Mum 2 Mum: The Lowdown on Kids Birthday Parties

What is Mum 2 Mum? Mum 2 Mum is a place where as online friends we can share a little of our own experiences, so why not pop in for a cuppa and join the conversation.

As we spend today preparing for tomorrow’s invasion of 12 little people for that rite of passage that is a three year old girl’s fairy themed birthday party, I thought I would ask your thoughts on children’s birthday parties…

Do your children have a party every year? Do you prefer parties at home or outsourcing to party venues? Do you invite the whole class or prefer smaller, more intimate celebrations? Do you do themes? Do you love or loathe the preparation and anticipation? Do you make the cake yourself????

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. For the last two years we have invited two friends (who do have sibling that come, making it now six little people and 3 mamas). We do a craft, have a lunch and cake, and then… Used Book Exchange! Instead of gifts we all bring books we either want to pass on, or have found at a used book store. We spend less then $7. And then the kids pick the ones they want. Everyone goes home with something, and we don’t end up with gifts I really don’t feel we need. The idea was that everyone brought one book to trade, but now we just bring several!

  2. For the first few years of my youngest’s, we had her party somewhere else because our house was much too tiny, our favorite was the park. The kids could run themselves silly, we could grill or have sandwiches. I have made cake or bought depending on how I felt (I bought a cake when I was pregnant, and bought an ice cream cake because that’s what she wanted) I love baking so that’s what I’m doing from now on, also I have family members that have gluten allergies, so I can control that. I don’t think a child needs something huge and elaborate to celebrate, I never had that and I was ok with it as long as I was acknowledged to be the greatest for that day. We will be having more people over this year for my oldest since she’ll be 5, and at our house since we have moved to a much bigger house. I don’t mind presents since we don’t buy them presents very often so birthdays and Christmas is the only time they really get new stuff. I also don’t like the idea of sending favors home that are candy. I did flowers one year, books another and nothing another.

  3. We have always had home based or at a lovely park/beach. We have also only ever had small gathering so that my guys never became overwhelmed or received an abundance of presents they didn’t need. They have really appreciated the personal approach and still at 12 just want a few friends a home….there are so many invites during the year to make up for the large party experience.

  4. I think my favourite parties are the ones have held for Annie at a local indoor sports centre.

    We can invite the whole class, which is helpful when you have a child with aspergers who does not make particular friends.

    The girls have had parties annually because we combine the family party with the friends party. However now they are both in school I’ve set the rule they can only have a party every second year.

    We’ve done home made cake, themed cakes from the bakery and basically at the end of the day the cake ends up barely eaten because the kids have filled up on party food. So now I go with an inexpensive cake – $5 mud cake from Safeway/Woolworths does the job – with a toy stuck on top 🙂

    Party bags are a problem, I enjoy making them but I don’t like filling them with junk food/lollies etc. I also have a dislike of cheap plastic toys. Thus you see my problem. We’ve given the ‘All Cats Have Aspergers’ book at one party, Lego bags were fun too although expensive. So far the cookie bags ( have been popular and inexpensive so I think I will stick with those from now on.

  5. I must say my opinion on kids parties varies. My eldest daughter is born in August, and school is out for the summer…so we avoid the need to invite the entire class. However, my younger daughter is a February baby, prime school party date. This year I asked my 5 year old if we could have a party with just family and a few family friends (no one from school) and she was fine with that…so was I. You can read all about my “Cupcake-fest” at my blog I do love a good theme! Hope your party goes well…and you survive the flurry of kids!! Have fun!

  6. I LOVE giving my kids homemade birthday parties, I love all the prep and always go with a theme and a homemade cake. I involve the kids in the decisions on theme, games and food, and as much of the prep as they want to join in with.
    So far my kids have had a party every second year.
    We always keep numbers low, just friends that they talk about and play with…although my daughters birthday in grade 1 she wanted to invite all but 3 girls in her class so we ended up inviting all the girls as I couldn’t bear the thought of just 3 girls being left out, we ended up with 12 girls. I found that first year of school is such a social year before they settle into their smaller friend groups.
    Her next party at 8 she had just her 2 closest friends for a sleepover, and then at 10 she had 4 friends for an afternoon craft party.
    My son had a party last year for his 6th birthday and invited 6 friends.

  7. We do birthday party’s either when they ask or for special age birthday’s. SO far both boys have had First Birthday party’s attended by family and friends. Our oldest turned 4 last year and he asked to catch the ferry with his friends so we did this and had a simple picnic lunch at the park after. I make the birthday cakes. I have had one party at playcentre for my stepson’s 4th birthday and it was so full on and overwhelming it ended with many tears and tiredness. We wouldn’t have paid for it, but my brother won it at a baby expo. We always have cake and a family dinner. Our group of friends prefers the simpler party ideas such as, all guests bring a toy for a toy swap instead of party bags. I’ve seen some wonderful ideas and had great fun at all inclusive park parties.

  8. Last year was the first year that Amy chose who she wanted to invite to her 4th birthday party, prior to that we have just invited family and friends. I have made a cake for each birthday for my girls, its something I really enjoy and so its not a hassle at all! We only did party bags last year as well, some lollies but mostly little craft items. This year Amy turns 5 and its her last year before school so I imagine we will have a lowkey party this year as well. I am looking forward to the school parties, I think its a good chance to have a theme, keep it simple and focus on the things that children like, food, games and fun!

    1. I would love to know what you put into your party bags, I am always on the lookout for good ideas which aren’t sweet things 🙂

  9. Our daughter’s birthday is in October when the weather can be a bit iffy for outdoor parties. I don’t enjoy theme prep and all the planning involved, so we “outsourced” to the bouncing place. It was perfect for the big crowd of her classmates, but next year I plan to downsize and possibly have a smaller party at home. We might even skip the party completely and replace it with a family trip to somewhere fun like Legoland.

  10. For the past 14 years I have thrown home parties for all of my 4 children. About 6 years into the party planning extravaganza I started creating the cakes. I love the planning, the preparing, and the actual party. I also enjoy the after party glow (yummy leftover treats, semi-clean house underneath the wrapping paper, and new gifts to occupy the birthday child). Tomorrow we are having a Sonic the Hedgehog for my baby who turned six today. The cake is in the fridge, the games are planned, and the house is almost ready. Last year we had a Buzz Lightyear Party ( As the children are getting older they are sometimes opting for a larger gift instead of a party so I know my days are numbered as a kid’s party planner. I think old-fashioned home parties are fun and memorable. Have a great time tomorrow!

  11. I have 1 daughter now 8 and this is what we have done:

    1 yo – naming day with family and friends in our garden with each person planting a bulb or flower in a special garden plot.
    2 yo – messy play (dough, slime, mud, sand, water etc) outside in the garden with several mums group friends and family.
    3yo – indoor play venue that organised everything.
    4yo – themed mermaid party with 6 friends. (a very cool party)
    5yo – pool party with pizza
    6yo – sleep over party with 6 friends (sheer madness)
    7yo – swimming with dolphins and water park with mama and daddy.

    The home parties were so much nicer for her (and her friends) than organised parties. MUCH more work for me. I have had no more than 8 (usually 6) other children from her class. This way the uninvited children in class are part of the majority.

    Have loads of fun at your little girls party 🙂 Hard work but such special memories 🙂

  12. Not sure how often we will do parties. We usually do something with family at least but the third b’day has been the bigger one so far. (That must mean we have one to do this year!!) We do everything from decorations to cake, food to invitations. It’s a HUGE amount of work but love the the party and everything that goes with it while it takes place. There is a definite love/hate relationship while creating the birthday cakes but I am so happy when they are done. Lovely memories <3

  13. Missy Boo says:

    We have had a party for all 5 years! I think if I had more than one child, I would have alternating years for a party. 1st b’day was at a park, 2nd b’day combined with my niece – party was at my parents with lots of relatives, 3rd b’day was in a hotel in Abu Dhabi and party 2 was organised by the fairy godmother, 4th b’day party we went with 22 kids to a petting farm, and the 5th birthday was at home with a fairy!
    We are lucky to have only 8 girls in Boo’s school class and this is very unlikely to change, so I am guaranteed of around 10 kids being the max from now on! Boo is in charge of the theme and we look froward to preparing together.
    I always make an ambitious cake except I destroyed the 1st b’day cake, and the 3rd b’day cake was made by the hotel.
    After the last party at home, I think we will be trying hard to avoid parties at home in the future 😉

  14. Thinking back over the years both my daughters 4th birthday parties were at home and both were huge success.

    Annie had a pink party and we made different shades of pink paint (using red and white paints) and set up big cardboard boxes in the backyard for the kids to paint with a variety of painting tools – brushes, rollers, stampers. It was sooooooooooo messy, took ages (i’m talking months) for the paints to wash off the pavers. Also massive job cleaning all the kids up afterwards.

    For Heidi we did the butterfly themed party with water play (january birthday), it was messy too but because it was just water the kids dried off pretty quick in the January sun 🙂

    1. I love the painting party idea, I think that might just work for our #4 too 🙂

      Marita, can you please let me know if you receive an email to say that I replied to your comment? Hoping this plugin works!

      1. Some things to note for the painting party.

        – make sure you note on the invitation that it will be messy and children should wear appropriate clothing and that they may need a change of clothes to wear home.
        – have spare clothes on hand for those children that come dressed in their best party frocks.
        – make sure you have a spot ready to help kids clean up and some parent helpers on hand, we had kids in the bathtub and the shower and all my towels got used 😀

        It was super fun and the children still talk about it.

  15. We had the first real kids party at 4 (beforehand it was just friends and family). It was an old-fashioned at home party, with only four other kids, party games, party food and party bags. The best think I did was have a craft set up when the kids arrived – a brown paper bag (the type with handles) for each child to decorate with farm animal stickers (there was a farm theme), crayons and textas. These bags were later filled with some craft materials, a finger puppet and a freddo frog for them to take home. Doots loved it – the small group was perfect for her and I’ll never forget the look on her face when everyone sang Happy Birthday to her – sheer happiness!

    Hope it all went well for Immy yesterday xx

  16. I grew up in a family where birthdays are always a big deal and always celebrated. My son will be 18 this year and we have all kinds of different parties over the years, at home, at venues, and from the time he was old enough to chose I allowed him to chose. He has had a “kid party” for his friends during the day on his birthday (always on his birthday proper) and then in the evening we have extended family and close family friends come over for dinner and cake. Being that I was a preschool teacher up until he was 9 planning parties at my home was on problem for me and I really enjoyed them.

    1st – backyard BBQ with mom & dad’s family & friends
    2nd – backyard party with 10 toddlers, crafts, home made cupcakes & ice cream (I was a preschool teacher at the time)
    3rd – Big Bird entertainment at our backyard party, with games, homemade cake & ice cream for probably about 14-16 preschoolers (still a preschool teacher)
    4th – Pirate themed backyard party (new play structure in they yard), games, crafts, store bought cake, ice cream about 14-16 preschoolers.
    5th – Wet’n Wild backyard party (kiddie pools, slip’n slid, squirt guns, homemade cup cakes and ice cream and only 12 friends (no sibs as in previous years).
    K-11th: Once he started school he’d have a friend party with about 12-14 of his friends some from the neighborhood, some close family friends he’s grown up with and some friends from school. We never invited the entire class. He’s had parties at the bowling alley, paint ball, laser tag, at the pool club, he’s had bounce houses, at a gymnastic club, a rock climbing party, those are just a few I can remember off the top of my head. since he’s turned 10 he’s usually preferred to just have a few over at the same time we are having the extended family BBQ party. I enjoyed all of them as long as he had a memorable day. I think what he’ll remember most is not a specific birthday, but that his birthdays always were special with many friends and family members who took time out of their busy lives to spend time with him and acknowledge him, and while some of the guests (friends) have changed over the years many of his friends have been consistent and I think that’s very special. He has friends he invites each year that he might only see a couple times a year because they have moved, go to different schools, etc… but he still considers them important friends and wants to share his birthday with them. Some of these boys have been coming to parties since they were 2 years old and time nor distance has diminished there friendship.

  17. Book marking this page! We are having a birthday party for my son this year, his first where friends are invited. The only issue we have is our number 2 baby is due on his birthday! That means lots of pre-planning, wonderful help from Grandparents, and outsourcing some things like making the cake.

  18. we only outsourced one year and that year we held a joint party for our girls who were turning 5 & 8, we outsourced because we were 1. in the middle of breaking up and 2. as a result of 1. trying to move house/pack everything up. all other parties have been at home with about 3 invited guests – although often siblings have meant 4 or 5 invited guests, I’ve stuck with this for 17 years now – my youngest will be 3 on Monday and on Sunday we are having a party that will run like this:

    11.30 arrive, settle in & play (dress up, role play, colour in party hats)
    12.15 party food
    1pm paint a plate (local pottery cafe does a deal where you can take home 6 bisque plates, 5 paints, a pile of brushes & some palette tiles, you paint & then return to the shop where they fire it and have it ready in about 3 days(works out at £6per child))
    1.30/1.45 pass the parcel and time to head home.

    she’s invited 3 friends. our best friend will also come with her 2 boys so that’s 5 invitees plus my two little ones (birthday girl & 5yr old)

    if i do a party bag it will include some homemade playdoh, a homemade dressing up item (maybe a mask or a hat) and some stickers – if i’m feeling brave it’ll include a bag of mini cookies – or maybe i’ll make a batch of mini cookies?

    all the girls birthdays have been fairly similar until the age of sleepovers (which varies with each child), when we reach sleepover time it’s
    pizza or similar + a film + homemade plain popcorn
    lots of giggling
    off to bed
    some more giggling
    sneak down for a midnight feast (my girls know what they can & cannot raid)
    more giggling
    lie in followed by either a cooked breakfast or brioche & croisants
    only 3 friends to be invited

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