It costs about the same as hiring a hall and laying on entertainment and food for thirty children, but it's more fun (for the adults as well as the children) and less trouble. And to be honest another big attraction for me is that I don't have to find houseroom for thirty pieces of plastic tat. I'm not being snotty about the quality of birthday gifts - I've give plastic tat, too, when my kids get invited to birthday parties. It's cheap and it's what the kids like. But in a week's time the toys are all useless because they're either broken already or the components have all got separated, and I lose patience and throw them in the bin when the kids aren't looking.
Anyway yesterday we went to see the movie Hoodwinked (the kids liked it, I didn't), the Wacky Warehouse and Pizza Hut. Sam invited his longstanding best friend, Grace, and her best friend, Caithlin. And he got a drawing set and a set of dominoes which is great.