The Inside Birthday Party
Winter Parties at home can be a challenge so here are some ideas to encourage you. For older children, 8 and up, ask for their help in planning the party. Pick a theme and stick to it. Choose food, decorations and any activity you plan on doing all around the theme. This helps keep it semi organized and within a budget. If your child’s birthday coincides nicely with one of the many holidays or national days from January – May, use that as the basis for your theme. i.e. Chinese New Year, Presidents’ Day, National Popcorn Day (1/19), Waffle Day (3/25), Jelly Bean Day (4/22) or Frog Jump Jubilee Day (5/19).
Our house is very small, I mean very small. It is an old 1970 California bungalow so there is only 1150 sq feet for all 6 of us. We supplement our indoor living space with a large deck where we have an outdoor living room and dining room. This is great for about 6-8 months out of the year, but what do you do if you have a small indoor living space and a birthday party to plan.
First, relax. You will have to submit to the situation for the day. The house will be a mess. You will have to remove your favorite vase or candle sticks, anything you don’t want knocked over or broken by accident. This will also make room for party related items. Move the furniture around to meet the needs of the party. A great opportunity to see what is really under the couch.
Keep it simple. At many of the parties we have attended, there were several crafts and activity tables set up. This is not only stressful on the parent hosting the party, but for the parents attending the party. It really isn’t necessary, besides think of the environment. Do we really need any more little “things” to take home and later contribute to a landfill? Pick one activity, maybe two, and then just let the kids play and have fun. Limit the time of the party to 2-3 hours (depends on age) so that you won’t feel the need to entertain everyone for very long.
One year I had the local zoo come to the house with the “Zoo Mobile.” This cost be about $150. It included an animal handler with about 4-5 small animals. She introduced each one to the group of children in my living room. She told them interesting facts, let them touch, pet or hold the animal, and ask a ton of questions. It was great, she ran the party. She also gave each child a set of animal trading cards, and an animal stamp plus a free ticket to the zoo each. Bonus, the goodie bag is done! If your kids are into animals, this is a great experience and cost, is the same, if not cheaper than a Jump House or other entertainer.
A costume party is also a big hit. Pick a theme and work around it. One friend did a super hero party and another did a Star Wars party. The guests all came in costume and food matched the theme. Really, even though the moms in this case tried to also do an activity or have a piñata, we all agreed tat in the end, the kids were having so much fun pretending to be the character they came as, no other activity was necessary.
One other option for older kids is for them to use the party as an opportunity to do good in thier community or champion a greater cause they are passionate about: Clothes for Foster Kids; Care Packages for Persons Serving Our Country; Socks for the Homeless; or Helping with Local Red Cross Efforts... there are so many to choose from.
My last idea is a cooking party. Have your child come up with a menu; he or she and friends can have fun cooking. Make it an Iron Chef style competition or video tape it as if it were a cooking show. It is really funny to watch the video later and copies on DVD's make great take away gifts for the kids.
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