First of all, I believe birthday celebrations are important at every age. My concern is the over-stimulation that happens at most young children’s birthday parties. There are too many activities, too many sweets, extravagant goody bags and way too many kids. It seems that most parties are in the $500 price range. I remember one year spending $200 on a cake for my stepdaughter for her 6th birthday! What was I thinking??? Today, I long for simpler parties of pin-the-tail on the donkey and musical chairs.
I am planning the 5th birthday party for my son. If you have a child this age, you know that they are very opinionated about what they want to do for their birthday and whom they want to invite. My son wants laser tag. The reasons are many why he won’t have a laser tag party but try to explain this to an almost 5 year old. I decided to brainstorm about what he really loves these days…and one of the things he loves to do is boogie board. I got excited as we began the planning of a beach party with a boogie-boarding instructor and some water balloon games. My husband and I would cook hot dogs and hamburgers. The big fun will be no cake for dessert, but SMORES! Yum! Everything went into the trashcan when I mentioned it to my son. He did not like the idea. He decided he did not want a party and just wanted to go to dinner with the family and one to three friends. A simple family dinner sounds fun.
How do we reel in the birthday parties? What are some age appropriate ideas that are for the kids and not the parents? Here are a few guidelines to get you started:
- Time of the Day – Choose a time of the day where a meal will not be expected. The morning hour of 10am-12pm is a great time for young kids.
- Revamp the Goody Bag – It doesn’t have to be a bag of junk. How about a paperback book, a simple headband, or matchbox car?
- Guest List – Keep the guest list small. Your child probably has only a few close friends. If you feel the need to include the entire class at school, just bring in cupcakes or cookies and celebrate at school.
- Simple Décor – Many children consider the décor to be the paper plates, napkins, and balloons. Keep it simple. Remember the party is for them not for you.
- Location – Can you have the party at your home or a local park?
- Party Activities – You don’t need to hire a princess or a magician. You can play party games like a scavenger hunt, relay races or a beanbag toss. Or you can hire a local teenager to dress as a princess or paint faces.
The bottom line is that you need to keep it simple and remember that the party is for your child.
What are some fun birthday parties that you have planned for your child?