Every year, your kid is going to have a birthday. And every year, whether it’s an intimate family gathering or a massive blowout, another birthday means throwing another kid’s birthday party.
Sometimes, though – especially with parental one-ups-(wo)man-ship – we can lose sight of what’s most important: making lasting memories, and ensuring that your child feels special. If you’re thinking of throwing your little one a birthday party, you might feel daunted by everything there is to organize.
Don’t worry, though: simply check out the following tips and ideas to help you plan then perfect, fun celebration for your child. Get your notepad and pen ready to make a list, and let’s get started!
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You Don’t Need To Rob A Bank
Or max out your credit cards, or take out a second mortgage.
OK, this sounds a bit extreme, I know. BUT I’ve seen way too many kids’ parties that cost upwards of $500 or more, for kids who were still in preschool!
Yes, there are tons of places you can book for the afternoon that will do all the work for you. But the price tag can be steep, especially when you consider the social etiquette of needing to invite everyone in your child’s (25- or 30-student) class at school.
And yes, kids love these parties. But these aren’t the only type of party you can throw. So think outside the box and consider alternatives, like some of the ones below.
Keep It Simple. Seriously!
Younger kids really don’t want or need more than a time and place to run around. If your house is big enough, you can host a party there. If your kids weren’t born in the dead of winter (or winters are mild where you live), you can use your yard if you have one, or a local park if you don’t.
Or consider whether you have another local venue that’s inexpensive or free to use, like a social hall at your church/synagogue/mosque. We’ve hosted all the girls’ parties at our church; most of the kids already knew the space from attending preschool there, and they had plenty of room to run around. The cost for all of these options is minimal to free, making your kid’s birthday party more cost-effective than a huge afternoon for a big group, totaling $20 a head or more.
For tweens, a much smaller “destination” party might be appropriate. When Kimmie’s friend Davida turned 9, Vida had a couple of friends join her for an afternoon at a local pottery-painting studio. Our neighbor Becca’s daughter recently hosted a sleepover for a half-dozen friends for her birthday; the highlights of the party included decorating cupcakes, making bead bracelets, and watching a movie. A DIY spa party is another cost-effective idea for older kids that is fun, memorable, AND budget-friendly. These simple, more intimate options are perfect for older kids who want to spend time with their closest friends.
Think “Fun For All”
It’s always a treat to take home a treat or a prize (or both) from a party, whether it’s for winning a game or simply for attending, so start thinking about those little things that you can hand out. Again, this is an area that doesn’t require loads of money (unless you want it to), and you can be creative with what you give to guests.
Party bags are a lovely memento to take away from the party, and kids will be excited to open them up in the car on the way home. You can fill them will edible treats, like a slice of the birthday cake wrapped in a themed napkin, small bags of candy or raisins, or maybe a selection of what you’ve been serving throughout the day. Having a piñata is a party favorite from my childhood that my girls still love; if kids collect goodies from the piñata, you don’t need to add a lot of other goodies to call it done. (And of course, something like a spa party or pottery-painting has the take-home goodie built into the theme, so you don’t need to do anything else!)
If you’re feeling creative, you could print off your own party-related quiz, puzzles, and pictures to color; then add in a little box of pencil or wax crayons for the children to use. You can roll up any paper or cardboard additions in ribbon, or use stickers to seal them; it just depends on how far you want the color palette and theme of the party to travel. And when it comes to gifts for the birthday child, consider the best gifts for kids so they’ll receive things that are meaningful, versus just more “stuff.” Being creative wherever possible is the best way to ensure you all have a magical day.
Food for Thought
Your child’s friends will need something to eat at some point, even if it’s just the pizza-and-cupcakes that are standard for kids’ parties in our area. Therefore it’s important that there’s plenty of options for little (and big) hands to munch on. Whether you’re making everything yourself, buying food from the grocery store, or hiring in caterers (lucky little ones), you’ll need to provide a variety of options.
Try to strike a balance between sweet and savory foods, and a good mix of healthy snacks to offset the sugar rush (it is a party after all). Cupcakes, lollipops, ice cream, and cookies are all classics that all ages usually enjoy. For my kids’ parties, I usually add in grapes, apple slices, and/or baby carrots; these healthy treats are usually a hit with my kids and their friends. You could also match the food to the party’s theme, if appropriate. For Essie’s 5th birthday, she wanted a Mexican fiesta, so the foods included a lot of cheese quesadillas and chips/salsa/guacamole.
Depending on the timing and the age of your guests, you may or may not have a set “eating time” – but serving everything buffet-style often works best. That way, guests can help themselves to what they like, when they’re ready for it. For some inspiration on baking for kids’ parties, write down all your ideas and recipes. Again, be creative with your decorations on baked treats; you could get the children to help and ice their names and age on things; as long as it tastes good, the kids will love it!
What are your best hacks for throwing a kid’s birthday party that’s fun and memorable, but doesn’t break the bank? Let us know in the comments!
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