our huge family get togethers, the kids birthday parties and all other parties. While the initial outlay was roughly $85, we've never had to buy plastic or paper cups, or even hire them for 'grown up' events. We store them in the attic and they're all machine washable. There are sets of 6 plain glasses for $1.99 and wine glasses (in sets of 6) for $4.99. For us, this has worked out at approx less than $1 a party over the years.
2. Toys. The toys are cheap but not rubbish - great for charity donations, gifts for unexpected visitors or even lolly bags. This piggie is only $5.99 but prices start at $1.99!
You will, if you have kids, get toys that need batteries. There is nothing worse than not being able to get the toy working until you have time to go and get the right batteries. Ikea batteries are cheap, and recyclable, so it's a double win. It also means, the adults can have drinks in peace while the myriad of children play together on the Wii (without the remotes running flat). Grab the Ikea Family Card - a free discount card, and they're even cheaper!
4.Solar lights. Entertaining mess is easier to clean up when outside, and in Summer, it just seems nice to enjoy our great weather with friends and a drink so why not make the garden more festive and inviting? Solar lights are cheaper to run, and at Ikea, cheaper to buy than anywhere I've seen. From $14.99 for strings of lanterns or flower lights. They also have table lights and other decorative garden lights.
The kids love them and they can be cooked in the microwave in 3 minutes. If people decide to stay on after drinks, you can sort out the kids with minimal fuss, and focus on the adult dinner.
The kids can busy themselves making gingerbread houses or rolling and cutting pre-made dough (I love this one, as the only supervision required is the oven part, and they are busy for ages!). You've also covered their dessert! Ikea also have cheap gingerbread biscuits that can hang on the tree or if you wrap them in cellophane, can make an low cost alternative class gift (as those candy canes seem to take over the house).
There are of course those other bonuses, like Smaland, the one hour childminding, so you can stock up with ease without constant distraction (and the kids love it). There is the cheapest cafe around, with all sorts of meals for under $10, so you can make a full blown outing of the experience.
If you get in early enough, you'll be able to clear the credit card before heading back for the Christmas decorations and wrapping paper! Why should Christmas be all about the kids?