Am I Crazy Aka Birthday Planning

Updated on February 28, 2012
C.K. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
18 answers

Hello ladies,

For my daughter’s first four birthdays, we did parties at our home. We combined friends and family and we both really enjoy having all of our loved ones together.

This year, her preschool class is much larger and she has ~7 kids she would like to invite to her party. I want to include these children because most of our friend base is outside our school district and I want her to develop friendships in our district.

Many of our friends have been in our lives since my daughter’s birth, and are like extended family to us.

With a mid-April birthday in SW PA, the weather is a crapshoot – her first two birthdays were beautiful and the parties were outside, the second two were cool and rainy and needed to be inside.

Although I have a pretty decent-sized house, we were pretty much at capacity last year, so I can’t imagine another 7 kids plus potential parents.

I have considered a party at a party location, but I am hating the idea for the following reasons:
• I honestly don’t know if I could even get a place this late.
• They are all two hour limits. Parties I have been to at such venues feel rushed and part of the party time is spent cleaning & packing up.
• The themes are limited to what they offer and we usually have a custom theme (it’s just how I was raised and something we enjoy doing)
• They are pricey, usually limited to 10 kids and with a higher guest list, I will incur additional charges.
• I still have to pay for cake.
• My family with kids will have to attend two parties
• Daughter wants her “friends who are like family” at her home party (and so do I), and I can’t ask them to do two parties.

I could do two parties at our home on two different days, but it doesn’t resolve the last two points above.

So, I am seriously considering (God help me) two parties on the same day. Having a kids party from 1-3 with all of her preschool kids, and a family party from 4:30-whenever with the family, and the “friends who are like family” can hang throughout. The downside is the clean-up, resetting of the house between the two. I still have to do two cakes and two meals, but I am thinking that the pizza for the kids party will probably be cheaper than what I way pay for a location party.

I am sure my parents will help out with picking up food for the second party, so that will minimize the strain.

Am I crazy for even considering this? Anyone have any other suggestions (other than to endorse the location party idea?)

I set myself a personal deadline for March 1 to make the decision so I can start planning.



EDIT: Just to be clear - we are only inviting the kids with whom my daughter has a friendship - the school does not require that all kids are invited and most of the parents are not inviting the whole class. I cannot afford a party for the whole class and my daughter has not been invited to everyone's party. That said, I also HATE Chuck E Cheese - what a horrible birthday experience a big cattle call and why even bother having a party with friends because everyone scatters to play. We have been to two this year and my daughter spent literally 15 minutes (in total between the two parties) with anyone from the party outside of eating time.

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answers from Dallas on

My friend does this every year with both of her kids (once in Feb and again in Aug). She does the party stuff with the kids and then later the family enjoys the left over cake when they come over. She does not do two cakes. The first few parties she has small smash cakes made so the kids could blow out candles in front of family, but they have even stopped doing she just announces that it's time to sing. It seems to be a happy medium. The only "issue" that comes up is that some of us wind up spending most of the day at her house. The kids get invited for the kid party and they want to come and do the fun stuff and then we get extended a dinner invitation since we are very close to the family. So a few of us wind up there they whole day, but we are having fun, so it's no biggie. Dinner is always something cheap and easy. Last week it was chicken fajtas and last year they did hot dogs. Some people brought sides. So, you are a bit more ambitious than most, but not crazy. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

A friend of mine did something similar, but she simplified it even more. She had the friend party from 1-3:30 with no lunch served, just veggies, fruit, and chips and then the family came starting at 2:30, so it kind of overlapped. She served cake at 3, before the friends went home, and then had dinner for the family members. It really worked out pretty well, much better than she thought it would.

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answers from Dallas on

It sounds liek the easiest would be to do the two on the same day. Like you said your friends would help you straighetn up for the second one. That would be less stressful I would think than trying to get them on two different days and stretch out the stress!!!!

Good Luck and God Bless!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

One of my SIL did just what you are thinking of doing, and it worked well for her. I did not work well for us family members, who came to the 2nd party, and had "leftovers", that was kind of gross. So I think it is a good idea in general, just be careful about the food part. And if your parents will be there to lend a hand with help and food, that's all the better reason to go for it. Just make sure you are organized the week of the party so you don't go crazy.

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answers from Portland on

I would do the 2 parties on the same day, but don't serve food to the first one. Make sure the invites say that light snacks will be served, or just cake and ice cream. 1 is after lunch time so its not a big deal, and then the people who stay for the second part can have dinner. This will save you a lot of work and time. The other option would be to do it a place that is not actually a set "party" like McDonalds. You can all meet, have cake, ice cream, and play in the playland for as long as you like. I know that we have stayed for 5+ hours before without any problems. Or, have the kids party at McDonalds type place and then "continue"the party at your house.

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answers from San Francisco on

I love doing at home, themed parties too :)
One year we had an unexpected rainstorm, and I was freaking out because my planned activities we're supposed to be set up outside. So I ended up parking the cars on the street, doing a quick sweep of the garage and setting up the activities in the garage, including hanging the pinata from a crossbeam! It wasn't the party I envisioned, but it was memorable and fun.
I don't know if this advice helps you or not, but I thought I'd mention it because I think having two parties would be pretty stressful. Maybe when the preschool parents RSVP you could encourage them to drop off their children and go run a few errands. I personally hated it when the parents hung around, I always felt like I had to entertain them, and it was always awkward, ugh :(

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answers from Washington DC on

We do 2 parties. So far, out of 30+ parties, only one has been not in the home.

This is how I do it.
1. The family party is on their birthday. If you can make it great, if you can't, that's okay.
2. The friend party is on the weekend day closest to their birthday.

On invitations for family with kids, I put both dates. Its understood that they are welcome to attend one or both parties. Their call. Most decide to attend the friends party.

Another trick I've used is timing. I have planned both parties for the same day. Friends party from 2 - 4 pm, with a family party for dinner. This one was lots of fun and people filtered in and out all day.

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answers from Sharon on

I agree with you on so many levels! We did have two parties on the same day last year for my daughter who was turning 5. We had the kids come first and the family/friends come a little later. We did things a little backwards. When everyone was there we did cake, then a little later, after kids left we did food (a meal.) It was different, but fun. We just did snack food with the kids. They eat so little, I figured a meal for them wasn't worth it. I always do a craft and/or related games to our theme and try to match snack to it as well. That's usually enough. I kept it very laid back and my daughter made it through the day great. We all had fun! Hope that helps! I love planning our girls parties, themes, food, games, etc. I think it makes it really fun and memorable! Wish I could do it for a job!

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answers from Washington DC on

we are actually doing this on Saturday! My daughter is turning 7. She invited all the girls in her class for a tea (pink lemonade) party at our house. I'm doing sandwiches, fruit kabobs, pretzels, cake, and marshmallow pops! This party starts at 12pm and pick up time is around 2:30. THEN at 5pm all the family is coming over for round 2! Except we are meeting here at the house and then just going out for pizza. Everyone will still come over after for a while though because our family lives about an hour away, so I expect them to leave around 10pm ish.
If having 2 parties in 1 day works for you, I say do it! It's saving me 2 stressful weekends and I can get it all done in 1 day and then be done! I don't have to think about it again until my sons birthday in July.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Is there any reason you have to do a family party? Growing up I always a party with my friends. I could have cared less at that age about family coming. If there were cousins my age in the area they came. Otherwise it was always friends!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Basic wisdom, and expert advice dictates the same number of children at a child's party as their age, however, very few of us go with that logic, lol ; )

Do yourself a favor and have both parties at home on the same day, decorating once and enlisting family members attending both to assist you in setting up, and serve food at only the latter party. You DON'T have to do two cakes ~ either get a cake big enough for both parties or do cupcakes, serving ice cream cups with them at the first party ~ I make themed "cupcake cakes" that simply pull apart cupcake by cupcake, no plates necessary so clean up is truly a breeze. Check the internet for oodles of ideas for every theme imaginable.

My guy is only going to be 3 this April, but the last two parties have been over the top (as far as I was concerned) because auntie wanted to pay for a bounce house for the first one and an amusement park for the second one and invite tons of people. So for this year's festivities I decided we are going to tone it down cost and stress wise and 1) go to Chuck E Cheese (I'm NOT doing a party package) early in the morning (they open at 9 a.m. on Saturdays) and let the kids play to their hearts content a couple of hours and just buy tokens and drinks, then 2) grab some pizzas at Costco and take them to a nearby park for lunch, cupcakes and gift opening, then lastly, 3) go to a local Children's Museum that has free admission that day (courtesy of Target which sponsors this the first Saturday of each month) from 1 - 5 p.m.

Whomever cares to be at Chuck E Cheese, the park, or the museum is welcome, I know everyone may not desire or be able to participate in all three, and I want the day to be as relaxed as possible. The relatives and friends with kids I've run this by are as enthusiastic about it as I am : )

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Good grief. Have a party for her whole preschool class and then on some other day have one for close friends and family. Of course grandma and grandpa may want to do both but so what?

I think you are way over thinking this. Have the kids party at a place like Chuck E Cheese where there is not set up. You show up, the kids go crazy and play with their tokens, mom and dad take lots of pictures for the scrap books, pizza comes, kids eat, presents are opened, kids go home, mom and dad go home with no dishes to do, tables to wash, spills on the flooring to clean, etc....they are way more fun that way.

If additional parents or kids show up they pay for their own stuff. That's it, just tell them you are inviting X child, if others come they pay for their own food and tokens.

Have a wonderful theme party for the kid at home with just the ones you want. No kids from school, that would be too odd. They are not close friends or family. Keep the 2 groups separated for now.

Addressing the preschool issue. Do not invite anyone if you are not going to invite everyone. That is just hurtful and not nice. There will be at least one kid who goes home crying every day wanting to know why you don't like him. Of course space at home is limited, that's why we have kid parties at places.

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answers from Denver on

Wow - you are a brave M.. No way I would try to do two birthday parties in one day. I say have the one birthday party - invite everyone (even if it is cramped) and call it a day.

We have a small house (!600 sq ft) and did a birthday party here one year and we had over 30 people - it was tight but it wasn't the end of the world. If you luck out with the weather you can open up the porch or whatever and let everyone mingle outside too. It's only a few hours of your day.


answers from Austin on

You can set the perameters for your party. State who the caperones are (invite a couple of teachers) and say NO PARENTS. If the parents don't go for it--they won't come.



answers from Cleveland on

I enjoy home parties too,
But as a guest i feel very very uncomfortable at mixed parties with tons of family and stangers that i don't know around my young chlldren. If my kids are invited to a bday, i expect that it will be just kids from school, not pappy joe and great aunt foofoo and twenty five counsins ranging in age from 18 yo with attitudes to 8 mo olds crawling around. i'm sure other people do have those kinds of parties, but I personally would choose to skip if i'm in that situation.

I think the best solution was what you suggested about kids early in the afternoon and the majority of family later in the day. If your friends are there i don't see a big deal about prep or clean up inbetween. Use paper plates, maybe cupcakes would be easier than a big cake, you could still decorate them cutely. have a few activites for the early party and just relax with the later on. Our family parties are more about dessert and the bdkid opening their gifts than any sort of party games or big fuss. If possible have a friend or aunt take your kids and the extra like family kids out for a walk or a drive or put a short movie in so the kids can recharge inbetween. As long as you have a designated kid person in between you should have time to do what ever you need to to get ready for round 2.

omg, while i was typing others responded. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT Invite some teachers AND expect them to Chaperone!!! WHAT???? As a former preschool teacher i would be so burned if you put me in that position. UNACCEPTABLE

If food is your concern order some easy pizza for the kid party and you could do something different like sloppy joes or lasanga for the family party, just have it ready ahead of time and just pop it in the crock pot or oven. simple salad and some chips/bread and you are good to go


answers from Philadelphia on

why cant the family kids be at the second party on the second day and not with the school friends? She'll probably be to distracted by the day to hang with everyone if they're all there at once and if theyre coming at seperate times isnt that the same as a seperate day? I'd do a fun party for the kids at the school and J. a bbq for family the next day if you cant hve both crowds at once...either that or a simple chuckie cheese party or similar where you only provide snacks and cake in the day 9-noon and then a party at your home at 3?


answers from Minneapolis on

I have a going to be 5 year old, in which I just booked her party at Pump It Up. I had been mulling it over, only cause, like you I didn't know exactly how to handle it. Her birthday actually is a mid-week day. Its not possible to have her birthday on her birthday, so we are picking a mutually beneficial day to coincide with her little sisters b-day which is 10 days earlier than hers (2 years junior thankfully). I am inviting 5 of her classmates and 6 family friends with young kids and babies as well.We have a large family with older kids, on my side. The youngest is an 8 year old. So this is something they may want to do or not. Teens are not known for being into the bouncy house theme, but its not for them lol. There are a few of my family I know will not want to be submersed in pre-schooler, chaotic, screaming, wildness. So I am going to have a small get together after party hours in my home. One of my neighbors is going to sit at the house and allow early guests in. I am letting everyone know, and inviting everyone that we want too to the Pump it up place, then on the invitation there will be instructions as to if they want to come afterwards for a big people get together, they are welcome. However, I am not going overboard in feeding these people, they will most likely get pizza from the party, and a tray of this or that and beverages. I dont think anyone would expect me to put on a huge spread after just coming from a wicked kids party lol. Thats just me though. I plan to call everyone that I can think of first. Just to explain so no confusion, but I am sure some one will get left out or offended. Happens every year.



answers from Detroit on

I guess I'm surprised at the responses. I would be concerned about the child's ability to last the entire day. Maybe it is just the four-year-old syndrome, but every party I have attended for a child that age had a meltdown. Consider how much you child can handle.

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