Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Birthday Planning

Teagan has a big birthday coming up. She's turning 5 on March 16. For the past 3 birthdays, we haven't had big parties. We have dinner with family, we plan a fun weekend... there's presents and cake and ice cream. Jeff and I have always said that when she turns 5, that will be her first "friend" party. because when she turns 5, she'll be in school and she'll have a social group and turning 5 is a big deal and... And now she's turning 5. And we are faced with choices about the birthday as it approaches. We are about 6 weeks out... Do we stick with the same thing we used to do? Family dinner, special day of fun, presents, cake, ice cream? Do we have a party where we invite some friends to join in on the fun? And if we do go with a "friend" party.... oooooh boy... Where do we have it? How much are we willing to spend? How many kids do we invite? How do we decide which kids to invite? What are the etiquette rules? Do we include siblings or just the kid we actually know? Should I be concerned that Teagan hasn't been invited to any birthday parties? Should I have gift bags? Should I expect parents to stay with their kids? Will they know that or do I have to explain it? So here are some things I'm considering... 1. Monkey Joe's. It's a big inflatable bounce house place. We've gone a few times and had a lot of fun each time. They have party rooms and we can have cake and pizza and so on. Teagan has seen kids having parties there before and expressed a desire to have her birthday there. Big expense but minimal headache in regards to planning. Plus, party packages will dictate how many kids we invite. OR we invite 2-3 friends to join us there to just have fun. But that would be more of a playdate than a party. 2. Conner Prairie. Maybe just have a couple of friends join us for a day at Conner Prairie (living history museum). We are members so the only expense will be admission for the other kids and food- we would have lunch before or while there. I'm also going to see if they have anything they do for birthdays (and if they don't... I have ideas that I think would be a big hit). I haven't found anything online but am going to call. 3. Chuck E Cheese. Most likely NOT going to happen. But maybe... it should still be considered. And... I'm out of ideas. Any input? Great birthday stories to share? My only limitation... we can't do a party at our house. But we are open to all other possibilities!


mimbles said...

Don't know that I can come up with any useful advice about where to hold it not knowing what's around or what the weather might be like. We've done 5 year old parties at home and allowed the kids to invite pretty much as many of their friends as they wanted, Caitlin wanted her whole class but Tom and Dave usually ask for around 6 friends. For Caitlin's we had Kindyfarm come with all the baby animals, the boys both had ordinary party game, party food & cake type affairs.

I've also been to or held parties for around that age at local park - feed 'em and then let them run around, at various play centers (similar to Monkey Joe's I imagine), at the zoo - we took 6 kids with packed lunches to Taronga Zoo for the day for David's 7th birthday, at a bowling alley, at the movies, and lots at a local community hall with a playground attached (it's very cheap to hire). There's no doubt the play center ones are easy but they're not my favourite, too noisy and impersonal for my taste.

The Conner Prairie idea sounds lovely and keeping the number of kids small is probably wise. The rule of thumb, so I'm told, for party numbers is the age of the child plus one. If you can recruit an extra adult, do! An extra pair of eyes and hands can be a sanity saver.

Mt feeling is you have no obligation to siblings, parties are just for the friends. Gift bags are nice but keep it very simple, a small amount of candy, a very inexpensive gift (small bouncy ball, hair accessories, keyring, that sort of thing) and a balloon is plenty. At one party I did I got the kids to do a craft project decorating paper bags which then became their gift bags.

By 5 we found many parents were ready to leave their kids at the party but there were also some who preferred to stay or whose kid didn't want them to leave. At a play center or park that's no problem, the adults can sit around and chat while the kids have fun.

Um, that got kind of long, and possibly not very coherent...

Mary said...

I loathe Chuck the Rat. My kids love him, when Aeryn turned four a month after her brother was born we did the party there so that I wouldn't have to try and plan a whole party while nursing a newborn. Now that she's 8 we've been to some other kids' parties and I'm getting some ideas. I still have small parties at home with a few friends, cake & ice cream and a game or two. But for this year I'm considering afew ideas:

1. Skating party - Ice or Roller
2. Pool party - a friend at work rented the indoor pool at a local motel for around $100 for a couple of hours. Great idea for winter when the kids don't get to swim outside
3. Build a Bear workshop at the mall
4. Bowling party - these can be pretty inexpensive and my kids absolutely love to bowl (this is probably what I'll do, Aeryn's birthday is in October and I'll likely make a costume party out of it)

Have fun planning!

Anonymous said...

We have always done "invite the number of kids you are old" thing when we have a "friends" party. I much prefer to do it myself and avoid the places that have party rooms, etc. Bowling is a great idea, as is Conner Prairie. I avoid places where everyone else has parties...you are setting the bar pretty high for future parties.

Leave the parents and siblings at home but bring along an extra adult to help you out.


Have fun!

Eternal Lizdom said...

That's the second vote for Build A Bear that I've heard... hmmm... see? Asking for ideas can be a big help. I never would have thought of it!

Garret said...

Tell her that they discontinued birthday parties due to national debt and such.

OK, well then the other suggestion I like is bowling and build-a-bear. I loved skating rink parties when I was a kid but I think 5 is too young for that. Also too many accidents waiting to happen.

Momza said...

Best place we've had parties are usually at Gyms or Swimming places! Wears the kids out. Don't have to play games. And there are other adults helping! No clean-up either! I love that part!

Alison said...

Two words: Gramma's house.


Anonymous said...

My daughter had Ayla's at the local Y last year (3 year-olds) and is planning to do the same this year when she turns four next month. Rent the gymnastics area or pool for 2 hours, have cake and ice-cream, open presents. Great fun for 12-15 kids. Parent usually hang around . :)

Shell said...

Go with Monkey Joes! It might seem like it will be more, but I end up spending more money on our home parties- b/c I do a lot more food.

Is there a build-a-bear around you? Only cost is for an animal for each kid(and you get to pick the ones for them to pick from and don't have to do the accessories) and then no having to buy party favors- they get the best ones! Ours has a party room in it, so we had cake and juice there, too. It was actually cheaper than everything else we looked at.

Unknown said...

Hiya, Liz! Whoa friend parties are a big parent debate. My gal just turned five and luckily we took our family vacation that week so we avoided the party chaos.

What about having a party at your church? Your posts mention how much time you spend there, maybe you can rent the gym for a party. Invite Teagan's friends (no sibs) and have all kinds of fun games (balloon between the knees race, paint-your-own-clown-face) a craft activity and pizza!

Good luck!

Garret said...

A party at the church is a good idea except it might alienate kids whose parents might not belong to that church or aren't even church goers. They may also feel as though you are trying to convert those with different beliefs.

Tracie said...

For the love of all things Holy, don't have it at Chuck E Cheese. That place is evil.

Karen M. Peterson said...

My favorite birthday parties were the old school ones. A two hour party with Pin the Tail on the Donkey and a couple of other silly games, some cake and ice cream and as many of our classmates as felt like showing up.

Katherine said...

My son is now 7, and we have still yet to do a "Big" party. It's been 1-2 friends and some cousins, and always at our house.

But if you are going to do a big party, I would definitely recommend the one with the littlest headache. And staying away from Chuck E Cheese at all cost. It's a kiddie casino in there.

Lisa said...

Does Teagan like tea parties? When Helen was 6, we hosted the most adorable tea party in our house. Annie's Tea Wagon came, set-up, served lemonade tea and cookies/sandwiches, provided dress-up clothes and a puppet show AND threw in an etiquette lesson, which was adorable to watch. All I had to provide were the cupcakes.

On a side note: what is the verdict on party bags for the guests? The candy and trinkets are one of my least favorite parts of the whole party thing. That's what makes Build-a-Bear so great - built in, awesome present for everybody!

Mellodee said...

There's a lot to be said for small groups of kids at this age. No matter where you have the party, its easier to keep a small group entertained. And they don't expect as much as the older kids. The will, however, probably expect a goodie bag!

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Lori said...

Having a party at Chuck E Cheese is like asking someone to hit you over the head as hard as they can with a sledge hammer...twice. Don't do it. We have a mom here at the school who just had one there...poor thing didn't know. If you'd like someone else's opinion on that, ask her. Enough on that subject.

You are NEVER obligated to sibs at a bday party!! EVER. And enough on that.

Build A Bear parties are great...I have to agree on that one!

If you're considering a swimming party, check out the Monon Center in Carmel. Super cheap, super easy, super fun!! But you definitely want parents to stay if you're putting their kiddos in the water.