It can seem like kids’ expectations around birthday parties are getting out of hand. (Sorry, little Johnny, a backyard circus with pony rides isn’t in the budget this year!) But it’s possible that we’re projecting our own insecurities onto our kids. Just because seven of Johnny’s classmates have had birthday parties at the local trampoline park — that’s the big deal in my area, anyway — doesn’t mean his birthday will be ruined if you decide you’d rather tone down the spending a bit.
While we're still in the colder months, however, affordable outdoor options can start to feel limited. Parks get cold and windy. Backyard sprinkler and Slip ‘n Slide parties are a hit in the summer; in the cooler months, not so much.
So one parent with a couple of spring birthday parties on the horizon took to Reddit for advice on low-key, affordable indoor party ideas. The original post has since been deleted, but the very good responses remain archived for the benefit of the rest of us.
Don’t pay for the birthday party package
The idea is so simple, it might not occur to us if not for Reddit user u/MrsLeeCorso:
[Big dinner] parties can be pricey, but meeting a few friends there, giving them each a play pass and buying a pizza is cheaper than the group party. You [might not be able to] bring a cake or get the decorations but you can sing “happy birthday” with a pizza.
The same goes for that trampoline park, the theatre, the bowling alley or laser tag. It’s a party if you say it is, not just if you buy the platinum birthday package complete with themed decorations and two staff helpers. (And it doesn’t hurt to ask before you go — some places are happy to look the other way as you haul in your cupcakes.)
Host a sleepover
Want to be a hero? Cancel the “party” with the whole class and invite a few close friends over for a sleepover. You are not likely to get much (any) sleep, so don’t make any plans the next day, but a homemade cake, some pizza and a few bags of chips is all they need to make epic memories. They’ll play video games and drink stupid amounts of soft drink and it will barely cost you anything.
Try a craft party
Reddit user u/liottleredhen42 suggested this theme, which can be fun and unique and offer a built-in party favour:
One year my mum bought T-shirts and puff paint for all my friends, and we made our own T-shirts. Slime parties are also really popular in my area right now, and the supplies for that are pretty cheap.
Indoor pool party
Does your local community centre or YMCA have an indoor pool? Invite 4-5 friends for an indoor pool party and be a winter birthday party king/queen. They may also have a gathering area or community room you could use for pizza or cake after they’ve worked up an appetite.
Kids are often easier to please than we might expect. Some food, friends and the opportunity for fun is usually all they need to make an ordinary day feel special.