Easy Kids Birthday Party Ideas | Mom Tip Monday

Planning birthday parties for kids can be quite the ordeal. From picking a theme to cake, goodies and entertainment, to the chaos that ensues with a pack of little ones, simplifying children's parties may start sounding like a fantastic idea. For this Mom Tip Monday, Emily from Is This Really My Life, shares her tips on planning a kids birthday they will love while keeping it simple.

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I love birthday parties. I really do. I mean, we're talking cake, ice cream, presents (and often pizza) all wrapped into one event. But when the birthday party—and the birthday party planning—rival that of, say, your wedding, something's gotta give. And it's often your sanity.

Kids Birthday

Image by StaunchThrowback, shared via Flickr.

Don't get me wrong. I think over-the-top, themed birthday parties complete with handcrafted, coordinating cupcake toppers, party hats, party games, snacks and goody bags are pretty dang awesome. Throw in a pony ride (with a pony sporting a coordinating saddle) and I will sing your praises. But that's kind of party is so not me. I can hardly think past coordinating paper plates, cups and napkins.

I have four kids ages 13 to 4 and I think I've hosted maybe five "real" parties...if even that. Only three of those had goodie bags. Long ago I decided to save what little sanity I had left by simplifying my kids' birthday parties. In fact, some years we may have only had a family party. *gasp*

And why? I think my Twitter friend @HollyWillNot said it best when she tweeted something about birthday parties being a privilege, not a right. And you know what? I don't think my kids feel they've been deprived of their childhood fun—well, more so than usual.

Here are a few ways we've simplified the birthday party and still managed to have a very happy (and very tired) birthday boy or girl—or teenager—at the end of the day:

...Have your party at a local fun center like a bowling alley, indoor trampoline or bounce house play area, paint-your-pottery shop, children's museum or zoo.

Most places have pretty decent rates that often include a party room, paper goods, balloons, snacks and cake. (Note: if you want to bring in your own food and/or cake, check to make sure it's okay.) What I love best about this option is the set-up AND clean-up is included most of the time. You get to simply enjoy the party!

... If the birthday child's special day is during warmer weather, reserve the pavilion at your local park (often free).

All you have to do is bring the cake and paper goods and you're ready to go! Kids love the park and can play for hours—no party games required...other than playing lava monster, of course. Just beware of wind and bring either table clips or paperweights for the tablecloths. Murphy's Law says a huge windstorm will blow through as soon as you've placed the cake atop those lightweight party plates.

... Instead of inviting the entire neighborhood and school for fear of hurting someone's feelings, have your child choose one friend with whom to spend their birthday day.

This often works well because most children have a best friend, so the choice is an easy one. We've done birthday days that consisted of Build-A-Bear Workshop, lunch and a movie; Build-A-Bear, lunch and the nickel arcade; a few too many hours at Planet Play (like a Dave & Buster's for kids); pedicures and dinner. My 13-year-old's upcoming birthday is going to be spent with a good friend at Boondocks driving go karts, playing laser tag and shooting fellow bumper boaters!

... Keep an eye out for coupons or daily deals that would make for a great birthday party.

We did this last week for our 4-year-old's birthday party. I got a deal from Utah Event Rentals for a bounce house and concession stand. We had a castle with a double slide for nearly 12 hours in our backyard plus a snow cone machine complete with two syrup flavors and 50 snow cone cups. Granted, we only hosted the party for 2 hours, but the kids had a total blast.

I put out large bowls of snacks (Goldfish crackers, pretzels, chips, fruit snacks) and buckets of drinks (bottled waters and juice boxes). They played in the bounce house, dug in the sandbox, pushed each other on the swings and had a great time. Oh, and they were exhausted at bedtime. Total success!

... Have your friend who does those awesome over-the-top birthday parties plan it and host

Kidding...unless she's totally up to the task. If that's the case, then go for it!

Also, feel free to ditch the goodie bags. I don't know about you, but after my kids eat anything edible found in the bag, I pretty much throw away whatever is left. (Of course, I'm also known for throwing away McDonald's Happy Meal toys when my kids aren't looking.)

To be completely honest, I do spend a couple hours on one thing: the birthday cake. (We all have our weaknesses, right?) I've made everything from a princess castle cake and shark cupcakes to a backhoe cake and tombstone cupcakes. So though I may be a bit of a slacker mom when it comes to my kids' birthday parties, I make up for it—or at least try to—with their cakes.


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Thank you for these fun ideas on planning an easy birthday party! Stay tuned for another great mom tip next week.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Steal Network or its employees.

Posted in: Mom Tips