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Kids birthday party pressure

June 16th, 2014 at 07:23 am

So it is the "norm" around here, at least in my son's circle of friends, to have your birthday party out at one of the many bowling alleys, mini-golf places, inflatable bouncy places, etc., that are in town. All to the tune of $200-$350. And yes, we have been happily paying this much for his birthday parties since he was 2 years old. But now we have come to our senses and realized that 7 year old boys can have just as much fun doing something a lot cheaper!

I am trying to convince my husband to have his party at home. One concern is that it is at the end of July and it is often 100 degrees in Virginia at that time of year. Also, parents typically stay with their kids for the party, which doubles the number of people in our house. Our house is substantially smaller than most of his classmates (at 2200 sq ft, so that just goes to show the size of his friends' houses!), so he would be limited in the number of friends he can invite.

Then there is the hassle of cleaning up before and after. That alone almost makes it worth paying $300 to have it somewhere else! Smile

As of now, if hubby will agree, I'm thinking make your own personal sized pizzas, maybe decorate your own cupcakes as well, and any games I can come up with (both indoors and outdoors, but indoor games are a little touger to come up with.

We do also have a sprinkler and water hopscotch, but then I have to deal with wet little boys coming back in my house Smile

Any suggestions for how to make this affordable and still make it fun for kids (and their parents) who are accustomed to fancier parties?

12 Responses to “Kids birthday party pressure”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Wet boys stay outside! Parents may not want to stay if they will be outside and potentially getting wet. I would only cater my party to the children, not the adults. Just because they have those parties doesn't mean they won't appreciate yours.

    We did an outdoor party for my daughter in our backyard in July. We had an above ground pool then. Unfortunately it rained a little bit, but those 6 year olds still had a good time getting in when the weather was clear.

    I've found it is nice to have a mid afternoon party to avoid feeding an actual meal to guests. We do serve cake and ice cream. Slushies?

    Water balloon fight, balloons prepped before hand, kids pick up the pieces. Water guns. Relay races...they are numerous varieties. Slip and slide and sprinker. Maybe something could be put in a pool of water to be fished for. There are lots of ideas out there on the internet that can keep kids busy outdoors for two hours. In fact I googled outdoor water games and saw several possibilities!

  2. Jenn Says:

    We have a compromise. Our kids have birthday parties (and they're expensive as you point out) every OTHER year. The 'in-between' years are a family celebration. A special dinner with a cake for dessert.

  3. Suzanne Says:

    Scavenger hunt or treasure hunt....fort-building contest...

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    If you don't want the parents to stick around, spell that out in the invitation. I think it's generally assumed at that age that parents should stick around. But, I am always relieved when parents say "Drop off your kids at this time and pick them up at this time".

    I wouldn't worry about what everyone else is doing. We have always gotten lots of compliments for keeping things simple. People enjoy it. A lot of our neighbors pay the $300 because it is "easy," but can certainly enjoy a low key home party. I don't see that the kids care either way.

  5. My English Castle Says:

    Is there a local pool outside? Sometimes that can be a cheaper party. I must admit, I hate giving kids' birthday parties, but I did it when DD was under 6. Now I'm looking for a Groupon to take her and her friends out.

    Water balloons are a lot of fun. I did a tropical theme one year, keeping them all outside with pineapple and other fruit skewers, colored drinks, etc. Maybe more girly, but it's easy and fun.

  6. BuckyBadger Says:

    Not to be a big spender, but how much of a dent will $200-$350 make in your budget? As you said, there's a lot to be said for going to a place that specializes in these sorts of events. I'm not sure how many kids you're expecting, but feeding them at your own home won't be free, either. And the clean up and the hours spent prepping?

    I'd just fork it over. That doesn't actually seem like too much money for what you'll be getting and more importantly - what you'll be avoiding!

  7. frugalredhead Says:

    BuckyBadger, this is kind of why we've always done it! The number of hours we would spent cleaning before and after, while free monetarily, will take a lot of time that we don't really have or could use for other things. I have also found a couple of places, like lasertag, that charges $17 each child with a minimum of 8 kids, for a total of $136, and then add a couple of pizzas and we could probably do for around $200. Most other places are $250 for 12 kids, or 15 kids, and we often don't have that many come, so it's like you're wasting money!

    Doing homemade make your own pizzas would probably cost $20 (I make the dough myself and then would need sauce and toppings), and then there's the cost of activities and decorations. All in all we could probably do it for around $100.

    So then I'm paying $100 to have someone else run the party, watch the kids, and clean up. Doesn't sound like a bad deal when you put it that way.... hubby and I will have to discuss further.

  8. Petunia in a Flower Garden Says:

    I remember those days. . .

    Around the time my daughter turned 7 we ended up in another social circle that didn't have that kind of birthday pressure.

    Having a good theme is helpful, if not key, for having an at-home party. A couple of years ago we did a Star Wars-themed birthday party for my daughter. My house is about 1200 square feet and we ended up with over 20 guests. You can read about the party here: http://petunia.savingadvice.com/2012/10/18/birthday-party_98296/

    That said, it may not be a bad deal for you to do the party elsewhere.

  9. aukxsona Says:

    I'm with credit card free, water balloons and squirt guns...

  10. mimipaula1 Says:

    Best birthday party my son(s) ever had was the year we were re-doing our yard and had a couple of dumptruck loads of dirt delivered about three days before the party. Eight boys 10 years and under, plenty of dirt, and some outside toys to play with! BIG FUN!

  11. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Where I live people have it out because they don't have the space to have people over. I certainly don't. So I have to shell out for a 4th winter birthday party of $349 this year just the space, but then there was food and cake. Last two years I split it to save money. My upcoming DD 2nd birthday in July I'm renting a site at a park @ $30/hr for 3 hours = $90. Then food and stuff will be another $200 at least. But in a townhouse with 1600 sq ft, no parking, no backyard, bad layout over 3 stories, it's a little tough to do it at home. And yes we are having our friends but these are people we see all the time.

    I'd do it out if it's easier. I just like being outdoors so my DD2 is getting a park party. Perhaps I'll shell out for the zoo or something one day.

  12. Butterscotch Says:

    I never had big birthday parties because my parents hated having other kids in the house. No parties, no sleepovers. But I remember on my 8th birthday I was allowed to invite 6 or 7 friends to the movies with me. IT WAS AWESOME! We got to sit by ourselves (my mom was somewhere in the theatre watching us), we ate popcorn, and my mom snuck a bunch on candy in her purse and just handed it out once we were seated. It must have been like $4 a kid for a Saturday first viewing, not sure what it costs now. But the parents just dropped their kids off at the theatre and picked them up when it was over. Maybe you could do something like that? If you invite 8 kids and bring candy you could probably do it for $100, depending on what movies cost in your area.

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