I HAVE organised my fair share of labour-intensive, costly birthday parties; agonised over party bags and experienced the last-minute cake-making stress - but not this year.
This year, we're taking Alex up to Alton Towers for the day on his actual birthday, and then organising a family and friends picnic at Black Park, near Iver Heath.
We'll supply drinks, sandwiches and cake for the kids, and the adults can bring whatever they want to eat and drink.
I'm done with hiring halls and costly entertainers. The invites will be by email, the entertainment will be a kids vs dads football match and the party bags will be a bit of Costco cake wrapped in a napkin!
Like my colleague, Barbara Fisher, I can remember, as a child, treasuring my bit of soggy, napkin-wrapped birthday cake on the way home from a party, but I'm not sure today's kids will feel the same.
I haven't really thought about plan B if the weather is horrible though, and with a birthday in August there is a good possibility it might rain.
I've seen quite a few clever mums taking kids for a birthday outing to the weekend kids' club showings at the Odeon in Uxbridge. A far cheaper option than going to see the latest
Hollywood blockbuster. I always sneak in my own popcorn, drinks and treats when I go to the cinema, as I refuse to pay their extortionate prices - do you think they might notice me wheeling in enough for 10 kids?
I've seen those same mums taking advantage of the very reasonably priced weekend kids' showing at the Compass Theatre, in Ickenham, for a cheap birthday party outing, which could be another option.
On the slim chance it's a very hot day, Ruislip Lido or Fassnidge Park might be a better option for a picnic and football kick-about, as the kids could come with their swimming togs and have fun in the splash pad areas after their game of footy.
One of the best parties we went to was at the Science Museum.
All the parents and kids met at the museum when it opened on Sunday morning, had fun walking around together and then the kids had a picnic inside the museum, provided by the birthday boy's mum.
It was very little organising for the mum in charge, and the parents enjoyed themselves as much as the kids.
It just goes to show you really don't need to spend a fortune on kids' parties.
* IT IS time for the 19th Ickenham Festival, which starts on Friday and runs until June 19.
The village comes alive with more than 100 different activities. It's a lovely traditional festival, that has something for all ages in the community.
There's a real choice of great things for families to do, including a fun teddy bears' picnic and the final Gala Day events.
To find out more visit www.ickenhamfestival.org.uk