Aideen Sheehan says you don't have to splash out to have a day to remember
They can strike fear into the hearts of parents, but birthday parties remain a highlight of most children's year.
Despite cutbacks the birthday party circuit is still going strong for the country's kids, and parents are finding ways of cutting costs while giving their children a day to remember.
With a million children in the country under 14, there's still thousands of parties being held every single week so Smart Consumer took a look at the costs involved, and ways of giving your child a special day on a budget.
Activity centres are extremely popular for parties because kids like them and parents like not having to clean up afterwards.
They usually provide around 90 minutes of play/activities, sometimes around a theme like princesses or pirates, followed by food although you usually have to bring your own cake.
The following venues are popular, but loads more options can be found on websites such as schooldays.ie and childrensparties.ie
Leisureplex, Coolock, Blanchardstown, Tallaght, Stillorgan in Dublin. Sat-Sun €15.75/child. Mon-Fri, and before 1pm weekends €14/child.
Supernova, Cork: Activity/Princess parties Mon-Sunday €15-25/child.
Kids Playbus, Limerick: Fri-Sun €230, Mon-Thurs €200.
City Limits, Galway: Fri-Sun €16/child, Tues-Thursday €13/child.
These usually come to your home and provide an hour to 90 minutes of entertainment after which you feed the kids and hopefully send them home happy.
"There are still loads of parties happening because parents will beg, borrow or steal for their children, but you do have to go the extra mile now," he said.
Loads more examples of entertainers can be found on www.schooldays.ie or www.childrensparties.ie.
Geniemackers.com: €185 at weekends, €155 weekdays or mornings. Includes facepainting, magic and balloons.