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children's parties

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
ok, this sounds wierd- and this thread probably doesnt belong in the sf...

my lovely 3 yr old daughter never had a real birthday party to her name. the 1st 2 years we just had a small gathering with her cousins at my in-law's house, while the 3rd bday we just went to an amusement park. her 4th bday is coming up very early next year and i know she wants a bday party.

thing is, my wife is kind of "not as interested" as i am, and i did promise my little girl that she wil have a party. also, i am very wary of spending so much for a party, like what i see other folks do. i just want a small party of her friends, plus of course our leeches, i mean relatives and close friends. but i also want it to be memorable and fun for my little girl.

do you gentlemen have any suggestions? all those kiddie party websites confuse the bejesus out of me, and i really cant see myself reading those oprah/martha type magazines. thanks!
post #2 of 14
well, most of the kid parties i've been to have been just a bunch of people getting together and having food and drinks, kindof like a big people's party. in fact it doubles as an adult party with all the parents involved. we get drunk, the kids get high on sugar.

however, my favorites have been when we paint t-shirts. the littlest kids can participate too. you can do hand prints, or regular painting, or the best one i've done: fish prints. just like the traditional japanese art form: take a fish, slather it with paint, and press the shirt on it...voila. fish on a shirt. you can get t-shirts and fabric paint for cheap, or even cheaper: make people bring their own t-shirts. having the handmade keepsake makes it so much more memorable.

i guess it varies according to the kid, but as long as there's cake and a few other festive things like maybe hats and balloons, our kids are pretty happy just to run around and scream with the other kids.

/andrew
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks, andrew. but FISH slathered with paint?! i guess it IS different in the bay area!
post #4 of 14
I am a vetran of a few kids parties. my observations:

1. the obsolute best are those that occupy the kids for 2 hours in a fun and tiring activity, while letting the parents sit around and drink. in a situation where the parents all know each other, and the kids get along well, this is really the perfect situation.

2. typically, you have an activity, which can be a craft or a physical activity, food, entertainment and something to take home. I hate the ones that have a craft, because then the parent needs to help, and it can be messy, and it doesn't tire the kids out. the best activity is something that you won't do on your own - a bouncy castle, a pony, a fantastic climing structure.

3. food is simple - pizza and cake. I have never seen an attmept at another food that was successful. get pizzas for the adults, or maybe sandwhiches. juice for the kids, beer and pop for the parents. maybe fruit.

4. entertainment - best I have seen is a magic show, clowns are nice. average is just somebody leading the group in singing or dancing. I was at one with really good dancing for the kids, but you need somebody who knows how to chose the right music that 3 year olds will like.

5. take home - those bags can be expensive. we ordered stuff from a place called orientaltrading.com and put together bags for about 5 bucks. you want a toy and something edible, and a cute container.

6. either invite the whole class, or just a handful. don't invite half the class and not half the class. not nice, the kids talk. I usually invite the class, then 2 or 3 friends from outside of school, and the kids of 2 or 3 of my friends.

7. 25 bucks a head, anyway you slice it

8. if your kid does any specific extra curriculars, soccer, karate, music, gymnastics, you can bet your ass that the school does parties. they use them as a way to try to recruit other kids "isn't this fun!?! tell your parents you want to come every week!!" on the other hand, it is a chance for your kid to show their friends something that they are probrably good at, that the friends don't know.

9. stay away from chucky cheese. very noisy, and kids under 5 will need help.
post #5 of 14
Globe's recommendations are excellent.
Just another idea (which she might be a tad young for): we had a Bring Your Own Bike birthday party. It was my son's idea, but he left us to fill it with content. We had it in a park - each kid brought his own bike/tricycles. The games and art were around the bike theme (decorating the bike, competing, getting medals). You can ask the local police to come and talk about safety. The kids drove to the Pinata (sp?). And the most important thing - the parents just sat around, ate and drank while the kids had fun.
Everybody loved it.
post #6 of 14
Episode 78 of the Dick Van Dyke show, deals with this very issue. In this case, Laura wants to throw Richie's birthday party at a local amusement part; Rob objects. Arguments ensue. In the end, Rob ends up entertaining the party guests, along with Buddy and Sally's help. Wasn't easy, but they got through it. Very funny.

I Love Lucy deals with this issue, as well . . . Lucy and Carolyn compete to see who can give which child, the more spectacular birthday party. Lucy wins, of course . . . George Reeves shows up to Little Ricky's shinding, as Superman.

Any party is a dynamic task, to accomplish, whether in honor of a child, a teen ager, or an adult. It's never easy.
post #7 of 14
It's fall here so I would have the little buggers do yard work while the adults are drinking. No cake until all the leaves are raked and piled! That'll tire them out.
post #8 of 14
Just listened to a voicemail from a friend telling me this Saturday's birthday party for his 3 year old little girl was cancelled (we had not accepted yet). He and his wife had a talk and realized they were just doing it because it seemed to be what everybody else was doing. Instead, they decided to celebrate as a family, no guests.
post #9 of 14
At 3 years old, I think my son's birthday party was at a place called MyGym or WeePlay which are both simply large places with trampolines, balls, slides, rock climbing walls, organized activities etc. There are usually two teenage "counselors", they lead the kids in the activities and games, there is a lot of running around and they also served the cake/pizza/soda to the kids. It's about two hours and we were all in for under $500 for 15-17 kids. Don't know how that number sounds to you. My son just turned 8 this summer and you don't want to know the cost of a "theme" party for an 8 year old and his classmates and teammates from little league
post #10 of 14
With a 4-year old of my own, I've thrown and been to lots of such parties. The one constant at the parties that seems to go over well is a moon bounce. We rent them from a company called astrojump - I think they are nationwide. Price is much cheaper than you'd expect -- about $170 for 4 hours. Other "shows" we've done that have been fun have been a balloon artist and a caricature artist. The kids loved the balloon guy and the parents loved the caricature artist. We found them both through a local party business/company. Another constant for the age is a pinata filled with candy. We always get them from www.birthdayexpress.com (a great website). Both boys and girls seem to like them alot. I've been to a couple parties where there's been a painting portion, and they've worked well too, but there are always some kids of this age who would rather be out running around (unless the party is indoors I suppose). Another party had each kid, at the party's beginning, make his or her own gigantic chocolate chip cookie, where they each took turns mixing the flour, sugar, chips, etc., and towards the end, the cookies came out of the oven and each kid got a candle in his cookie to blow out (but the birthday girl got elaborate birthday candles). That worked well in that case because the party was entirely indoors. Finally, I've been to a few parties with a magician or a pirate or Elmo, and the kids who aren't scared by him/her seem to enjoy it, but the parents aren't too impressed (mostly because it's an activity that parents feel they have to be quiet and watch -- they can't socialize amongst themselves as they can with lots of other activities).

Personally, I think the parties are good for kids socially, and I like getting to know parents of my kids' classmates. I also like having beer for parents, though only about 1/3 of such parties have it.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by EL72
It's fall here so I would have the little buggers do yard work while the adults are drinking. No cake until all the leaves are raked and piled! That'll tire them out.


that could work!!
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks, gentlemen. i figure getting some kind of entertainment is necessary- like a magician or a puppet show or a stripper. good god! i think this will cost me around 1 ww chan suit, 5 jantzen shirts, probably 2 santoni fam's, and some pocket squares!
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by acidicboy
thanks, gentlemen. i figure getting some kind of entertainment is necessary- like a magician or a puppet show or a stripper. good god! i think this will cost me around 1 ww chan suit, 5 jantzen shirts, probably 2 santoni fam's, and some pocket squares!

1. the fish: i'm not making this up! the japanese have an art form called gyotaku:


2. the stripper: reminds me somehow of the episode of Cheers, where Frasier takes his son to a Nanny Gee concert - turns out she's his ex-wife. comes to the bar and serenades him with a suggestive rendition of "The first time ever i saw your face".
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by edmorel
At 3 years old, I think my son's birthday party was at a place called MyGym or WeePlay which are both simply large places with trampolines, balls, slides, rock climbing walls, organized activities etc. There are usually two teenage "counselors", they lead the kids in the activities and games, there is a lot of running around and they also served the cake/pizza/soda to the kids. It's about two hours and we were all in for under $500 for 15-17 kids. Don't know how that number sounds to you. My son just turned 8 this summer and you don't want to know the cost of a "theme" party for an 8 year old and his classmates and teammates from little league

We just did the same thing for my 2 year old daughter this summer. The price was still in that ballpark. The biggest benefit to us was the party wasn't in our house, so we didn't have dozens of 2 yr olds running wild around the house. All of the kids seemed to really enjoy it from 1 yr old to 9 yrs old there was something for everyone to do.
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