Chuck E. Cheese, Roller skating, sleepover… been there done that. Swimming at a local hotel, a Princess Party, bowling… check, check and check. A video game marathon… no thank you. Paying for everyone to get into the movies… are you crazy? Dance Party …there’s not enough aspirin in the world.
So, then what exactly are you going to do for your child’s next birthday party? Here are three unique ways to celebrate a birthday event that require minimal prep and clean up and are guaranteed to be a good time.
My niece recently had her birthday party at the local fire station. For a small donation to the fire department, we got a fun filled afternoon in return. For the first hour of the party, guests participated in safety activities, watched a fire safety movie and created a fire escape plan for their house. Then came the highlight… the fire truck! The children enthusiastically climbed in the truck, sat in the driver seat, tried on the headsets, climbed the ladder and squealed with delight when the siren was sounded. Gifts, cake (provided by the birthday kiddo’s parents) and a relay race followed. To cap off the event, the fire fighters handed out party packs including a coloring book with crayons, a plastic helmet and fire department stickers and tattoos. It was a great party. The kids had fun and learned something!
One of the most memorable birthday parties I ever attended took place at a salon. Several little girls crowded in through the doors of the local Cosmetic Academy (cheaper than the official pros!) and proceeded to be pampered. Each of us had our hair styled (this was the early 90’s… just imagine our bangs!). A small photo shoot finished off the afternoon, both individual and group shots. The birthday girls’ mom later sent us copies of our glamour shots. What a great memento and fun way to remember a beautiful day. If you are the momma of a girly-girl, this is a must-do birthday party. Tip: promise moms that you will not allow any cutting, coloring or perms!
For your culinary inclined child, take a trip to a bakery. Before arriving at the bakery, partygoers can make personalized aprons. Supplies can be cheaply purchased at Oriental Trading Company for around $12 a dozen. Once at the bakery children participate in a guided tour showing where all the magic happens. The culminating event is decorating cupcakes, using all the fancy frosting tools and sugary sprinkles! Ask the baker to give a tutorial ahead of time, showing a variety of techniques to get their creative juices flowing.
No matter how you decide to celebrate, here are a few tips to remember.
- If your party is between meal times, for example 1-4pm, you can cut party costs by not serving a main meal.
- At my house growing up, our age determined the number of guests we were allowed to invite. Turning 8? Then 8 friends can come!
- Bring a camera to capture all of the birthday bliss. Share pictures with party attendees’ parents via online photo sites like Shutterfly.
- If your child (or your child’s guests) is young enough to still take naps, consider this when planning the party. It’s their party and they can cry if they want to, but no one really wants to watch your three year old melt down at 1:30 because they haven’t had their daily rest.
- Let parents know if you’d like them to attend. Sometimes it is helpful to have extra eyes (say at the swimming pool) but other times it just adds to the chaos, not to mention the cost.
Photo Credit: Yahoo Picture Library; morguefile.com/earl53; earl53