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Your BEST - or WORST Kids B-Day Party Planning

abasketabasket 20241 replies893 threads Senior Member
Shoot off of the Chuck E Cheese thread.... :)

I wish I had kept track of each year we had one and what we planned. I was pretty much a stickler for as often as possible doing at home parties that we would plan. We didn't do parties every year but often enough.

D1 - Party that involved a HUGE neighborhood scavenger hunt. Her and her friends talked about that for YEARS.
D2 - D2 was 8 years younger than D1 so when D2 was around 7 or so I hired D1 and her friend (they were mid teens) to be the party hosts and plan activities. They planned a "spa party" - activities included facials w/cucumbers for eyes, yoga, dance, decorate your own flip flops and other activities.

S wasn't really into bday parties. And this party may have been why. He was about 7 or 8 and that was a time all his friends were into Pokemon. Except he wasn't. When it came to time to open gifts, EVERY SINGLE GIFT was a Pokemon item! And worse yet, the kids who bought them were so excited they snatched the item out of his hand and if it was under plastic immediately opened the package (so no taking items back). My son was super polite and played along with it all. Afterwards I gave him cash to get himself some presents he would actually like!!

The parents who would ignore the pick up time and arrive 1/2 hour to an hour late. The pick up time is not really flexible people!
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Replies to: Your BEST - or WORST Kids B-Day Party Planning

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8819 replies85 threads Senior Member
    Fun idea!

    Love the idea of the neighborhood scavenger hunt!

    Best parties for us -

    Roller rink - old fashioned roller rink but with roller blades. They had party rooms and supplied everything. 2 hours of skating, presents, and food.

    Dance studio - they did a private class for the party with the b-day girl's favorite music, and they did a little video and show for the parents at pick up. This was a big hit with the little girls (maybe age 7). More so than I would have expected.

    Zoo - we did a small party in one of the enclosed areas of the zoo with a tour to see the animals, lunch, and time at the playground.

    The thing these had in common is that all I had to do was show up and pay. The locations did all the work, food, and cake and the kids got to do something fairly active. D had a really nice group of friends and even keeping an eye on kids at the zoo was easy enough. Roller rink and the dance studio, even easier.

    I can't remember a worst for when D was little but, when she was 17 we were hosting a big party/sleep over and she had a car accident on her way home from an EC. It was very minor and no one else was involved, but she was incredibly shaken and I had to leave all the preparations to go get her nearly an hour away. I ended up calling my H and he was thankfully able to at least get the pizza and pop. We got home less than 5 minutes before the first guest arrived with D barely together and looking a mess. Not the best.
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  • natty1988natty1988 789 replies12 threads Member
    edited January 15
    Best parties for D -
    Paint your own ceramics: Definitely a fun one! The girls all loved it and they got to paint something, have it fired in a kiln and take it home. This place had a beautiful party room.
    Beach party: we lucked out one year with a warmer and drier then usual fall. So D had a beach party. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time.
    Tea party: For her 6th birthday D had a tea party. It was so fun. All the girls showed up in their party dresses. I made tea sandwiches and hot chocolate. And I pulled out my great grandma's silver tea set! It was so fun!

    I lucked out that several of D's friend's moms always offered to help out, which was nice.

    I can't think of any of D's parties that weren't good. I do remember at her fifth birthday party (which was in our backyard with games and stuff), some of the girls started fighting over whose turn it was to go on the slide or something and there were definitely tears. It was towards the end of the party and everyone was getting tired and overstimulated.

    For S:

    His birthday was in the late spring, so we were able to do a lot of outdoor things.
    One fun thing we did was a hike during the day at a nearby state park. Then the boys came back and we did a BBQ in our backyard. And then the boys camped out in tents we provided. We also had a fire pit that they used to roast marshmallows. The next morning they bundled up and ate breakfast outside too!

    For S we also did lazer tag, pool party, and a beach party. And we had fun parties at home too!

    Can't remember any bad birthday parties of S's. Well maybe when he was little and all the kids would get cranky towards the end.
    edited January 15
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  • natty1988natty1988 789 replies12 threads Member
    @abasket That scavenger hunt sounds so cool! Sounds like something my D's friend would've done for a party. She always had creative, out of the box parties. Darn, my kids would've loved that, we should've done that! That is too bad about the Pokeman...

    I remember accompanying my kids to fun parties.

    Did you guys ever drop your kids off or stay with them or stay and help out? Did you let the parents stay or drop the kids off? Did you also invite relatives to your kid's parties?
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  • mathmommathmom 32791 replies160 threads Senior Member
    edited January 15
    The worst party I attended was held by a parent whose child was on the autism spectrum. He seemed up for the party ahead of time and he was really into cartooning at the time so she hired a guy to demonstrated cartooning. Unfortunately the kid was having a bad day and refused to come down at all.

    I still remember fondly the Matrix themed party. We greeted the kids at the door with a dish of chocolate covered cherries and blueberries. They had candy shells like M & Ms. The look on the parents' faces when we asked kids if they would like the "red pill" or the "blue pill" was priceless. Everyone got Neo style sunglasses in their goody bag.
    edited January 15
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  • kiddiekiddie 3652 replies224 threads Senior Member
    We tried to mix it up for my daughter's birthday parties. We did do Chuck E Cheese one year when she was very young.

    Some memorable ones were a 50s theme dance party, a party at a glass fusing place, and a ceramics painting one.

    Typically we had small crowds and a mother or two stayed and helped me. We never had family birthday parties (small family who didn't live close).

    We did have a big Christmas party for many years (like over 20 years). It started before we had our daughter and continued until she graduated college. At first it was our friends, then friends with their families, and then just my daughter's friends. Once it became her and her teen-aged friends the big hit was the chocolate fountain (a gift she got one year).
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  • natty1988natty1988 789 replies12 threads Member
    @mathmom oh dear! That's too bad! The cartoonist sounds cool though!

    S would love a matrix party.

    I remember taking the kids to parties that had characters at them. My D's daycare lady's son had a power ranger at his party. D's best friend had Pocahantas. D wanted a character, but I was staying home at the time and H lost his job for a while,so it wasn't in our budget. :(

    I remember when S was in first grade and had just started at the school I worked at. There was one family that was very wealthy and invited the entire grade plus parents to the kid's birthday party. The kid's teacher was also invited. This party was something else. You know the birthday party at the end of Meet The Fockers. Yeah, it was kind of like that. Not only was it the whole grade plus parents. It was all their relatives, friends from outside school, all the parent's friends and co workers. I chatted with a couple who were next door neighbors and another couple where the man had known the kid's dad since high school. We barely saw the birthday boy. Don't even get me started on the buffet...
    Wasn't bad, but I don't know..it seemed large, over the top and not really about the kid.

    D went to some parties in middle and high school where the whole grade was invited and it was at a party room with a DJ. Those sometimes became drama fests..some girl would get upset that some boy wouldn't talk to her..drama over who was and was not invited, etc....
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  • natty1988natty1988 789 replies12 threads Member
    @kiddie We usually had a separate dinner with family for our kid's birthday parties. It was either the week before or after. I liked having separate family and friends functions. That way the kids could enjoy a day with their friends and then enjoy a separate occasion with family. Also, grandma and grandpa don't want to sit there and watch the kids do lazer tag. When the kids were babies and toddlers, we just had family over for a quick dinner on their birthdays.

    D's best friend had a 50's themed party one year. All the girls were so cute in their poodle skirts.

    That xmas party sounds fun!
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  • musicmom1215musicmom1215 2798 replies57 threads Senior Member
    My D (oldest) had more parties than my S. In fact, I only remember one for my S where we went to a local pizza place that had an arcade. He was about 10. I doled out quarters for the boys to play games until their parents picked them up.

    I had two parties in my home. One was probably my D's 6th birthday. OMG. Those kids were bouncing off the walls if every second wasn't "structured." I vowed never again.

    Worst party was the 2nd one at my home (I guess I forgot) and D had a sleepover for her 9th. She invited friends from school, from her after-school care, from a hobby. They didn't all know each other. Plus, I made her invite the little girl across the street that she didn't like because I didn't want the neighbor to get her feelings hurt seeing a party that she wasn't invited to. Big mistake. She kept breaking the other girl's things when they weren't looking (one had brought a keyboard) and it just was not a good mix. One girl (the hobby friend) wanted to go home at midnight so her parents (our friends) came and got her. They lived in a neighboring town about 20 miles away so I felt bad about that. Learned my lesson. Never again.

    After that, I took D and a small group of the same girls out for lunch or dinner and another activity. One year, they got a kick out of the cake where the bakery had misspelled D's name. Runner up to the worst is when we were going to go ice skating at a rink in the city 30 miles away. We got there and the rink was full so we left. Went outside and there was a tow truck at my van because I was parked in a forbidden spot. Talked him out of the tow and went to Chuck-E-Cheese!

    We always (and still try to) had the families over for dinner or at least cake.
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  • FallGirlFallGirl 8207 replies28 threads Senior Member
    Both of our kids had parties at the local bowling alley that went well.

    The worst was D's 5th grade sleepover birthday party. It was the "thing" that year among her friends to have big sleepovers. I thought it would be fine because she regularly had 4-5 friends sleep over. I soon learned that somewhere between 6 and 16 girls it goes over the edge.
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  • HImomHImom 35152 replies396 threads Senior Member
    We never did huge theme parties. S had some tough parties. When he was in preschool, he invited some friends and then climbed up in a tree because he was waiting for one of the girls to come (she never came). Her parents were divorced and absent-minded dad didn’t even remember or think to call and let us know she wasn’t coming after all.

    Other parties we had were more fun and relaxed—lots of family friends, riding bikes and scooters and skateboards at our home and the school and park a block away.

    The kids enjoyed parties at CEC, Ike skating, lazer tag. Even had a few at country club swimming pool. One year, H invited all the boys in the class. One of the boys is definitely on the autism spectrum and hid under the surfboard racks and all the kids helped coax him out.

    When D transferred to new HS, I bought lots of pizza and drinks for her and her friends on her bday so she could share without having to choose whom to invite. It worked out very nicely.
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  • VaBluebirdVaBluebird 3432 replies243 threads Senior Member
    edited January 15
    We had middle son's first grade class here, with various activities and games. Like I went and got endrolls of newspaper paper and set up an art center, balloons, pin the tail on the donkey and bubbles, etc. We ate a real picnic on blankets on the lawn always fun. Then the boys were playing soccer and disturbed a nest of bees or yellow jackets of some sort and there were awful stings to behold. We (my best friend who was an RN was here with us) stripped their shirts off and started applying baking soda compresses and calling parents to see if anyone was deathly allergic and did the parent want us to give some benadryl. Everyone was fine....thank God...... and the parents were absolute angels about it. Every single one just shrugged and said "stuff happens". What a freaking nightmare. But memorable!
    edited January 15
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  • great lakes momgreat lakes mom 3039 replies28 threads Senior Member
    The CEC parties or roller drome party expectations made me a bit crazy, as they were pricey and chaotic. I worked minimally, so could do more homegrown things. For S, for many years we rented the school gym on a Friday evening, ordered pizza and I made an ice cream cake. They played capture the flag and basketball, maybe a pinata, and had a fine time.

    For Ds, with a December birthday, we did typical kids games in the house, pin the tail on the donkey, etc in the very early years. I did some research and found a full round of activities. As they grew older, crafts became the theme. They learned to crochet one year, made gingerbread houses another year or two, origami, and not sure what else.

    My most memorable party nightmare, was leading games at one of the prechool parties when the kitchen was being redone, and the contractor interrupted with crucial immediate questions on outlet placement. Eeeekkk!
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  • JCAmineJCAmine 34 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I absolutely loved planning my kids’ parties. My daughters’ birthdays are a month apart. I knew I couldn’t do back-to-back parties so we alternated each year—one got the party and one got a sleepover or outing with one friend (at one point, around age 7 or 8, each chose an outing with me as their special day, oh my heart!). I would let them come up with a theme, and I would execute, everything in the theme, from food to games to invitations and decorations. We had some weird ones—polka dot, hats. Of course we did the cat party (with kitty litter cake) and horse party (hired someone to show up in our backyard with a pony to ride).

    Worst party was probably d’s 11th. Her birthday is close to Halloween so we did a Halloween party. I hate Halloween. But I went all in. We invited the whole class plus a few friends outside of school. Twenty-one tweens in my house! They all wanted to just run around the finished basement; no one played my games. My d insisted on inviting her teacher, who she loved. The teacher had kids the same age who had been in preschool with my d. So not that weird. But she kept helping me wrangle the kids, and I felt terrible for making her “work” on her weekend off.

    I always preferred when the kids got dropped off. One time, one set of parents (yes, both mom and dad had to come) stayed. Our house was on the market so they asked to walk through the entire house, bedrooms, bathrooms, you name it. This family was also vegan, and I did my best making vegan treats so the girl could enjoy. The parents inspected every single thing I served. Then, while the girls were doing a craft, the mom stood over her daughter’s shoulder and instructed her how to place each thing on her piece of art. Poor kid.
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  • abasketabasket 20241 replies893 threads Senior Member
    ^^^ Wow those parents were bold!

    I'm loving reading these stories and all the creative idea and the snafus.

    I don't think any parents ever offered to stay and help - they just couldn't wait to drop their kids off and get the heck out!

    None of my kids were hugely into sleeping over at other kids parties. They did from time to time but I also got a couple of calls where they just wanted to come home. I knew I had homebodies so I never made them feel they had to suck it up through the night.

    Tea parties, painting ceramics parties, craft parties, yep we did those as well.
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  • sryrstresssryrstress 2567 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I'm super impressed with all the effort and great ideas. I was (and never could be) that mom.

    Bonus points to those who invited the whole class. Our school had a supposedly strict rule that party invites couldn't be passed out at school unless the entire class was invited. The elementary school counselor violated this rule every year!! Crass....really really crass :(
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  • MassmommMassmomm 4098 replies84 threads Senior Member
    Best: a joint party at the fire station my son and one of his classmates. It was fun and informative, including demos.

    A party for my daughter at Sturbridge Village, an 1830s recreational park in MA, in which the kids dressed up in costumes and baked the birthday cake over an open fire.

    The worst: a hellish party at my house in which little monsters ran wild and one of our cats lost a portion of his tail. And no, the responsible brat was never invited back.

    A treasure hunt for my daughter that resulted in an ant infestation, which required an exterminator.
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  • MSU88CHEngMSU88CHEng 238 replies2 threads Junior Member
    It wasn't that bad, but we had a skating party when older son was in 2nd grade and younger son was in kindergarten--their birthdays were 12 days apart so it was a combined party. Both boys play hockey and had been skating since age 3-4. It didn't hit me until party day, but their guest list was their school friends, NOT their hockey friends, and our boys were about the only kids in their classes who skated/played hockey (our school district is JUST outside the 3 districts with big hockey programs--ours has no hockey). My husband spent 2 hours picking kids up and putting them back on their skates. The kids had fun, but it was more stressful than we envisioned for having the party out of the house.

    The best parties were the middle school sleepovers-- ~8 kids, pizza, fries, cake & cookies, then popcorn with movies on the DVD player--one of them had the kids watch the mid-80s War Games movie, hysterical to see the kids puzzling out what an old time modem was! They'd play flashlight tag or hide n seek outside before bedtime, then video game or nerf gun war until they passed out in sleeping bags in our game room...
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  • CIEE83CIEE83 809 replies11 threads Member
    Worst birthday party was one I attended, not one I hosted. It was for a 2-year-old, not someone we knew well, but someone whose kid was in a kiddy music class with our D1. At that age, the parents attended the parties with their kids. This family was much better off than we were; they hired an African drummer as entertainment (unimaginable for me at that point), and house was quite upscale. It turned out it was both a kid and family party, and I hadn’t gotten the memo about the dress code. Family members were all dressed to the nines, and I was in jeans and sneakers. I felt like the riffraff, and D1 didn’t really warm up till the cake was served. She polished off her piece, and then while I was getting our coats, to the great amusement of the family, she started eating the leftover cake that other less gluttonous kids had left on their plates,. I couldn’t wait to escape!
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  • musicmom1215musicmom1215 2798 replies57 threads Senior Member
    Forgot to add to the disaster sleepover, my D loved the movie Hocus Pocus and wanted to watch it, but several of the other girls thought it was scary so we stopped it. I felt like a pretty bad mom for letting my kids watch such "scary" stuff!
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