Dad gives daughter a gift at preschool birthday party in the park with friends.

Five Stress-free Birthday Party Ideas

Kids’ birthday parties are a lot of fun, but they can also bring a lot of stress for parents. Mounting costs and expectations have taken party planning from fun to frantic, especially when your child is still an infant or toddler!

The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way! If you’re planning a birthday party for your child, take a step back and a deep breath. We asked parents to share a few ideas for stress-free party plans that the whole family will enjoy.

Celebrate Over a Meal
What better way to bring family and friends together than around the dinner table? Forget fancy three-course meals and inordinate decorations. Keep it simple with take-out from your child’s favorite restaurant or a few pizzas from the local pizza parlor. Add cake and balloons, and you’re all set for a great party!

“For our daughter’s third birthday, we had a brunch party at our house. We try to focus on the celebration itself. With family, friends and good food (and cake of course!), people aren’t as focused on the decorations or how picture-perfect the affair is. Plus, you can really enjoy the day.” – Ellie, mom of one

Make Friends with Your Community “Makers”
Think of the things your child is interested in. Who in the community can help explore those interests and create a fun atmosphere? Maybe your child loves helping out in the kitchen. Reach out to a local bakery and see if they’d be interested in hosting a party or leading the children in baking cookies or cupcakes. Or perhaps your child is interested in drawing or painting. Consider having a local artist or art teacher host the group and lead them in a painting project. Allowing a local maker to lead the show can lead to some fun, educational experiences — and take a lot of pressure off of you!

“We love parties that help our kids explore their hobbies and interests. Lots of local business owners are willing to participate in a party for children – it builds community and they get to share knowledge with the younger generation! Then, you can polish it off with an easy catered meal and cake at home.” – Brian, dad of two

Movie Night at Home
Let your child pick out a couple of their favorite movies and invite friends and family over for a viewing party at home. Whether it’s outside on the front lawn or inside in the living room, movie nights make for entertaining, memorable parties, and you won’t have to plan entertainment. Plus, there’s no easier party food than popcorn.

“For my son’s last birthday, we kept it simple and set up the TV and watched a movie at home! Just clear out the family room and have everyone bring sleeping bags, pillows and blankets! If you’re braver than me, you can even make it a sleepover, too.” – Traci, mom of two

Build a Birthday Fort
Instead of fixating on the picture-perfect decorated party venue, create a fun-filled play area for the children to explore. Using pillows and blankets or empty cardboard boxes and other accessible materials, work with your child to build and decorate an indoor (or outdoor) fort. Let your child’s imagination roam, and use the set-up time to bond and create a space that’s fun without being perfectly polished.

“We moved into a new house a couple weeks before our daughter’s third birthday and had a ton of leftover moving boxes. So, for her birthday party, we got out the tape and built a big box fort, complete with tunnels that meandered through the rooms of our house for the kids to crawl through. It was a big hit for the kids to have this imaginative play area, and it was essentially cost-free!” – Rob, dad of two

Throw a Joint Party
If your child has a close friend or relative with a birthday that falls around theirs, consider planning a joint birthday party for the children. By pooling together your time and resources, you’ll have less on your plate and may be able to accomplish more than you could on your own. Plus, when it comes to kids’ birthday parties, more people can mean more fun!

“I highly recommend planning a joint birthday party with another family at a local event space with easy entertainment like faux-firemen, princesses and fun activities. Many kids have the same friend groups, and by splitting the costs of a local venue, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up your whole house once the party is over.” – Eric, dad of three

Remember, birthdays are a time to celebrate major milestones in your child’s life. So focus on them and what they’ll remember most: spending time with the people they love and having fun with their friends.

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