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Birthday Party Plan B

I am not a fan of kid birthday parties: going or throwing.  I think that kids need them insofar as they allow that kid to bask in being the center of attention for a few hours once a year.  Most people benefit emotionally from being the birthday girl or boy and feeling celebrated.  But birthday parties bring stress, pure and simple, and I’m never sure if I really believe that the benefits outweigh the stress or if I just go along with the status quo instead of breaking free of the birthday party ball and chain.

birthday_cake

Image: Will Clayton via Flickr

There are the ones your kid is not invited to, and the ones that your kid is invited to but their friends are not, and now the friends are jealous.  There are the ones where the activity doesn’t really match your kid. (Uh… is this one unique to us?  There are a bunch of activities that really stress them out.)  There are the ones where you don’t really approve of the activity, and you have to navigate your morals and kid friendships.  There are the ones your kid goes to and has a miserable time, and the ones your kid goes to and has an amazing time but you suspect this is more due to the activity than their closeness to the birthday child.  You need to buy gifts for people you sometimes barely know and take a guess on their interests. And how much do you spend on said gift?

And then throwing them.  I start worrying about this in winter.  Their birthday is in summer.

We don’t really have space in our house to have a party.  Unless it’s a veeeeeeeery small party.  One of the drawbacks of being a non-television-loving  family is that we don’t really have a space set up to watch a movie.  We don’t have a big backyard.  Or really much of any backyard.  After once planning an outdoor birthday party and being stressed out for weeks about weather, we’ve said never again to an outdoor party.  We don’t want to spend a lot of money on the party; I think parties have gotten a bit out of control with the cost and the expectations of activity.  And I would like the effort expended on my end to be on the low-side right now due to other life stressors.

It’s a pretty steep set of requirements.

I’ve come up with a Plan B that fits most of my requirements: out of the house, indoors, somewhat affordable, BUT… it will take hours upon hours of my time to prepare the activity, run the activity, and clean-up from the activity.  We’re talking hours.  And hours.

So, I’m turning it over to you for ideas.  No, you don’t need to have a kid to have an opinion on this.  All of you were a kid, so you are all capable of weighing in.  Tell me about great birthday parties from your past or ones you’ve thrown or ones you’ve attended.  I’m really wracking my brain to come up with something brilliant that fits the parameters.

Parameters:

  • Needs to be outside the house.
  • Needs to be good for about 16 – 20 9-year-olds that will be a mix of boys and girls.
  • Needs to be semi-inexpensive.
  • Needs to be a reasonable amount of work instead of a Herculean amount of work.

Extra points for creativity.

My Plan B is decent*.  It won’t be too expensive.  It’s creative.  It’s memorable.  It’s just the amount of work involved that is keeping me from making it my Plan A.  Please give me a better plan.  Pretty please?

Actually, let’s crowd source a multitude of party ideas.  In fact, why doesn’t everyone throw every age into the pot — from birth to death — and list best party ideas you’ve ever executed or experienced, and everyone can grab what they need.

* Yes, I will tell you my semi-okay Plan B idea in a few weeks once I surprise the twins with it… or not.

41 comments

1 Mali { 03.12.14 at 7:42 am }

Other than having my grandmother over every birthday for afternoon tea with a birthday cake, I only ever had one birthday party. Till I turned 20 and I threw my own. Cooked my own dinner part for my 40th. Clearly I am not a party expert. And I am very glad I don’t have to do the seemingly compulsory birthday parties of today. (I’m so old!). I can’t wait to see what suggestions you get, as my sister is suffering under the birthday party peer pressure system, and I want to help her too.

2 Valery Valentina { 03.12.14 at 7:54 am }

My little brother hated his own birthday party (despite being a popular kid in school) so he would just invite his one best friend and go see a movie in a theater. I don’t think my parents approved of popcorn. He might have gotten a fizzy drink instead (which we normally were not allowed to have)
Maybe this is not helpful, but I just wanted to share that certainly not every 9 year old has a party with almost a full class of kids. (And can still make friends for life)

3 Davidah { 03.12.14 at 7:57 am }

Bowling at a University student center during off-peak hours. Easy, relatively affordable (although of course this is location-dependent so I can’t promise for you), can accommodate a large number of kids, kids have fun. At their age, they are probably still willing to use the bumpers (no gutter balls), so everyone succeeds.

I’m anti-birthday party because my sweet girl is almost never invited. She’s turning 10 and has probably been to about 5 birthday parties in her life, other than her own.

4 Davidah { 03.12.14 at 7:57 am }

Bowling at a University student center during off-peak hours. Easy, relatively affordable (although of course this is location-dependent so I can’t promise for you), can accommodate a large number of kids, kids have fun. At their age, they are probably still willing to use the bumpers (no gutter balls), so everyone succeeds.

I’m anti-birthday party because my sweet girl is almost never invited. She’s turning 10 and has probably been to about 5 birthday parties in her life, other than her own.

5 Jodi { 03.12.14 at 8:08 am }

What about renting a pavilion at a park? It is reasonable, you do it throughout the county, get a cake, and let the kids play.

Michael is doing a sleepover this year. 4 kids, pizza, movie, no sleep. Done.

6 Ellen { 03.12.14 at 8:12 am }

Hire some one else (college student? local party planner? super organized mom friend who could use an extra hundred bucks) to execute Plan B for you. Good luck!

7 HereWeGoAJen { 03.12.14 at 8:20 am }

Movie theater? Ours has a birthday party package and I went to one when I was older. I had a swimming party around age nine too. And not a birthday party, but I was about nine or ten when I threw a “grown up” party at a restaurant. I don’t remember what we did for food (like if my mom ordered a bunch of stuff for the table or if she just let us order what we wanted) but I remember we took a board game and played it and talked and ate and all felt so very grown up.

8 Pepper { 03.12.14 at 8:37 am }

Are they still into Harry Potter? I share your feelings almost to the letter regarding but we did go to a fun, low-stress HP party last summer. You could host it either at a park under a pavilion in case of rain or use a room at a local rec center, etc. They did a Potions class where they did the diet coke with mentos trick and added food coloring to make it even more interesting. They did a quick “sorting” at the beginning and later did an egg hunt or something similar in their houses to choose a winner. And then it was food, cake, go home.

Good luck. My daughter turns 3 next month and even though we do have the space to host our family, I am already nervous about it. Ugh.

9 MLW { 03.12.14 at 8:54 am }

As a school teacher, I applaud you and totally agree that bday parties have gotten to be too much! As a child, my mother made me invite all of the girls in the class so as not to hurt feelings, but EVERY one of myparties was at home. No clowns, juggles, face painting, dressed up characters, bouncy castles or ponies, just fun and games. Kids can usually entertain themselves more than adults give them credit for. One fun thing that my organized every year was a scavenger hunt- SO MUCH FUN! Granted we lived in a safe area where we knew all the neighbors, but this can be done as well if you pre-arrange with a select few neighbors. Parties: less=more. Kids should have fun, that can happen without ordering a 12-ft themed designer cake or remortgaging your house…

10 Catwoman73 { 03.12.14 at 8:58 am }

I totally hear you on birthday party stress. Last year, I spent my entire vacation making decorations, planning the menu (all home-cooked food), and baking and decorating a theme cake for my daughter’s mermaid party. NEVER again.

I am still uncertain what we’ll do this year. I know it won’t be at the house again, though. I don’t want all the fuss, or the clean up, again. But I’m a bit afraid of outdoor parties, since it could rain. So I’m at a a loss, too. So far this school year, the wee woman has been to three birthday parties, and they have been at an indoor inflatable park (loved that- she was exhausted after two hours of bouncing!), an indoor jungle gym (also awesome), and the local movie theatre (great, but expensive). I know that our local SPCA has children’s parties, and I’m considering that. Kids love animals. We also have a small zoo in town that I’m going to get some prices for.

11 Andi { 03.12.14 at 9:18 am }

I’ve done the parties at other places… last year (i have 2 boys), we did a spiderman party… and then my oldest wanted a military party… so we had all of the kids come in and “enlist” we ran drills with them, played games, but gave them out as orders… it was really a lot of fun. This year I told my boys they could have a party or we could go on a weekend trip… both picked weekend trips… so we are going to go stay overnight somewhere each time. Problem solved!

12 meghan { 03.12.14 at 9:25 am }

Do they have their heart set on a party? My cousin has brilliant started ‘making memories’ with her 9 year old for her birthday. She can invite 1-2 special friends and they do something a little bigger than they could do if it were 20 kids. I know it doesn’t fit your parameters but just another idea

13 nicoleandmaggie { 03.12.14 at 9:30 am }

We’re only age 7 here. Age 3 was the first real party, and that was held at preschool during preschool hours– we made zucchini muffins with the kids. Since then we’ve had 3 at the local museum (they do a program) and one year we skipped the party and he went to San Diego with his grandma instead.

He’s starting to outgrow the museum, so we’re thinking of looking into the other things available in the area– horseback riding is one of them, there’s a video game place for another option. For summer birthdays there’s pool parties, though you have to be sure everyone can swim. Our HOA also has a building that can be rented out for events. A matinee probably isn’t too expensive around here, with pizza afterward.

14 nicoleandmaggie { 03.12.14 at 9:31 am }

@Andi– We saw a bunch of ~9-10 year old boys in camo at the park for a related birthday theme. They also had archery and went on a wilderness hike.

15 Sara { 03.12.14 at 10:12 am }

I find kid parties horribly stressful also. Eggbert is 6 and we’ve only had one real party for her so far (and have already told her that next year it’s 3 friends and pizza only!)

This won’t work for 9-year-olds, but one of the best birthday parties for little kids that we’ve ever been to was held at a fire station. Our local fire station will host kid parties for free (with the condition that if they are called to a fire, all bets are off), and the 3-6 year old crowd LOVES this. The activity is climbing around on the fire trucks, learning about fire safety, and just hanging out with a pretty amazing group of heroes. I’m not sure if this is possible in every community, but it’s worth a phone call to check! (We then had the cake etc. in a nearby park–works great for summer, but for winter there would need to be another plan for that part of the party.)

16 Jo { 03.12.14 at 10:13 am }

The zoo? My sister had a zoo party for my nieces 4th. It was freezing outside, but they gave us an indoor room, provided a choice of animals to “meet” and of course included admission to the zoo for x amount if guests. We had cake and punch and presents in the room and my niece adored the animals, just like she does on every visit. I think it was well worth the couple-hundred dollars my sister spent.

17 a { 03.12.14 at 10:21 am }

Kids at our school don’t really seem to do birthday parties. We invited all the girls in my daughter’s kindergarten class and 3 showed up (out of 12). Shortly thereafter, another girl sent out invitations (sort of last minute, but still…) and I think no one responded, so the party got cancelled. Anyway…

Bowling is a rather inexpensive option (comparatively speaking), and lots of fun for the kids. Also, park pavilions are good – one party we went to had a craft, cake, and the playground. The preschool also did something similar for the end-of-year party, and the kids loved it. Our YMCA has reasonably priced party options – skating parties, gymnastic parties, swimming parties, and rock-climbing parties. One of my friends got a Groupon for a bounce house that they put in their yard – that was a good time too.

I hate the thought of parties because, while I know my daughter has a lot of friends at school, I don’t know if any of them can be relied upon to come to a birthday party. And I would hate for her to be disappointed if no one showed up. 🙁

18 andy { 03.12.14 at 10:50 am }

I too refuse to plan or have parties at home anymore. I am willing to pay a bit more to have it at a location that offers an activity, a room and preferably a 20 year old who organizes the whole thing. My favorties are swimming party, glow in the dark mini-golf and laser tag (though that comes with the moral issue of guns)

Good luck!

19 mrs spock { 03.12.14 at 10:51 am }

We have a rule that our kids can only invite up to 3 friends. We have a large family, and they alone can fill our house. Last year, for our son’s birthday, we had homemade cupcakes, carry-out wings, chips, and we did science experiments. We put Mentos in Diet Coke and mixed vinegar and baking soda. We also went on a bug hunt, and everyone got their own goggles and cheap magnifying glasses. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. This year I bought Super Soakers and a water balloon pump for his gifts, and if it is warm enough, we will have a water fight.

20 Justine { 03.12.14 at 11:13 am }

We rented an outdoor pavilion at the park once, and it rained, which made the party sort of a bummer. I’ve heard of water play parties, but that’s outside, too. Movie parties can be cool, but also tend to get expensive with the price of movie tickets. How about a service party? I haven’t done one, but I think my son would actually enjoy bringing some of his friends to a food pantry to stock shelves, or to an animal shelter to run errands or clean, etc. …

One year I took my son and his friends apple picking. That was pretty fun, included a hayride (free!) and they picked as many apples as they wanted, while we learned about apple varieties. I could imagine other kinds of picking parties, too (strawberries, vegetables, etc.).

But maybe that’s not a cool enough party. Maybe that’s what I want for MY birthday … 😉

21 loribeth { 03.12.14 at 11:39 am }

Birthday parties were so much simpler when I was a kid. I got to invite friends over after school (usually up to about a dozen), we’d put up some balloons & crepe paper streamers, play a few simple games and then we’d have hot dogs or sloppy joes, potato chips, pickles (I hated pickles — still do, but they were a birthday party menu staple) & kool-aid. (No pizza places or fast-food restaurants in those days, at least where I was living.) My mother would bake an angel food confetti cake, decorated with Smarties (M&Ms) & served with ice cream. Open presents & then my dad would drive home the kids who lived too far to walk. Everyone would get a chocolate bar before they left.

For my 6th birthday, we went to see “The Reluctant Astronaut” with Don Knotts at the Saturday matinee & then back to the house for refreshments & presents. Being a January girl, no outdoor parties for me. :p I always wanted to have a skating party, but the public skating session at the local rink would inevitably be cancelled in favour of hockey. :p Or there would be a blizzard and nobody could come. :p Although one of my friends in grade school also had a January birthday — for her 8th birthday, her dad took us for rides on a sleigh pulled by a snowmobile. We went back to her house & watched cartoons IN COLOUR — she was the first girl in our class to have a colour TV. Those were the days…! That was one of the more memorable birthday parties I attended as a kid. Most of my friends’ parties followed a similar template. My sister was born in September and the weather was nice enough one time we had a hotdog roast at the nearby beach. Once we got to be about 12-13, we gave up big parties & would just have a few close friends over for dinner & cake.

Today’s far more elaborate birthday parties (complete with loot bags) are one reason I am glad I don’t have kids. :p Our nephews have, thankfully, usually had pretty simple parties mostly family & a few friends, but I have been to a few more elaborate parties over the years for dh’s cousins’ kids, though — particularly for the first birthday (after that, we tend to get dropped from the guest list, although the other cousins’ kids continue to get invited). The biggest, about 12 years ago, had about 100 guests (adults & kids). The family lived on a half acre lot, so there was plenty of room to run around, and they rented a bouncy castle. I’ve been to other parties at one of those indoor playgrounds, which are great because the kids can run around & burn off energy. The parents bring in pizza with some fruit & veggie trays for eats (and the cake, of course).

I’ve been to a couple of parties held at a bowling alley, as suggested above. One at a putt-putt (mini-golf) course. Most places like that, and movie theatres, swimming pools, etc., have party packages, and I think the kids enjoy them.

22 Brid { 03.12.14 at 12:10 pm }

We usually do a crafty thing and leave them to their devices. We invite the whole class, plus his ski buddies, and family friends…. The parties are usually pretty big, but I will always do it at home so I can have a glass of wine! My concern this year is that, at 10, they won’t be so interested in a craft table…we’ve done New Orleans’ style masks, cookies/cupcake decorating, bracelets/beads/necklaces, monster masks, etc… and, being April 1st, we’re never sure to have the yard free from snow. So, Mel, I’m in the same boat…what to do with all these kids! At least we have a fair sized place, and yard, and we’re four houses in from the park.

I know here, the gymnastics club can be rented out, much like a pool party… you bring the food, cake, etc… they’ll provide a coach or two to set up obstacle courses and take the kids through the rounds. Usually, there is a foam pit, which the kids love – and parents often want to stay and watch the kids horse around, which is always helpful! Why not cut the numbers and go see a ballgame… that would be fun.

23 Heather { 03.12.14 at 12:43 pm }

My own birthdays growing up? A couple of friends for a sleep over. Anything prior to sleep over age I really don’t remember anything other than family parties.

We just had our first friend party for K, she turned 7. We rented a community room and she could invite 6 friends. We did a craft, we had a puzzle contest (who can do a 35 piece puzzle the fastest), and then cake and ice cream with presents. We did it from 1-4pm so no meals were needed. It was a Hawaii themed party so we had fruit kabobs and juice along with other snacks. It was pretty low key and generally pretty easy/inexpensive. Her birthday is in January so it always needs to be inside. We may do an indoor pool party next year at the local Y.
My other daughter has a birthday in May. We always rent a pavilion at a park that is near the playground. It works perfectly. This year she wants to invite friends (she’s turning 5) so we may do something else but I don’t think so, pavilion + playground= small kid fun.
I think my sister has always done the “pick 2 friends” and taken them to the movies for her kids. As a bonus she lets the twins do their birthdays on separate occasions so they get a special day with just their friends. As the get older (age 13 this year!) this works better for them.

24 Ana { 03.12.14 at 1:07 pm }

Bowling, skating rink, mini-golf or laser tag? Its summer so you could consider a pool party (or indoor pool party to avoid the weather stress. I know our Y does parties). I assume 9 year olds are too old for bouncy places/gymnastics/dance activities which are faves with the 3-5 crowd.
We did the first kid birthday this year for my sons’ 4th. We had it at a indoor play place but I also planned activities (and spent a billion hours making a piñata) and next time I’ll pay more and get someone to do the activity for us OR just have a few kids and a movie at home. We invited his whole preK class but only 2 kids from school came (+ 2 neighbors and 2 cousins). He has a winter birthday so outdoors is out of the question for us, but I’m hoping to do my younger sons’ party (when he turns 4) at a pumpkin or apple-picking farm (we went to one once in September that had hay rides and baby pigs and such…so fun!)–but maybe the weather issue would eat me alive. Hmmm….

25 LC { 03.12.14 at 1:26 pm }

Could you outsource the planning? Maybe have the twins put together a scavenger hunt they can do with their friends? Or hire a college student who wants to do Elementary Education to come up with interesting ideas based on the twins’ interests? Or create your own MadLibs?

26 Kacey { 03.12.14 at 2:37 pm }

We have started taking our son on a quick getaway to our old city for a couple days around his birthday. He gets to stay in a hotel (which he loves) and do things he can’t do in our small town (visit the children’s museum/zoo/etc) and have dinner at a pizza/arcade place with old friends and then come back and have a quiet dinner and cake with his grandparents. We get to avoid having our home overrun by children and having to plan party games or put together goody bags. Win-win.

27 Jill A. { 03.12.14 at 4:44 pm }

We did skating parties and rock climbing parties at one time. Again, like many of the above suggestions, at places with party packages.

My kids were given a choice for their birthday. They got to pick one – a party, a trip or a big gift. So, do you want a birthday party, a trip to NYC with one friend or a swing set. That type of choice. They always received some smaller gifts from us and had cake and a birthday dinner that included the family. Worked for us and they choose something different each year, which was fun!

Not sure how you manage that with twins. I’m not a twin expert, but I can see it could take some juggling and adjustments. Probably just like everything else with twins!

28 MinnieK { 03.12.14 at 4:54 pm }

I love throwing parties, for myself and others, and I am lucky enough to have a couple friends that will offer up their larger houses if my tiny one won’t fit. My family didn’t place a lot of importance on birthdays when I was growing up and I made up for that in my 20s. One of my favorites (that I threw for myself) was Pins and PJs – a bowling party and everyone was required to wear pajamas. (I love pajamas and have many different fun pairs of pajamas, so this was a natural fit for me). It was cheap, fun and we got great pictures. I also had a Big Lebowski themed party with a Wii bowling Tournament. (You’d think from this list that I like bowling, however, I do not and I am very bad at it.) Everyone dressed as their favorite characters – we have amazing pictures from that one. If its gonna be a big party with people from all my different friend circles, I like to have a fun competition/game, with prizes for the winner and the biggest loser. That way people who don’t know each other have a fun way to interact. For my friends’ bachelor/bachelorette party I organized a scavenger hunt (boys versus girls). Each team had a stuffed animal mascot, and to earn extra points, you could include the mascot in the photo. I love the idea of renting out a movie theater. (I want to do this!) We have a local candy company that hosts birthday parties for kids and adults, and I’d like to do that too. I can’t wait to hear your Plan B!

29 Summer { 03.12.14 at 5:29 pm }

What would your kids want to do to celebrate their birthday? Would they want something that would be big, with lots of kids and so stressful that you wouldn’t want to tackle it? If not, then maybe let the kids plan their own celebration (with whatever limitations you need to put on it), then you will know they will enjoy all the activities and you could all work on planning it and putting it together. Perhaps all they want is a few of their friends and something simple. I know my sil who has twins will do separate parties for each. It requires more work and planning but then it lets them have more individualized celebrations.

30 Alexicographer { 03.12.14 at 10:58 pm }

Oh, we are in the thick of this right now and are gearing up for a Star Wars themed party for our first-grader.

(When I was a kid, parties were either 2+/- hours with a few simple games and cake/gifts, or as we got toward your kids’ ages, they were sometimes slumber parties (but I’d guess that could be tricky with b/g twins depending on local norms, and of course not good with twins in a small house in any case unless you want to allow each to have a slumber party on a different day with a few select friends. Doubt if that meets the “simple” criterion!). Well, I do remember one or two at the ice rink and two movies: Star Wars and a Bond flick — but we were older then (12?)).

Virtually every party DS has been to (N=8?) has been somewhere — a bouncy house, tumble gym, or our local kids’ museum. 2/3 of those are an annoying drive away and while the kids’ museum is GREAT as a museum, its birthday parties are a bit ‘eh,’ relative to a bouncy house, I think (but no less expensive or closer).

I haven’t been willing to start down that path. Last year we got away with a VERY simple Super-Mario themed party (pin the mustache on Mario, coin battle involving racing around the house looking for gold-foil covered chocolate coins), but this year DS is a bit more savvy/has higher expectations. So I am baking huge Star Wars sugar cookies, which we are going to decorate (about 6 6 & 7 year old boys) with sugar icing, and we are having a Darth Vader cake (I bought molds for both cookies and cake, and heaven knows whether they’ll ever get used again — but then, I got them off ebay, so, ebay thou art and to ebay thou shalt return, say I). Weather appears likely to be decent, we’ve decided to move the party to my mom’s house, which is nearby but bigger than ours (and which she keeps much more party-ready, i.e., neat, than we keep ours — but then, she doesn’t live with a small kid…), and we have inflatable light sabers bought at Party City, which I figure can entertain a group of 6 first graders for hours. Oh, and we’re serving pizza (likely DiGiorno) and the cake, of course (and sugar cookies!), and will open gifts as a part of the “activities,” (i.e. while the guests are there) because I think doing that imparts valuable life skills (and takes up time!).

We’d be open to having a pool party (e.g. the local town swimming pool, which is indoor) or somewhere like the ice rink (when DS is older, haven’t skated yet); weather’s too unreliable in March to make strictly outdoor places an option. And if we do go to a venue, I’d aim for the sort of setup where I pay for a group of kids to swim or skate or whatever, not a “birthday package.”

Oh, and did I mention? My little boy is turning 7! Yikes! Wow!

31 Aimee { 03.12.14 at 11:32 pm }

How about a pet parade?

32 Cindy { 03.13.14 at 7:28 am }

The best party we’ve thrown for one of our kids was with a reptile handler and his horde of ‘pets’. It hit the fun AND educational markers and was loved by all. The handler was open to doing it in any location (home, park, hired hall etc.) we could have any number of people we chose and EVERY person, whose ages varied from 1-75, sat attentively and watched in awe for a solid hour as he showed us lizards, snakes, baby crocodile and many more animals. It was by far the BEST party we’ve ever had and every person who came stopped to mention how much they’d enjoyed it, especially the kids.
The only work I had to really do was cater the food & throw up a few balloons which really isn’t too hard.

My kids LOVE going to the movies too so a good all-weather fail safe in our house is a movie with a few friends and stop off at the pizza place afterwards. Not very exciting but little effort and no clean up 🙂
Next year for our oldest sons 10th birthday party he’s already requested a laser tag party and our daughter wants a girls pamper party with manicures & pedicures & facials.

33 Aislinn { 03.13.14 at 10:49 am }

I was a lifeguard for years and we threw so many kids parties. It was nice for the parents because entertainment was already provided, as was someone to watch the kids. All the parents had to do was bring in cake and a few decorations. I’ve also seen parties at indoor skating rinks (both ice and roller,) as well as indoor bounce houses.

As for the whole “You need to buy gifts for people you sometimes barely know and take a guess on their interests. And how much do you spend on said gift?” what about having your kids pick a charity they like (the Humane Society, a reading group for kids, etc.) and ask that friends bring a donation for the charity? That way parents can bring something they have laying around the house (extra dog/cat food, spare change,) and won’t have to worry about making sure the birthday boy and girl like it while not having to spend too much money.

As for presents for the twins, maybe that would come from parents/grandparents/family? I dunno, just a thought.

34 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.13.14 at 2:05 pm }

I see others have beat me to gymnastics. Does your town have a place where it does gymnatics classes? A foam block pit, trampolines, bouncy floor, uneven bars? A party for 16 is doable and comes with a hostess who helps keep everyone safe. You can bring your own cake/ice cream/drinks for afterwards (in a separate room). Kids run and jump and play, good for a range of ages, they’re active and creative and wear themselves out.

35 Jenn Porter { 03.13.14 at 9:56 pm }

I suck at birthday parties. Bad. They are a pain. I told my kids (who share a birthday, but aren’t twins) that maybe this year we can go to the local water park on their birthday. Somebody PLEASE tell me that if I bring a cake we can call that a party!!!

36 deathstar { 03.14.14 at 2:58 am }

I love birthday parties – not crazy about organizing kids’ parties because I do all the work. Hubby has never been a birthday party kind of guy and my mum always held birthday parties for us kids so I just adore all the attention and fun. So I do it for my kid cause I’m happy he’s a year older and even happier that I get to be a mum to him. I’d throw bigger parties if I could afford it. Alas, he’s a winter baby so no outdoor parties for us and we don’t have room to hold one. We have to pay for a space to accommodate raging preschoolers. Last year, my friend lent me her amenities space in her condo building which is completely out of our neighbourhood and I felt odd inviting my son’s classmates that he barely knew, so we invited some of his old playmates from preschool and close family friends. My friends also set up their bouncy castle so we all had a good time (and I had wine). My son loves parties and always wants to have friends over, so I guess it will be a challenge to have an affordable party for him year after year til I become an embarrassment to him. I’m glad your kids have each other to celebrate their birthday together no matter how old they are.

37 deathstar { 03.14.14 at 2:59 am }

Oh, and I vote for a Harry Potter day! Make your own wands and potions!

38 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 03.14.14 at 6:00 am }

Oh, I recently wrote about our best kid’s birthday party ever:
http://journeysofthefabulist.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/the-non-competitive-childrens-birthday/

Not sure how you can use that, exactly… but there’s a point in it somewhere.

39 Mina { 03.14.14 at 10:50 am }

I am less than thrilled that the tendency to go overboard with themed parties, invitations, decorations, party favours and whatnot has crossed the ocean, you could have kept that lot to yourselves, thank you very much. Still, I am pleased to see that the children’s birthday parties we’ve been to over here are simple and similar to what we enjoyed when we were their age: get together, parents stay (they are 3-4 year olds, so it is implied), some food, some cake/muffins, some toys, loads of running around and jumping, reasonable gift (between 10 to 25 euro), and that is it. George’s third birthday party was a BBQ party in the garden, sandpit was open, kiddie pool not, because it was not that hot, but they still had a grand time. And the parents as well.
I am very curious to hear your plans. 🙂

40 nicoleandmaggie { 03.14.14 at 3:05 pm }

I just looked out my window at work and there’s birthday party cake eating going on with hats and everything. They look like maybe tweens. I wonder if the uni museum near my building is now doing parties or something. Very odd! I mean, a lot of times I’ll look outside my window and see bridal pictures being taken because it’s pretty out there, but this is the first birthday party.

41 LN { 03.15.14 at 5:51 pm }

Are they interested in replicating what they did last year? Maybe you can squeeze two years out of it.

This year, we attempted a VERY small gathering of 5 boys at an outdoor county-run waterpark. Disaster! I had originally scheduled it for Saturday, but the weather was terrible, so I (gave myself an ulcer and) rescheduled it for Sunday. One boy couldn’t come on Sunday, but a different one could. I made it painfully clear that parents were not only invited, but required to stay and get in the water to help because the waterpark is big (and filled with water). Two parents came, but didn’t bring bathing suits. (Really? So I had to pay their entrance fee, but they didn’t help AT ALL. One brought a book.) Two others brought younger siblings (so I had to pay all their entrance fees, and the parents played with their younger children exclusively). Luckily, E had lots of fun. Unfortunately, E had lots of fun (so he’ll want to do it again, and I really don’t.)

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