The birthday party conundrum

birthday-party-manners-600Winter presents a set of challenges in many departments. Extra clothing. Extra time to get from point A to point B. Oh- and extra creativity when it comes to things like planning your child’s birthday party.

I have particular respect for those who are able to host those home-based birthday parties- and emerge with both their home and their sanity intact. I, admittedly, am not one of those types, and have long favoured outsourcing the party.

That said, some parties are crazy (and I mean crazy) expensive. Like unnecessarily expensive.  Here are a few thoughts on how to go out of your house to celebrate your child’s birthday without breaking the bank.

Small List

Many of these all-inclusive parties are based on guest lists that include a rather large number of guests. If you can only have a few good friends, your options and your budget get a little bit bigger.

Control the food

Try and schedule the party so that it’s not during a meal- so that you don’t have to feed them. Cake and ice cream is plenty!  If you are doing the full party out of the house, check with the party venue to make sure that you can bring your own stuff. Some places require you to buy stuff in-house, and that usually comes at a premium.


A few years ago, my son’s friends were all having their parties at this local indoor amusement centre (which is a little like Kiddie Las Vegas, complete with flashing lights, ding-donging machines (arcade, not slot) and no clocks). Included with the party was access to all of the indoor activities, pizza and juice for about $400. Yikes.

Instead, my son invited a few of his pals (like as many as we could safely transport ourselves). They came over and ate a quick lunch at our house and then spent the afternoon at the amusement centre for about a quarter of the price (smaller list, smaller price!).

Great Outdoors

There are lots of cool, outdoor- often free (or cheap) activities to behold in the winter. The drawback, of course is that they are weather dependant.

Get a gang together and hit your local outdoor rink for a skate about. For older kids, rent showshoes and go on an adventure through your local park or conservation area, complete with thermoses of hot chocolate.