31 answers

Birthday Party Times/lunch?

I am starting to think about the party for my sons' birthdays in October. They will be 2 and 5. Because our family's calendars seem to be filling up fast, I hope to go ahead and plan a date/time. I am going to have the party at an inflatable place, and they schedule their parties starting at 9:15 in the am (for 2 hour time slots) with new parties starting every 45 minutes throughout the day. (They rotate through 3 rooms). Because of my parents' schedules, I really need to have the party in the morning. So here are my questions: What is your opinion about a party as early as 9:15? Is that too early? The next time slot is 10:00, but since that one would be 10-12, I feel like I would need to serve lunch. I'm already spending enough on the place that I'd rather not have to do that. But I guess my next question is, would you expect lunch? And if so, would you expect the parents to eat, too? The party would be for about 25 kids, so that's a lot of pizza, even with the $5 Little Caesar's variety. :) I'm guessing I'm going to end up sucking it up and feeding everyone at the 10-12 slot, but I just thought I'd get some thoughts before I make the final decision.

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So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your responses. As I figured, most of the rest of you agree that birthday parties have become a ridiculous affair these days. I think I'll follow your advice and go with the 10-12 slot. Thanks for "letting me off the hook" for lunch. That will make my life a lot easier. :)

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We have several children and would not expect lunch to be served unless the party was scheduled for 11:00 through 12:30 slots. If we were invited to a party that ended at noon, we would go out for lunch afterwards. Anything that was scheduled between 2 - 5, we also wouldn't expect food .. just cake. You might also indicate on the invitations ... Cake and Juice to be served! This would be a way of telling me that the kids wouldn't have anything else and that I should feed them before or after if I know they'll be hungry.

I wouldn't feel like 9:15 would be too early, depending on how far everyone lives from the party. I'd be the same way about lunch, it's a touchy subject but you could probaly get away away with just cake and ice cream at the 10-12 slot...

I would not expect to be fed (or my child) if we went to a party from 10-12, especially if there will be cake or snacks. Cake in the a.m. may be too much, how about mini muffins or granola bars and juice boxes or fruit served midway through the party?

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Do not go into debt for your child's birthday party. 10 to 12 is before lunchtime. If you serve cake & ice cream, or cake alone and have drinks for those thirsty children and some bottled water available for parents that's plenty! Parents may want their child to have a healthy lunch after cake in the morning. In your invitation you may say cake & ice cream served at.....such & such time, so no one is surprised that there is no other food. It is such a rush to get set up & be prepared to clean up so quickly in that time frame, there's really no time for any other food.

You might contact a local restaurant and see if they offer coupons for a kids meal you could put into their goody bag. Parents would appreciate that one and so would the kids.

You need to be in the moment and enjoy your children's celebration of their birth and not stressed out over too much $$ being spent. Assign some other family/friends to take candid photos of the event so that you can watch your children enjoy their day!

And congratulations, Mom!

Personally, T., I don't see why a lunch would be expected or necessary with the party ending at noon! Everyone can eat when they go home. Any later and you would be required to serve something. Why must it be pizzas? Is that offered by the inflatables place? Why not something less expensive such as tuna sandwiches for adults and peanut-butter/jelly for the little ones! Sounds yummy to me. Good Luck.

We have several children and would not expect lunch to be served unless the party was scheduled for 11:00 through 12:30 slots. If we were invited to a party that ended at noon, we would go out for lunch afterwards. Anything that was scheduled between 2 - 5, we also wouldn't expect food .. just cake. You might also indicate on the invitations ... Cake and Juice to be served! This would be a way of telling me that the kids wouldn't have anything else and that I should feed them before or after if I know they'll be hungry.

When we have parties I just specify what we'll be doing. For example my baby's baptism, I put on the invite we'd serve light refreshments. My son's first birthday party I put we'd serve lunch and cake.
If you don't want to provide lunch, just word the invite something like Please join us for John and James birthday party at JumpZone. After play, we'll have cake and punch. Its a simple way to indicate you won't be serving a full meal and people will be on their own for lunch.

I would say, no, don't feed anyone lunch! I bet around 11:30 people would be ready to go and eat on their own anyway! I don't think it's unreasonable not to have lunch. People are spending ridiculous amounts on birthday parties these days, and if you don't want to, then don't! If you had it from 11-1, then people would expect lunch. I just don't think you should be pressured to do what you don't want to do.

That sounds totally overwhelming to me. I think 9:15 is a bit early and 10 would be better. I seem to get a little overwhelmed at birthday time also since mine are 3 years apart but their bdays are only 3 days apart. What I finally figured out is that either I have less kids come and I can feed them food and cake etc or if I want more kids to come then I let people know I will be having cake and cupcakes. Parents don't care and the kids are busy playing kids is a lot of kids! anyway so they don't seem to notice either. the party ending at noon seems to leave plenty of time for parents to take their kids to lunch after the party. I personally would not take all of that on as it takes some of the fun out of it. I would not expect lunch as a I would eat a snack before we came and then I would go home or go out to eat lunch. It is not your job to entertain everyone, feed them cake and lunch as well. That is my opinion after much guilt induced parties that I spent too much and felt overwhelmed when really no one cared anyway.

hope that helps!

I would go with the 10. I am not a morning person, so unless our sons were best friends, I would not attend the 9am one. As far as lunch goes, I never expect more than cake and ice cream at a birthday party unless the invitation states otherwise. Especially with it ending at noon. It isn't your job to supply lunch. Although I would go with small portions on the cake b/c of it being mid morning.

I would not expect to be fed (or my child) if we went to a party from 10-12, especially if there will be cake or snacks. Cake in the a.m. may be too much, how about mini muffins or granola bars and juice boxes or fruit served midway through the party?

I have a 3 year old boy and have been to several birthday parties lately, two being at inflatable places. First of all, I think the 9:15 time is great. All of us with young kids know that we are up before 8:00am anyways. As for the 10 - 12 time and lunch,I would not expect lunch at a birthday party for little kids at an inflatable place. Maybe if it went 11 - 1. You could just give little packets of goldfish or something with the cake. All of us parents know how much it costs to have a party at the inflatable places too:)

You may want to change your mind!! STAY AWAY FROM INFLATABLES!!
My two year old went to a party with an inflatable. I WAS RIGHT BY THE THING. So were the other mothers. There were only 4 kids in the CONTRAPTION and they were being VERY CALM just walking around. I turned my head for 2 SECONDS and WAHAMMO! my daughter started SCREAMING!! Something happened and she got hit in the head. She had a big red mark by her eye, after she calmed down I thought everything was fine. After the party we went to a store to return a shirt and then... SPACECASE! She couldn't follow me through the store. She didn't even want to buy a toy. She walked really slowly, and asked me to BUY A BABY. WEIRD!! I rushed her to the hospital and they confirmed that she had a CONCUSSION!!!

The doctor told me that since they opened the Pump it up, and started setting those things up at local parties, CONCUSSIONS IN SMALL CHILDREN HAD TRIPLED!!!


I think 9:15 would be pushing it a little, although my son is up well before then and ALWAYS has been (he's 7), my daughter can definately sleep in (she's 4). I would not have a problem getting them to a party by 10. It is actually nice to go to parties in the morning have the rest of the day for your family and whatever needs to be done. I feed my kids before parties and tell them not to expect food, unless it specifies on the invitation! I think those places have a spot to mark on invitations whether there will be cake & ice cream or pizza too, etc... Do not feel bad, they should feed their kid breakfast, then they can take them to lunch or home for lunch and a nap.

Having the party at 10-12 does not mean you MUST serve lunch. My solution to this would be to put an announcement on the invitations that if anyone is interested in joining you and the birthday boys for lunch at their own expense following the party, you will be taking them to... and choose a family oriented location that has a special something for the birthday boys. By doing it this way, grandparents and your best friend alike may join you, but do not feel obligated.

My in laws were so relieved when I did a party this way because by the end of the 2 hour party at the amusement park, they were exhausted! They opted to join us for lunch, but it was a place we could all sit- and have our food brought to us!

The most important thing to remember about this party is that it is just a get together for a bunch of little kids. You do not have to impress anyone but the birthday boys!

I think we have all have begun to overdo the birthday party, including myself. I think the 10-12 time is great but I also don't think the 9:15 is that bad either. Look at this way, we all go to work at 8 or school at 8, and church by 9 so why not 9:15. On top of that, the kids aren't going to be interesting in eating anything more than cake anyway regardless of the pizza especially at that age. I say skip the pizza and just to the cake and ice cream. I just had a party this past weekend from 3-5 which probably interfered with dinner but everything went very smoothly. Best of Luck and have fun

I can never understand why some parents these days seem to think young kids need elaborate birthday parties! I think it's a waste of time and money. New parties every 45 minutes? Are you nuts?! Just have a few of their friends over for cake and ice cream and a few simple games. (My daughter used old tires and boards to make an obstacle coarse for the kids. They loved it!) Give them a little goody bag when they leave, and they will have had a good time! My kids never had the fancy parties, and they remember having a great time at their parties! The two year old especially doesn't need a fancy party. Next week he will have forgotten all about it anyway!

As for having the party at 9:15 in the morning, I wouldn't! To me, that is way too early, especially if it is to be on a weekend. People like to sleep in on the weekends.

Sorry if I seem harsh, but this is a subject that gets me going! Good luck with your parties.

What about doing a picnic/sack lunch thing. On the invites say something like "Bring a sack lunch and picnic with us " or B.Y.O.L.-(bring your own lunch). Do you know if the facility has a place where you could do that? Plus if they bring there own lunch you wont have to worry about pleasing everyone. You could even make the invites on a lunch sack have them bring the lunch in the sack when they come . You could buy Halloween printed sacks at Micheals crafts. That would be really cute.
If I got an invite like that I would not be offended at all. Especially since I am a parent and I realize b-day parties etc. are exspensive. Other then that you do not need to feed the kids. The party will be over at lunchtime...12:00.


I think that 9:15 is a great time. Its early the inflatable place won't be too crowded and your guests have the rest of their Saturday with their family. The only problem I could see with the 9:15 is if there is a long drive time. Where I live the closest Inflatable place is about 45 min away. I would not attend a party at 9:15 with a 45 min drive time. If you do decice to go with the 10:00 do not worry about lunch just serve cake and what not. If the party was 11:00 -1:00 then I would say yes do lunch or even 12:00 - 2:00 but not 10:00-12:00. Enjoy the party the kids will be too busy to eat anyway

Do not feel obligated to serve lunch to anyone. I have been to parties that stated on the invite to eat before you come and cake would be served at the party. Simply state on your invites that cake will be served. That should be enough to let the parents know not to expect anything beyond a good sugar high for their kids.

Initially 9:15 does sound early. However, that would leave the rest of the day open and no one should have to worry about kiddos missing naps. Also, anyone who has thrown a child's birthday party ought to be understanding enough.

Actaully we have one of those here and my sons and i went to a birthday party there and 9:15 is a great time because they play for the first hour. My sons had a great time just stress to people they need to bring socks. All the kids were thirsty when they got in the room for the cake and they had capri suns sitting on the table for the kids, and served pop also. They had snacks like individaul pringles chips and i cant remember what else. The kids didn't really eat because they were so hyped up from playing and the excitment of the party. Then they served the cake and opened presents.
I would have it at the 9:15 slot and not worry about having pizza.
Have a great party

I would not serve lunch if it going broke the family also if you do why must you buy pizza. Take a slow cooker with you full of hot dogs or something you can make on the cheep. also if you have a early party how about graham crackers and milk or some other kind of breakfast food which is often cheeper then the later meals.

9:15 is too early. I wouldn't expect food if I was attending a party from 10-12. My thought would be after the party I can feed my child lunch. Parents of children that young, 2 & 5, usually stay at parties with their children and therefore if there is food they will eat as well (even if you don't want them to or hadn't planned for them to do so). Last year my son went to a laser tag party that ended at 12:30 and they just served cake and ice cream. I didn't think twice about them not offering lunch.

9:15 is not too early. All day Sat and Sunday afternoons are all acceptable times for a party. BUT I would not expect my kid to be fed at a party from 10 - 12. If the party were from 11 - 1 (including the noon hour) I would think it included lunch. The obvious way to clarify this is to make it clear on the invitation. "Pizza and cake served" or just "Cake and ice cream served". If you are using the preprinted invites from the inflatable place (and I think you have to for the releases) they probably have a place to mark Pizza or No Pizza.

One other consideration - are family traveling from out of town for this party? When we have cousins, grandparents, etc... drive in for parties I do feel like I should feed them. Sometimes we have a separate meal back at the house. Sometimes it is just easier to feed the whole party.

I wouldn't feel like 9:15 would be too early, depending on how far everyone lives from the party. I'd be the same way about lunch, it's a touchy subject but you could probaly get away away with just cake and ice cream at the 10-12 slot...

If you do end up feeding that many you may want to look into one of the party platters at Subway. We did this and it was a lot cheaper. We also went to dolar tree and loaded up on the juice boxes and then Wal Mart for the chips. It ended up being much cheaper than pizza. You could also make up a bunch of finger sandwhiches yourself and that would be even cheaper. The kids probably won't even eat at that time if there is cake too.

9:15am is perfect........the last 3 parties my daughter was invited to at the inflated place was a 9:15, and then 2 in the afternoon, the early one was absolutely the best. It was the coolest in the morning, because of all the running around you do it gets hot and we had the rest of the day together, without a middle of the day party to have to attend! All we had each time was drinks and cupcakes or cake. I vote as early as possible!

I think a 9:15 party is definitely a little early. If you do the 10-12 party I would not expect you to serve lunch seeing as though I'm sure there will be cake and ice cream and with the party getting over at noon the parents will have enough time to get their children lunch after the party is over. However if you do decide to do pizza, I would definitely only serve the children since the party is atually for the kids. I'm sure the jump place will have a concession stand where the parents can get themselves a snack if they choose to. Being a parent myself and having been to many birthday parties I can tell you that I have never expected to be included in the menu for the kids, I have always just gone to the concession or snack machine if I got hungry. Look at it this way, if you were having the party at McDonalds you would only be getting food for the kids, not the parents.

I think either time slot is fine, just because you have the full 2 hours you don't have to use it all. You will need some time to set up and get settled in before and half an hour to pack up gifts and stuff after. If you take the 9:15 slot the party could be from 9:30 to 10:30/10:45. That gives you 15 minutes before and half an hour after. Same goes with the 10am. I would not feed lunch. You could have your immed. family stay after and have lunch if you wanted to extend their visit.

And yes, if you were feeding the kids the parents would expect to be fed too. My BF takes all her kids to every party and then stays. She feeds her other kids and herself if food is offered.

Schedule the party for the time that is most convenient for you - you're the one doing the work and paying for it.

If you decide to go with the 10-12 timeslot, don't worry about lunch. Put on the invite that cake and ice cream will be served. If people come expecting more than that, their loack of reading comprehension is to blame, not your hospitality. As for the parents expecting to be fed, adults should be mature enough not to expect to be fed or entertained at a kid's party. When my daughter was young, and was invited to parties at places like Chuck E Cheese, if I was hungry, I paid for my own food. I figured the parents of the birthday child had enough to worry about without trying to feed me as well.

a friend of mine actually did a party just like this a few months ago. I believe it was 10-12, which I think is a perfect time, and there was no lunch. I wasn't expecting it since I'm sure the cost of the party was rather expensive and she got tons of cake for everyone. I don't think people would expect lunch, and if they do, then too bad for them. I did my daughter's party recently from 10-12 also. We didn't do lunch and I didn't hear anything from the other moms on the subject. I hope the party goes well for you!

I think either one of those times is fine. I would just put on the invitation that cake and drinks will be served and people will not expect lunch. It would be different if you were having a party 11-1 or 4-6. I have done a lot of October parties 10-12 and just served cake,snacks, and drinks. (I have 2 boys with October birthdays!)

Happy Planning!

Hi T.,
Really either time is just fine. The kids are going to want to play not eat, don't worry about lunch! It has been my experience that the cake eating and opening presents is a long enough time away from the activities! Have fun! ~K. H.

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