Birthday Parties at Home
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Birthday Parties at Home
My daughters (turning 2 yrs and 4 yrs)have winter birthdays and
after completing the summer birthday party ''circuit'', I am
stumped what to do for their party. Would like to have it at my
house but have approximately 12 kids that I would like to invite
from the neighborhood and their school. Is it completely crazy
to try to do the party in my 2,000 square foot home? I could
rent a location but I prefer to do a low key party with the
tradition cake, pinata, and a few craft activites. I would love
advice from any who have ''been there, done that''. Also, I am not
sure how many adults I should expect. Most of the 12 kids will
be 4 year olds. Any advice would be appreciated.
As a December baby, I know all too well the hardships of a winter
birthday. My brother was born on Christmas, so you can just
imagine how creative we had to be growing up!
My favorite ideas from my past:
- Chuck E. Cheese: sure the pizza tastes a bit like cardboard, but
the kids love to run around and win prizes.
- Ice Skating: I loved this. You can rent a portion of the rink
for a steal, get a cake, and have a blast celebrating a very
- Treasure Scavenger Hunt: My mom made a list of treasures we had
to find from nearby neighbors. This was great and made my rainy
9th birthday alot of fun. Great for parent-kid teams as well.
- Cookie Party: Everyone bakes holiday cookies and gets to
decorate 'em. And then eat them, of course. :)
You can certainly have birthday parties in your house for your 2
and 4 year olds. We did it for years in our 1300 square ft.
house! Just clear stuff out of the way and have lots of
I am considering something similar in our 1200 SF home so
2000SF sounds like a palace to me. I'd say go for it if you can
be comfortable with work required on your part. I think it
would be really fun and relaxed for the kids and you could even
hire a housecleaner after if you want/ need to since it should
be cheaper than renting out a place.
We have a winter birthday too.
A few things we did over the years (my son is now 13 and wants
to have dance parties...OY)
When he was about 3, I cleared the furniture back, set up a kid
table in the living room (also small house) and planned a few
kid games, fed them pizza and cake and sent them home. It was
about 2 or 3 hours.
Another year I hired a bird lady who came and did a show with 2
cockatiels and a parrot or two. She brought all her own stuff to
set up...tables too. She was great. (again, I cleared the
furniture and rugs back). AFter she left I laid out a big sheet
on the floor and the kids sat on the floor and ate, picnic style.
You can do art projects...you can also hire an art person to do
a project with them. Good luck.
Twelve is a lot of kids to have for an indoor birthday party,
unless you have a very big garage or family room. Eight is much
more manageable, especially under age 8.
Consider having the party half inside and half outside, or
schedule the party for the beach or park (even in the winter),
with your house or garage as a backup in case of wet weather.
In general I have found that boys are less interested in indoor
birthday games and activities (although the Lego box and video
games are always a big hit), while girls ate up the prepared
crafts and games (bingo, charades, the bean trading/guessing
game, competitions like passing eggs without breaking-- lots of
books have ideas for indoor party games). After about age 8,
we've alternated between taking a group out for an activity
birthday party (like the indoor Albany Pool, the Jungle in
Concord or SF, Iceland in Berkeley, bowling or a movie theater)
and just having an overnight, with plenty of pizza, popcorn,
and videos, plus a big breakfast. Do you know anyone with a hot
tub? That can also be a great winter birthday activity for 6 or
7 kids if the water is 101 or 102 degrees-- whether it rains or
How about hiring a music teacher to entertain the children? We
had our 3yo's party at home (about 10 kids) and had the
traveling music teacher from her preschool come - about $100 -
for 45 minutes and sing interactive songs. Helps them work off
their energy dancing and singing, rather than being all over
your house! He's great, and his name is Gerry Tenney (510)834-
6166 Fun for the kids, and cheaper then renting a special
location. Also, save the cake or other sweet stuff for the VERY
end so they bring their sugar high home with them!
Some ideas to keep the intensity at a manageable level are to
invite fewer kids and not have a pinata.
No problem! We have held December 13th birthday parties
for our 5(almost 6) yo daughter for the last several years in
our 1100 sq.ft. home + small deck. We've invited as many
as 14 kids + parents.
We set up the sideboard with buffet snacks, drinks, and
service. The cake etc, stayed hidden in kitchen. Games
were in living room, study, & deck (we've been blessed so
far with good weather). Folding chairs & floor pillows were
used for extra seating.
The key to success for us has been to limit the time of the
party to 2-2.5 hours.
I wrote a long reply, but the computer ate it. Sigh. Anyway, I
just wanted to say that no, you are definitely not crazy, as
long as you genuinely LIKE giving parties (and doing all the
work that entails). Last winter we had a 3rd birthday party for
my son with about 20 little kids and an approximately equal
number of parents in our 1200 square foot home. We all had a
great time. We'll do it again this winter, and every winter
thereafter unless and until my son says he wants a different
kind of celebration, but I enjoy giving big, casual parties and
this is no exception. (40 guests is actually kind of on the
small side for me, though I admit that preschoolers seem to take
up more space than they should!)
Go for it! Plan well and have fun. (No pinata, I think -- an
indoor pinata is something you are likely to regret.) You're
more than welcome to email me if you're interested in hearing
what's worked well in my experience with my son and his friends.
We just had a 2 year old birthday party this weekend for my November baby (not a
baby any more!) and here is what we did: we sent out invitations that said that we
would have the party at a park near our home, but that if it was raining or really
cold, we'd have it at our house. Luckily, the weather was wonderful, and it turned
out to be a really great party (10 kids). The downside was that we actually had to
clean and prepare our house just in case, but I'm so glad we did it this way. We had
the tables at the playground to ourselves, and it was much more pleasant (and less
clean-up) than being at home. But home would have been an o.k. back up.
Had our cake and ate it, too.
A guide line which we found very helpful with our three was that the
number of invited guests should be (less than or ) equal to the birthday
childs age. i.e. five guests for a fifth birthday party. This helps keep
things under control. Roger
Re: Party in home for young child
1)Have children decorate their pinata bags (using paper lunch bags),
pour glue into small bowel and let them use Q-tips (if not they just
keep pouring and pouring), have lots of different color sprinkles,
markers, fabric or let them go outside and find stuff to glue on like
leaves, pebbles. I borrowed a long table, bench & chairs. 2)Play
musical chairs; the prize can be as simple as a ribbon or pencils.
3)Face painting is always a hit. 4)Dance and or freeze when music
stops. 5) Eat food 6) Break pinata, I recommend letting the birthday
child break it because it gets dangerous when the kids keep running in
for pieces of candy also stopping to retie blind fold on each child is
too much for me. 7) Eat Cake. 8) Sleep over or send them home. The
week to follow I ask my 6 yrs. and 12 yrs. to write thank you notes to
EVERYONE (Oct. & Nov. babies). P.S. I did all the above in my garage.
I used a
party idea that I had read about in Valley Parent. This
free newspaper has
party ideas in every issue. The theme we chose was "Teddy
Bear Picnic." We
had each guest bring their Teddy Bear. I found a
recording of the Teddy Bear
Picnic song at Down Home Music. (The one that goes - "If
you go into the
words today, you're in for a big surprise..."). We
started the party off
with a Teddy Bear Parade and even some of the older kids
Birthday girl got to lead and I marched along playing the
picnic song on a
tape player. Then we sat in a circle and did some circle
child introduced their bear and told us how old it was.
Then we did some
Bear songs and rhymes that I got from the newspaper
article. Food was "Teddy
Grahams" - those bear-shaped graham crackers and
mini-bagels that I ordered
from Noah's. The goody bags had Gummy Bears and bear
stickers along with a
few other little toys.
One thing that did not work was the "Pin the heart on the
Bear" game that I
created. I drew a Bear with a big heart on a poster board
and cut out hearts
from paper. The 4 year olds in our group were shy about
the concept of
placing a blindfold on their faces. Only a few kids
participated. You can
probably think of other bear ideas from this basic theme.
On arrival I had some artsy activities. One year they
made and decorated
crowns, FIMO another year. I also had the kids do silly
races, like with a
grapefruit between their legs or with marshmallows on
spoons. We did my
son's party in Bateman Park near Alta Bates while he was
young because it's
an enclosed space, has sand and playground eqpt, has
tables, isn't crowded,
doesn't require reservations.
Little kids are completely thrilled with very simple
parties - you'll be
doing yourself and them a favor if you don't overdo it.
They are still
on the young side to do very complicated party games, but
they do enjoy
dress-up and role playing. (Kids n Dance does a nice,
not very expensive
party with simple costumes; they lead the kids through a
story-adventure.) I forget how many kids you're having
come, but the
more kids, the simpler the activities - running around in
often plenty exciting. Another very simple crowd-pleaser
For food, pizza in little strips and some watermelon
might be eaten. You
can try making tiny little sandwiches cut into shapes
cutters. Also I have found, after knocking myself out
with fancy cakes,
that little kids are in it for two things: ice cream and
often go uneaten, but ice cream cakes will be devoured
(Ben and Jerrys or
Baskin Robbins). Grownups really like the Ben & Jerry's
cakes! Get one
that's plain vanilla, or vanilla and strawberry/ vanilla
chip for the kids, and another that's New York Super
Fudge for the
grownups (add some Chunky Monkey to it and invite me!)
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