I admit it. I’m not one of those moms who is scouring Pinterest looking for birthday party ideas.
I have no desire to outdo anyone on any party front.
I don’t cook unless I have to. And while I’m artistic, I’m not overly crafty.
That’s why I’m all for effortless birthday parties that keep everyone happy.
When your child’s birthday is near a major holiday like Thanksgiving, or simply in a colder month like November, you have to get a little creative.
That does not mean you have to break the bank. Nor does it mean you have to go all over the top.
Here’s what we did for my son’s 4th birthday party yesterday. (Note: Biz’s 4th birthday is actually on the 28th. We had his birthday party on the 17th to keep it away from the craziness of the holidays.)
Step 1: Book a party at your local play center.
I live in Maine, and it’s cold outside right now. I’m not having a bunch of 2-7 year olds running around my house. We had Biz’s party at The Rumpus Room, which is just around the corner from our house. Parents bring their kids. Kids run around and play in an area specifically designed for them. Kids play with kids. Adults talk to each other. There’s no need to clean up (though we did anyway because we love The Rumpus Room). Everyone is happy.
Also, it helps if there’s a ball pit and pirate ship.
Step 2: Pick a theme.
We had a pirate party. Because that’s what Biz was in the mood for when we went back to Target after his whole screaming ordeal. We picked out a packet of pirate invitations and thank you notes. He wore a pirate shirt that his Grammy just bought him from the Caribbean. I bought a pirate hat and sword for him to wear to the party (for about $2 each), so he could establish himself as the “captain” of the party. (I also had to explain to him that the hat and sword did not give him the right to tell people what to do. Contrary to his belief.)
Step 3: Rent a hotdog steamer.
Seriously. The kids are running around and playing. You are lucky if they stop for 10 minutes to eat. Don’t go all crazy downloading recipes for a 4 year old’s birthday party. We rented a hotdog steamer for $15 from our local meat market, Bisson’s. They also provided us with the hotdogs and buns. We bought some veggies and dip, some chips and crackers. Oh, and a pirate-themed cake that’s really just cupcakes underneath. Easy to eat. No need for a knife. Boom. You are done with food.
Step 4: Be smart about the favors.
Biz wanted to get everyone a sword. Can you imagine a bunch of small children with swords? It’s bad enough the boys will make anything into a sword (or a gun) without the encouragement. We convinced Biz that only the “captain” should have a sword. We also didn’t want to send everyone home with the standard birthday crap candy and toy favors that I end up throwing away when the kids aren’t paying attention. Keeping with the pirate theme, everyone got a small bag of gold doubloons, an eye patch and a pirate lollipop.
Step 5: Open the presents at home and be done with it.
At a 4 year old’s birthday party, many of the kids don’t have the attention span to sit and watch some other child open presents. They either want the presents, or they just want to do something else. We explained to Biz ahead of time that we would open presents right after the party at home. This also helped us get him out of The Rumpus Room and back home without a fight.
The verdict? The party was a success, and I wasn’t stressed at all about it.
I also have the hotdog steamer for a few days. Who wants some steamed dogs?