You’d be surprised how long a hall filled with balloons will keep children amused. Boys will kick them around, use them as weapons, or burst them, while girls tend to throw them up and try to keep them in the air.

Think of them as a cheap way of entertaining them as they arrive until the party gets going and go for quantity rather than quality. 100 for 99p types. Otherwise you’ll be stressing as little Jonny pops his tenth ‘Happy Birthday Lucy’ balloon. You can always keep the quality ones for (out-of-reach) decorations and/or giving out along with the party bags.

Later, if your entertainer doesn’t do balloon animals, think of having a friend or relative make them. You can buy packs from such as Asda that include instructions. A balloon sword or flower is well within the abilities of anyone and goes down a treat. A poodle/giraffe is only marginally harder, and children are remarkably uncritical of conformation! They care more about the colour!

Do however buy a few additional packs to practice with beforehand, as it does take a little while to judge just how much of the balloon needs to be left unblown for each design! The other thing to consider if you’re having a party away from home is the balance between blowing them at the venue, where the downside is the time they take to do if you’re not an expert, versus the problems of transporting them if blown up beforehand!

Helium balloons look nice on the tables, but shop-bought ones can be expensive, and who gets them at the end? Of course these days you can get your helium kit from Asda et al for about £20, which might bring them within price range if needed.