Party Planning: More or Less?

[ 11 ] October 24, 2008 |

Pirate Cake on kid o infoBy Elyse Major

Birthday party planning and party venues have become quite the booming industry. It seems like almost any business can figure out a way to handle your party needs. I can imagine a Supermarket Party, where each child gets to load a cart, guess the weight of green peppers on a scale, and have cake at the WiFi café. Favors could be packed into reusable bags! Kidding aside, many of these non-DIY or “pre-packaged” parties can be fun, active, and sometimes cost-effective.

However, it can also be very fun and rewarding to plan and host your own party. In our family, we have a Brothers’ Party each year. My boys were born two years and two weeks apart, and since they share many of the same pals, we combine their birthdays into one annual fete. Deciding on a party theme can make everything else fall into place. Here are a few ideas from past parties.

The Pirate Party
This party was planned about a year before the pirate craze started. The lack of available favors and items forced some creativity.
Location: The best idea of all for this party came from my son Jonah, who excitedly suggested that we have the party at a beach. We did. We had the party at Bristol Town Beach and took a chance that its covered picnic area would be available. It was!
Highlights: Finding buried oversized gold coins in the sand; a piñata; and temporary tattoos.
Fun Food: Pirate’s Booty and pizza strips.

Skee Ball on kid o infoparty on kid o info

The Carnival Party
Much of the inspiration for this party came from a carnival style font that I saw and wanted to use! (Can anyone else out there relate to this?)
Location: Our backyard (but a public park would work well).
Highlights: Guiding guests through our balloon-lined yard to play homemade games like my husband’s prized Skee Ball (which we all painted). Favors were large inflatable animals.
Fun Food: We rented a cotton candy machine, popped popcorn, and drank lemonade and cider.

The Cowboy Party
This was a small and simple party when one of the brothers was still in utero, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Location: Our apartment’s small backyard.
Highlights: Toddler-sized cowboy hats for each guest; pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game; red bandannas used wherever possible (lining bowls of crackers, around my neck, etc.).
Fun Food: PB&Js cut into star shapes; a Sheriff Woody cake.

Home Party Pros
– Planning the party can be a family project or your own unique vision with kido-input.
– It can cost less than having a party at a popular party location.
– When your party doesn’t cost “per child” you can open up the guest list to anyone your children wishes to invite instead of limiting the party to 10-12 kids.
– Unique memories of the entire process and day.

The Cons
– When you plan an outdoor party, you realize how weather reports can shift drastically on a daily basis. This can cause stress!
– You could get rained-out so have a Plan B (like a basement or tent) but avoid setting a rain date — it’s just too tricky for most people’s schedules.
– There is a lot of set-up, pre-party cleaning (think: the bathroom), and post-party clean-up.
– If you let your imagination run too wild, your party can cost more than you may have anticipated (think: Skee Ball table).

Find more great “At-home birthday party ideas” here on Kidoinfo.

Elyse Major lives in northern Rhode Island with her husband and 2 sons (almost 6 and almost 8 years old). A “mostly” stay-at-home mom, Elyse works as a communications consultant for Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island. Hobbies include doing crafts with her boys; eating popcorn with her husband; writing; creating home dècor; and most recently blogging (visit Elyse’s blog at

Photo credit: Elyse Major

Category: parties

Elyse Major

about the author ()

Elyse (Press) Major has been creative since childhood. In addition to being a longtime contributor to Kidoinfo, Elyse has authored craft and DIY home décor books, and been featured in, produced projects and written for many home décor publications. She lives in her beloved Rhode Island with her awesome boys and husband. Follow Elyse / tinkered treasures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and her blog

Comments (11)

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  1. calendar katy says:

    You were kidding about the grocery store party, but I like that idea for real. You wouldn’t have to shop for prizes ahead of time and the kids could choose a cupcake from the bakery section. It could work…

  2. calendar katy says:

    Also there would be good coffee for the parents.

  3. Anisa Raoof Anisa says:

    Kidoinfo readers think so out-of-the-box, I love it…

    And Elyse, you have great ideas and useful words of caution: “If you let your imagination run too wild, your party can cost more (or take way more time) than you may have anticipated”. I have been there and done that.

  4. elyse says:

    your comments made my day! katy — Super(market)Party invitations could look like coupons! (don’t get me started — LOL)

  5. betsy says:

    It’s refreshing to read that you have turned birthday parties back to the home front–not something to have planned by a professional but by a child’s family. The memory building is so important. Thanks!

  6. diane says:

    speaking of grocery parties – as the kids get older – you could pass out circulars
    and pads – they have $50 to spend – what would they buy? write it and add it up
    the person closest to $50 w/out going over -wins!
    experience some tasting of unusual foods –
    blind folded! lots of kids I know have never had a beet! or mango!
    …it was silly – but it’s actually a good idea – just don’t tell the market or they’ll capitalize on it – and then
    there goes the home party idea!

  7. I love your ideas. 2 of my 4 boys are 1 year and 2 weeks apart. So I totally get the “Brothers Party” idea. Did your husband make that skee ball? That looks awesome!

  8. Mallory says:

    The main party I remember from when I was young was a Looney Toons party. We always seemed to do themed parties like that and everyone dressed up. I miss those times.. 🙂 Thanks for sharing all these ideas!

  9. elyse says:

    thanks, ivanna! yes, my husband did make the skee ball. i visited your site. i love the garden tea party theme (for me!)

  10. OOOh, I’ve always wanted a skee ball. LOL For every party that I throw for my kids there usually is some construction project I get him to do. My youngest will be turning 1 in November and we will be doing a 3 Little Pigs Theme so he needs to make 3 (cardboardish) houses.
    Thanks for checking out my site, glad you liked it.

  11. elyse says:

    the 3 little pigs party sounds awesome. you will have to take/send lots of pics! xo

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