12 More Party Ideas for 6-12 year olds

Following on from our birthday party post (here), we thought you might like to see some other party ideas for slightly older children (approx. 6-12 years). We are in the North East, so I’ve added some local links that we’ve used in the past, but you can also use this post for inspiration then Google your local services.

Paintballing or Lazer Quest – My eldest had his 9th birthday party at a Lazer shooting and Paintball centre called Battlezone Paintball. It is all outdoors and set up as several camps, with a wrecked helicopter, tanks, ship etc. Most places don’t allow paintball for under 12’s so watch out for this. A friend had his party at a place which allows younger children as it uses softer, sponge-based balls (Battle Stations), so we went for something a little different.

Laser Tag
Shooting the photographer!

Zookeeper for a day – most zoos offer this type of experience. Prices vary enormously, the ones we looked at were Flamingo Land Zoo and Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens.

Be a zookeeper for the day
Zookeeper for the day party – Image Flamingo Land Zoo

Science Party – lots of smoke and bangs from experiments! A local company called Cool Science Party runs this amazing event, it is currently an option for my eldest son’s next birthday.

Cool Science party
Cool Science Party with smoke & potions! – Image CoolScienceParty.co.uk

Magician/ close-up magic party- so many options here, including those who give away some of their secrets to the older children, which they love! Some will also offer the full entertainment package with a bubble machine, disco or party games. They are too numerous to list!

Circus Skills – Depending on budget, you can have everything from a full circus performance with tuition, to a single person teaching a few fun skills. You could try Circus Malabaristas, or we are about to have Marko’s Circus at our PTA Summer Fair

Circus skills
Marko’s circus skills – image markoscircusworkshop.webs.com

Horse riding/Pony party – Your place or theirs, plenty of local stables or horse riding schools could help you here. Or try Mini Pony Hire

Mini Pony Party
Mini Pony Hire for your party – image miniponyhire.com

Pamper party – Have you seen the Airstream van which comes to your house – epic! Try My Little Beauty.

Airstream pamper parties
Airstream mobile beauty salon for pamper parties – image mylittlebeauty.co.uk

Pizza Making Party – try Pizza Express for a great experience being a pizza chef then eating your own creation!

Pizza Making Party
Pizza Making Party at Pizza Express – image pizzaexpress.com

Pop stars – record your group singing on CD. If you’re lucky you might even find a special deal on Groupon.

Pop Party
Pop party with Groupon discount – image groupon.co.uk

Climbing wall or trampoline party (eg at Go Climb – see our separate post Here, Clip n Climb etc).

Adventure and Daring at Go Climb

Game Wagon – a company which comes to your house with a big van full of Xbox/Playstation type games.

Game Wagon gaming party
Game Wagon team ready to party – image gamewagon.co.uk

Inflatables – There are some great variations on the conventional bouncy castle if you have space – we had a ‘Disco Dome’ from Zunzo Inflatables last year, and there are also obstacle course style bouncy castles.

Other bouncy castle style activities include the inflatable joust, sumo, surfboard etc. Take a look at Fun 4 Hire for more ideas.

Party inflatables assault course
Alternative Inflatables for a party – image fun4hire.net

I hope this has inspired you. Let me know if you try any of these party ideas.

You can always Pin them for later with this:

Stuck for ideas for kids' birthday parties? Here are 12 great ideas with links for 6-12 year olds' boys and girls party ideas with a difference!
Pin these party ideas for later!

Disclosure: We have not been sponsored to write this post. All opinions are our own. Images are meant as guidance only, you are encouraged to make your own enquiries with the companies mentioned.

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You Baby Me MummyRhyming with Wine

Animal Magic- Alternative Party Idea

An animal party? In my day, a birthday party happened in your house. You played pass the parcel and musical statues, then you ate sandwiches, sausage rolls, and cheese and pineapple on sticks. You took home a piece of cake and a balloon if you were lucky. I know I’m sounding old, but things have changed a little, haven’t they?

How much they have changed depends on the individual. I still like parties where musical statues and pass the parcel are played, but as with most things these days, we are our kids are expecting more.

A couple of years ago I was at a birthday party where I met an old friend. I was bemoaning the noise and general hyperactivity going on, but she mentioned something which resonated with me. She said that all too soon, the children won’t want parties anymore, they’ll just be saying “Drop me at the cinema and give me £20 Mum”. My kids have been dining out on this ever since, as I remind myself that all too soon they’ll be too old and too cool for parties. That time is fast approaching!

Now that my children are junior school age, (or KS2 as we call it these days) they are getting harder to please. My youngest just turned 8, and being an animal lover, decided he wanted a ‘ZooParty’ (!).

We started by considering Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens. They are the closest zoo to us, and do great parties including a private zoo tour and animal petting, and zookeeper experiences. Unfortunately, it’s located about an hour away from us, and the general consensus was that it’s too far for people to go for a party, which is a real shame.

Eventually, we settled on a mobile petting zoo. I was a little concerned about having so many animals running around my living room and pooping on my sofa, so we hired a local place called Summerhill Visitor Centre. Summerhill is a great country park with fabulous open spaces and play areas, and the visitor centre is very welcoming. Better still, it was only £30 for the whole afternoon!

Cutting the birthday cake
Say ‘cheese’ if you’ve got a chocolate face!

I chose to cater for the children using lunch boxes. I’ve done this before, and find there’s much less waste, and it’s so easy to just turn up and set the food out in individual places. We were lucky to have been given some party tableware and party bags for 8 from ‘Party Bags and Supplies‘. Toby chose dinosaurs in the Jurassic Worlds theme – it looks pretty cool, and Toby explained that animals descended from dinosaurs anyway! Most animal partyware is a bit babyish, so I can see why he went for this much more grown-up and very ‘current’ theme.

Jurassic Worlds Party Bag
Dinosaur Jurassic Worlds Party Bag from Party Bags and Supplies

We bought some extra plates, party boxes, and extra gifts and sweets to fill out the party bags, as we had 23 guests expected. The party bags we were sent came pre-filled with 3 items. We were also sent a pack of 8 cool dino masks, but sadly I didn’t have time to buy more for the other 15 kids, so we just played with them after the party.

Dinosaur Partyware
Jurassic Worlds co-ordinating tableware from Party Bags and Supplies

Once we spread the really cool looking table cloth in the middle of the table, the whole party seemed to come to life. It’s lovely to have matching party items to set the scene. Party bags and supplies have so many different themes to choose from, and lots of complementing accessories to completely set the party room up.  If we had a smaller place, I would probably have gone for co-ordinating bunting or scene setters, but our room was huge, and the children couldn’t wait to run off outside as soon as possible anyway(!), so I just stuck a camouflage net over the doors! I thought we might use it as a photo backdrop, but no such chance, the kids were all over!

Animal party food
Animal party or chimp’s tea party?!

Our animal lady brought a selection of small furries (and not so furries!). The children loved them all, but were very loud and excited. I was really worried for the poor animals, but apparently they are used to it! Once the excitement died down, the more excitable guests disappeared outside to play under the close supervision of Toby’s Dad. The remaining children who were true animal lovers enjoyed much more handling time and really enjoyed themselves too.

Toby really enjoyed his party, and it is hopefully something different which he will remember for a long time. With grateful thanks to PartyBags and supplies for kindly sending us some of their lovely Jurassic Worlds partyware.

Pin this idea for later:

Stuck for birthday party ideas? Here's an alternative party which is inexpensive, fun and educational - an animal party! See all the details here.
Pin this animal party idea for later

See our other post for some alternative options we considered or have experienced, which are ideal for this age of children (with useful links)

Pink Pear BearMy Random Musings
A Mum Track Mind

Saturday Siblings – Birthday Time!

I’m refocussing.

There, I said it. I’m less than 3 months in, but already I’ve found myself pulled towards ‘parent blogging’ rather than the making and fixing we were meant to be doing.

So, I need to get back to the plan – making stuff and making memories. That’s what Family Makes is meant to be about.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to concentrate my parenting stuff into a couple of fab ‘linkies’, which also encourage the ‘Making Memories’ part of our blog.

Maybe this is also an excuse, but I didn’t do one of those ‘today is my baby’s birthday’ type posts. Bad mamma. But I was busy concentrating on actually being a mamma, having a party and all the other stuff.

So instead, here are my Saturday siblings photos, which also happen to be birthday photos. It’s nice that they can show a rare moment of kindness together on a special occasion! Happy birthday to my beautiful, quirky, big-eyed boy. I’m trying not to be all sentimental about him growing up, as he’ll always be my baby, but I’m actually enjoying the big boy he’s growing up to be too xxx

Brothers love their matching tshirts
Easily pleased – my little tiger fans love their matching t-shirts!
Cake for the brothers with heart
The brothers enjoying a bit of birthday cake together

Make It Your Own
Linking up with

Saturday Siblings

Review of Fisher & Paykel Fridge Freezer

We were lucky enough to be sent a fridge freezer to review from AO.Com. The Fridge freezer we received was a Fisher & Paykel Designer Activesmart Frost-free Fridge Freezer with Ice Maker and Water Dispenser.

AO.com arranged delivery of this fridge freezer for us, and also offered, if necessary, to take away our old model and recycle it. We didn’t take this option as our fridge was still working OK, but we really wanted a freezer in the house as well. We had a chest freezer in our garage. This was so inconvenient as in all weathers and at all times of the day or night that we wanted something from the freezer we had to trek through the garden to the garage. First world problems, I know. Anyway, I digress slightly…

AO.com had also kindly arranged for the delivery drivers to attach the new fridge freezer to a water supply, as it had to be connected this way for the water dispenser and ice maker to work. (It doesn’t dispense ice but makes it automatically and puts it in a freezer compartment).

Of course, nothing is ever straightforward, is it? This fridge freezer is not quite an American-style, double width model, and in that way is ideal for anyone wanting a large model but with not enough room for an American fridge freezer. It is, however, a very big piece of kit. I had already carefully measured the space it had to go in, and we had decided we could stack our washing machine and tumble dryer to make enough room to accommodate it. What we hadn’t accounted for, unfortunately, was the width of the doors. The doors to our house, that is!

Apparently this happens all the time, according to the delivery driver. It was only the width of the fridge door handle which was the sticking point, but due to all the clever internal workings, this isn’t the kind of fridge door which can be removed to make it open from the other side for example, so we were stuck! Eventually, it was decided to deliver it through the French Doors into our dining room, and there it sat, unable to budge any further!

Fridge freezer in dining room
Fridge freezer stuck in the dining room

We now faced the dilemma of whether to leave it to live in our dining room (it’s a kitchen-diner so not too mad an idea!), or have the back door taken off to get it where it was meant to go. As we had already done a fair bit of worktop demolition etc, we plumped for the latter. As luck would have it, there were a couple of guys working down the road from a double glazing company, so they came and did the honours for us.

The other slightly unfortunate thing about the fridge freezer is that its castors only go forwards and backwards, so manoeuvring it into a space is tricky. So tricky that our vinyl flooring has suffered a terrible ripped fate. Another disaster!

Vinyl floor torn by fridge freezer
Vinyl flooring torn by fridge freezer

 

vinyl torn by fridge freezer
Vinyl flooring torn by fridge freezer

The third part of the struggle (for these things always come in threes), was that we now had to get a plumber to come and fit the water supply. The fridge freezer doesn’t have the option of a manual fill from a door container, which is good in a way as it gives much more door storage, but it does mean you have to fit a water supply in order for it to work. It also has a water filter attached, which needs to be changed approx. every 6 months.

So, three small inconveniences, but now it is in place, we do really love it! The fridge capacity, in particular, is fantastic – perfect for a family. The advertising says you can fit up to 11 bags of shopping in there, and I’d say that’s pretty accurate.  The freezer is not as big, it being a 70/30 split. You also give up quite some space in the freezer for the ice making container, but you don’t have to use this facility if you don’t want to.

Fridge full of food
Large capacity fridge compartment and door shelves

In all, I’d say I’m delighted with this appliance. It is quiet, efficient and good looking. The internal space is great, and the drawers are smooth and easy to open. It has such clever features like individual humidity control for fruit and veg drawers. The exterior is beautiful, and would fit equally well in a sleek modern fitted kitchen, or a battered family utility room like ours. The size is also ideal for us, and it doesn’t take up as much space as a double door, American-style fridge freezer.

Here is the ‘technical spec’ for the Fisher and Paykel Fridge freezer:

Energy Rating A+

Freezer Star Rating 4*

Dimensions (H)171.5 x (W)79.0 x (D)69.5

Overall Capacity 351 / 118 Litres

Annual Energy Cost Based On 15.40p/Unit £58.67

Annual Energy Consumption 381 Kwh

Disclosure: We were sent this product to review from AO.com. We were not paid for this review, nor were we requested to publish it on our blog.  You can find our video review on YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ryus64pyRwU

Family Fever

Look Inside – What’s in a Hudl Tablet

I gave the boys permission to break open Toby’s old Hudl Android tablet which no longer worked, to see what it looked like inside.

They have had lots of fun deconstructing this tablet computer and trying to work out what all the parts are, or just seeing what they look like. I had a minor heart attack and had to pause the recording so many times to tell them to be careful! Note to self (and other nervous parents!) – let them learn, let them explore…

(but tell them to be careful!!) 

“As we watched “What’s Inside” [Lincoln and Dan on YouTube], we got an idea of a video to create for you. You guessed it , a look inside video! A big thanks to Lincoln and Dan for creating videos about what’s inside, and giving us the inspiration for this idea.” By Toby.

“Leave a comment about what you would like us to look inside next, and we will consider it. If you comment we may be able to go down to the dump and ask for the object to cut open. We will also be going to our French house (Chataigne House), where we have a broken printer and Xbox 360 which we will cut open for the blog & for YouTube.

We liked cutting open the Hudl because of all the cool electric parts in it, also because it is just really good fun.” By Hugo

Proud to be linking up with:

Petite PuddingMummuddlingthroughPink Pear BearDiary of an imperfect mumThe PramshedCuddle Fairy

What I Love Most About My Family

A little while ago we entered a competition where you had to make a short video saying or showing what you love most about your family.

I actually found this surprisingly hard, I mean, how do you express those kinds of feelings? I love everything about them. They are my world, my life, my raison d’être. How do I choose what I love most?

I asked the question of my kids. They also found it quite difficult. My youngest especially, who can be quite expressive, was suddenly quite lost for words. I think we probably caught him in a bad mood – he’s very “all or nothing”.

However, we kept it light and found the words. We made the video, and suddenly the kids thought it was fun and absolutely fabulous. We didn’t win the competition (probably not original enough), but my eldest has nagged me ever since to share the video, as he was so proud of it.

So here it is – some of the things, at least, that we love most about our family (Daddy didn’t feature as he was busy, but we know he loves us all too!)


Diary of an imperfect mumthemumproject
A Mum Track MindLittle Hearts, Big LoveCuddle Fairy
 Best of Worst

Seaside Sing Along: Oh I Do Like To Be……..

……sing along now “Beside the sea siiiiiiiiide……”

Oh, I do like to be beside the sea. In fact, we live beside the sea. Well, a few streets away from the sea, anyway. But, like anyone who has something wonderful on their doorstep, I have to admit that we don’t really make the most of it.

Beach and blue sea with wind turbines
Beautiful beach with my beautiful boy

I know, I’m sorry. Deeply ashamed, and apologetic.

In my defence, I’m not always well enough to manage a walk on the beach. Even this week, I drove there and met Daddy and the boys (and dog) on the sea front. I’m so glad I did, though, it’s the best Bank Holiday Monday I’ve had for a while.

Sun reflecting on the water in the rockpools
Sun reflecting on the water in the rockpools

Simple, beautiful pleasures. The dog (our little Daphne Doodle) went absolutely crazy, running between the boys and jumping in the water. She’s still very young and doesn’t have brilliant recall, being so excitable and easily distracted, so she doesn’t get off the lead much.

Dog running between boys on the beach
Daphne Doodle running wildly between the boys
Our normally fluffy Daphne turned into a drowned rat!
Our normally fluffy Daphne turned into a drowned rat!

The boys don’t get ‘off the lead’ much either really – they spend lots of time outdoors doing structured, sporting activities, but just being allowed to get wet and dirty is a rarity.

Toby finds a prized stone in the rock pools!
Toby finds a prized stone in the rock pools!

Daddy was a little concerned about just how wet and dirty they were getting, but I was chilled, and I do the washing! Yes, Toby was wearing his (awful) school coat, but hey, if it isn’t dry by the morning, he can wear his ski jacket to school. Let them play.

Toby showing the treasure he found whilst digging in the sand
Toby showing the treasure he found whilst digging in the sand

The boys waded in the rock pools. They threw stones and wet sand. They picked up shells and looked for creatures. They dug holes with their bare hands. The holes and piles of sand turned into castles and pyramids and an entire Egyptian temple (they are learning about Egypt at school – it’s obviously influencing their design choices!).

Sand castles and holes turned into entire Egyptian villages
Sand castles and holes turned into entire Egyptian villages
The boys struggled on with their digging despite the cold wind
The boys struggled on with their digging despite the cold wind

The boys used creative language to describe what they saw, and felt, and made, and I revelled in the whole experience. It was natural, educational, and so enjoyable. It reminded me of the joy they found in being at the beach when they were younger, and it reminded me how young they still are, and how much joy they can still find in these experiences (without an Xbox remote in their hands).

More stones in the rock pools
More stones in the rock pools

We watched the weather closely, and as it got increasingly dark and windy, we knew it was time to head back. On the way back to the car, I was lucky to find a starfish by the rocks. We were so excited!

Starfish on sand
Poor starfish was out of the water

It was out of the water, so we decided to gently lift it and put it in a rock pool. How beautiful it looked! We were treated to seeing its little tube feet ‘suckers’ on its underside moving it along to a shallow point, then curling up almost to give us a wave of thanks, before moving back along into the deeper water again. What a fabulous end to our trip!

Starfish giving us a wave of thanks
Starfish giving us a wave of thanks

When we got home, and after a hot bath for the cold, wet, sandy children, we were discussing our lovely afternoon. “See what happens when you let boys be boys!”, Toby told me in a lecturing tone.

Yes my darling, I’m continuing to learn.

Hugo got a rainbow face, and look at the other approving face, smiling down from the clouds!
Hugo got a rainbow face, and an approving face smiling down from the clouds

We have some great beaches along the North East coast. Come and enjoy them!

Glad to be linking up with

Diary of an imperfect mumCountry Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays CornwallCuddle Fairy
     LoveNorthEastMy Random MusingsLittle Hearts, Big Love

How to Renovate a Run Down Pool Area

When we bought Chataigne, the whole place had been empty for about two years. It was early Spring, and we hoped that we could get the place ready for letting that summer.

The swimming pool had to be the crowning glory of the place. It is what attracts guests, and what sets the place apart from others. I knew it needed to be special, so I made it something of a priority.

Of course, we live in a normal house in the North of England, and before that we were in Scotland – swimming pools were not our area of expertise, so we knew we’d need some help and advice.

Chataigne House Pool Garden/Picnic area before renovation
Chataigne House Pool Garden/Picnic area before renovation
Debris in the pool and picnic area when we viewed it
Debris in the pool and picnic area when we viewed it

The surrounding area of the pool used to have decking, as the marketing photos testified. However, all that remained were piles of rotting wood by the side of the pool where the old decking had obviously been torn up, and a whole area of broken tiles and plant pots which looked like it might have been the start of hardcore for a patio. It was like a weedy, overgrown rubbish tip. Therefore, we had to start again with a paved patio area and a grassed area with picnic tables.

Chataigne House Pool Area – Before

We employed help here with the earth removal, levelling, and landscaping. We are really pleased with the results, and the work on the landscaping here continues, with some tree surgery, fencing, planting, and improving the pool verandah.

033
Earth moving equipment
Land cleared and levelled, ready for landscaping
Land cleared and levelled, ready for landscaping
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Patio being laid, pool starting to improve too

The pool itself also needed work. I employed a pool expert and tried to learn as much as possible from him regarding chemicals and pool maintenance. It is important to keep the chemical balance right for safety as well as visual appeal, and pool maintenance, as we had been warned by other swimming pool owners, is a demanding and ongoing chore. I’ve written a separate post about the pool improvement and ongoing maintenance as it is a complex area.

Pool area with patio laid, picnic area laid, and grass seed down
Pool area with patio laid, picnic area laid, and grass seed down

The old paving slabs have now been cleaned too, to help them blend in with the new ones. We used a chemical cleaner (a bleach solution agitated in with a brush), then jet washed it off (away from the direction of the pool!)

Swimming pool area ready for visitors
Swimming pool area ready for visitors
Swimming pool illuminated beautifully for a spot of night swimming
Swimming pool illuminated beautifully for a spot of night swimming

The verandah has tables and chairs, bar stools and a beer fridge, plus an illuminated beer sign I picked up at a local brocante – my pride and joy!

I know, you want to dive right in! Me too. Here’s the link to our gites in France http://www.gitesenfrance.co.uk

Proud to be linking up with:

My Random MusingsPink Pear BearMonkey and MouseRun Jump Scrap!themumproject
Lou Messugo