Birthday Party - a Little Extravagant Maybe

Updated on February 25, 2013
S.K. asks from Plano, TX
20 answers

Hi all,

My son is turning 5 in April. We are trying plan his birthday party and just as we started planning, thinking of ideas, we found out that my husband's grandparents and aunt/uncle are coming into town from out of the country. His grandparents have now told us that they want to pay for his party and that we should spare no expense in planning! We have had the standard birthday parties (gymboree-types, at home, at the local park) but have never really had the opportunity to plan a kid birthday party (or anything for that matter!) where we're not constantly looking at the budget. So I need some suggestions! It seems like this should be a fun project but I'm mostly just stuck.

My son is into pirates, cars and trucks, all the typical stuff. So we want there to be kid activities/entertainment of course but also want the grown-ups to have a nice time, have something yummy to eat (besides kid food), things like that. I don't want to really, really go crazy so its like I'm trying to find a balance between doing something really nice that they will be really proud of, without spending too, too, too much of their money. If that makes sense.

So let the ideas roll, please! Place ideas, food ideas, entertainment/activities ideas...I need it all! What would you do if you were planning a 5 year old party under these circumstances?

One specific thing for those who live in my area (Dallas, TX area) - venue ideas, a place we can rent and decorate ourselves, invite entertainment and bring in food.

Thanks in advance for all the awesome ideas I know are about to start flowing! :)

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answers from Chicago on

I would keep it simple because he's only five. Expand the type of food and maybe hire a face painting - balloon maker dressed like a pirate. Even if they say spare no expense - they could easily come back and say - I didn't mean that much. :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I hate it when somoene tells me to spare no expense (not that that happens very often). It makes me feel like no matter what I do, it won't be enough. Besides, I was raised to be frugal, and I look for the best deal by reflex. .
A five-year-old is not going to enjoy an over-the-top party. He's going to be over-stimualted and get cranky. Keep it simple. If you want real food in addition to cake and ice cream, order pizzas or sandwiches, crudites, and fruit.
If he likes pirates, maybe decorate the house in a pirate theme, and see if you can rent an inflatable bouncy thingy in the shape of a pirate ship. Decorate the cake in a pirate theme. Invite kids to come in pirate costumes. If you are one who does the goodie bag bit, put an eye patch, some chocoalte coins, and a bag of Pirate's Booty popcorn in each one.

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answers from Albuquerque on

Even with all the money in the world, it's still a birthday party for a five year old and his friends, so I can't really think of anything all that extravagant. Hire a simple caterer to provide yummy food for adults and kids, get your house professionally cleaned, and hire a magician or someone who brings a petting zoo.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I'm with the others. I wouldn't go crazy. For one thing, the other parents will hate you after their kids want the same thing for their parties: "But Joey had a magician, face painter AND ponies at his party!" For another, he's only five.

As far as venue, ask your son if he has any preferences. He's likely been to a number of parties and may have his own ideas of what he'd like.

Splurge on the food for the adults, if you want to splurge. Get a good restaurant to cater. The adults will appreciate good food at the party. Most kids are thrilled with pizza.

Have fun!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Shoot me for saying this, I wouldnt allow someone to do this.
I would have the same kind of birthday you have for him every year, and if your family is insisting on giving you money, I would put it in a bank account for him, or have them donate it to a charity in my sons name.
Hes not getting married, hes turning 5.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

very 1st thought: stick to a budget. Don't go overboard, because then you'll feel obligated to match it in subsequent years. Just saying....:)

That said, I vote for the pirate theme with a treasure hunt.

Or have the party at a Nascar-themed go-kart track. They usually have party packages.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I'm in the process of planning a party for my soon to be 5 year old, and we're doing a simple party at home this year, the last 3 parties were at chuck e cheese, monkey joe's (bouncy houses) and build a bear.... this year we're doing a pirate theme, and the kidlets are going to follow a treasure map to a treasure chest pinata.... not even sure on the food or anything else, but honestly, it's a kiddie party, so the adults will be fine eating kiddie fare. If you want to, take the in laws out for a nice dinner afterwards.

I can't see doing anything differently just because someone else is paying for it. I would still plan as if the money had to come from my pocket.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Just because they have offered to pay for the party doesn't mean you should go hog wild. I would pick the kind you would normally do and go with that. You can do a pirate party like we did and have some games and food and then send the kids home and visit with your inlaws.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

There are a dozen reasons I wouldn't do it. It is no longer your party. What will he expect when he turns six? I want my kids to know we love them but that they don't get everything they want, even on their birthday. There are more reasons, but I know that's not what you're asking. But I can't give good ideas for overindulgent parties because I already think we as a society send children the absolute wrong message about expectations and entitlement.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

So as far as getting do-dads for the party, I suggest this:
They have GREAT things, especially the personalized items. My friend orders from here all the time, it is GOOD quality and not just junkie throw away goody bags. We still have the personalized luggage tags, that we got from her kids parties and the placemats.
And, they have great kid themes for parties.

As far as going all out, the bottom line is, doing a party that your son, will like. Which means, you do not have to invite the entire town. Only his friends. And foods he likes. It is his, party.

And per activities, well for my son's 6th b-day party, we had treasure hunt games and prizes, egg on a spoon relay races, guessing how much items is in a jar type thing and the winner could take home the jar of goodies, obstacle course races, etc.
Just Google Search "5 year old birthday games."
Or, pin the tail on the donkey type things.

For us here in Hawaii, well we get lots of local type dishes, take out style from our favorite restaurants. And they make it in larger sized foil pans, to accommodate the size of the party. Then we just order ahead, pick it up, and then bring it to the party, set up, put table cloths on the tables etc, get theme oriented paper plates/cups/utensils. And had the party at a park, nearby. My son and his friends, had a BLAST. It was held at a park that also had a great hiking trail. And we brought my son's bike, and all the boys had fun riding it. And all the parents (who we told they could stay) and the kids, had TONS of fun. It was outdoors. Which active boys enjoy. Not at some arcade place.
And it was nice for the adults too, because it was at a nice park, outdoors and relaxing.

And as far as timing of the party, make it for lunch. Like 11:00-2:00. Or, 10:30am to 1:30. That is what we did for my son's b-day party.
And believe me, the time flies!

The bottom line is: have a party that your son, wants. It does not have to be complicated or "expensive" like an adult would think.
Or if anything, you can also hire a Balloon Artist to come and make balloon animals for the kids. Some parents here, do that.

Oh and of course, order his B-Day cake from somewhere like Costco or your local grocery store.
And get cool helium balloons and streamers and decorate the place.

Or another idea is: in my city, our local Zoo, does parties too. Which young kids enjoy. So maybe look into that. If the Zoo is nearby you.
I don't think anyone would want to travel an hour, just to go to a party. For example.

Then per invitations: my advice is to send it out, in advance. Not last minute. Here, we typically send it out like about 3 weeks ahead. Families are busy. They need to plan their calendar. AND make a clear RSVP in the invitation and deadline, saying to RSVP if they can or cannot attend. And put a phone number and, e-mail contact in the invitation.
And, so that you don't get uninvited people turning up at the party, state CLEARLY in the invitation something like "Johnny and 1 parent is invited to Max's 5th Birthday Party..." That way, the invited KNOWS, that ONLY their 1 child and ONE parent, is invited. (not their entire family and friends). And state in the invitation if.... the parent is allowed to stay or if it is a drop-off party.

AND most important, have an idea, of how many you want to invite. Keep it sane. Remember, the head count is: the invited child, and/or, plus their ONE parent.

Going all out, does not necessarily mean "expensive."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would definitely have a fabulous birthday cake. Not only can it be decorated to your specifications and taste extra delicious, it's the centerpiece for your gathering. My son is six and He has gotten so excited every year in the planning of what his will look like. If he thinks it's cool - so will his pals. They always stop to look and oooo and ahhhh over it.

If you don't know of anyone to do this for you, I can give you the name and number of my baker/artist ( that sounds so fancy, but, we aren't fancy or over-the-top people, we just like yummy cake!). I also have some pics I can share with you if you'd like.



answers from Los Angeles on

I recently went to a pirate themed party where the kids went on a "treasure" hunt" to find the things that were to go in their goodie bags. The kids loved it. And bounce houses are always popular with the kids.



answers from Chicago on

I am not familiar with that area, nor do I know what space you have.

if there is a blow up pirate ship you could rent? like one of those jumpy ones?
If there is a pirate cruise ship in the area you could have the party there? ( I am near chicago, so there is one at navy peir).

I am not used to spending a ton of money on kids partys. But any hall could be decorated with the pirate theme. Have people come dressed like pirates (at least the kids) .. put on a pirate them show/performance by the kids.

Hope that helps.



answers from San Francisco on

You could rent some sort of venue and invite LOTS of kids. Have a treasure chest of costumes for the kids to pick out to wear and take home. Hire his favorite cartoon chacters or pirates for entertainment. Have two tables set up with food - one kid-friendly, the other more for adult taste. Decorate the heck out of the venue and the dining tables.

As for games, maybe you could do like a little treasure hunt where each clue leads you to the next until you find the prize. Maybe have two or three groups or teams of kids, each with their own set of clues. Whichever team gets to the prize first, wins the prize.

Have fun planning and an even better time at the party!



answers from Seattle on

It depends on the inlaws.

I have friends who would be insulted if anything less than a mini circus on the pier, private night at the zoo, etc was arranged. ((Families come both from money AND cultures where extravagance is expected not Ou in showing live but to help fund the local economy. Fantasias with performers, fireworks, banquets, etc. are a respectable MUST. To do anything less is insulting on many levels.

I have friends who offer to pay, thinking a normal "spare no expense" kids party is $300 (about right at a venue).

I have friends thinking a normal kids "spare no expense" party is $50 at a playground.

So... It would really depend on what "spare no expense" means.

Nothing below 25k? 50k? 100k?
(I just went to a bar mitzvah that was over 100k JUST for the venue, Quinceneras involving flying 50 people to Disneyworld, and some of the birthday Fantasias Ive been to boggle the mind. Think sitting under the trapeze to dine during Cirque du Soleil, and strawberries studded with diamonds).

Nothing above $500 / $300 / $150?

Nothing above $50?

What culture and definition are we talking, here?



answers from Sacramento on

I would do as you normally do but with maybe a better cake and goodie bags or added entertainment like a face painter or magician. Just because they said "spare no expenses", do you really know what they mean by that? In an older generation, that could mean something very different from what you interpret it to mean. You could come off looking very greedy.

And since it will be lots of family, an at-home birthday with a fun theme would be nice, but again nothing hugely expensive. Good food and cake, some type of entertainment, a few theme decorations, and goodie bags.



answers from Kansas City on

One year for my oldest son, I hired a clown to come in and do entertainment. He did a show in my living room, and it was so awesome. Of course he made a big deal out of my son and had him be the center of attention, but he also included a lot of the other people that came, and everyone was involved. It was a lot of fun. Have fun planning your party, I'm sure it will be a memory maker!!



answers from Dallas on

This is what we did at home for my son’s Pirate party

-The first activity was for the kids to do a craft. They decorated a pirate ship with stickers. (I got it from oriental trading company along with most of the items below.)

We then ate, all of the food was sea related (hotdog octopi, ...) Pinterest and the web have many ideas.

-My sister then read the kids a pirate book. Explained what pirates did and pard of the ship.

-We had a scavenger hunt. Below is what my brother in law put together to give the clues. The parents had as much fun watching as the kids did.

Ahoy! Go to the front of the ship to the cabin on the right, out to the top of the mountain and remove to top layer of dirt to uncover your next treasure. (spy glass and hook)

Shiver me timbers! Now that ye have your spy glass or hook, go up, up to the deck and look out to the island. Swim across the ocean until ye get to the land and find my secret pirate lair. Go into the furthest part of the cave and uncover my secret book. Once this old book has been cracked open ye will find me next treasure!! (Jewels)

Handsomely mate… or maybe lad, or lassie, or lass. It is ye time to move forward! Immediately make ye way to the cap’n’s quarters, but before ye stay too long to chat with the Sea dog, move toward the eatery, where grub and rum abound, mate! Pass the white sail to the mysterious silver square… before you pull the handle be sure to lookout for pillagers, pull down the door and ye will find the next treasure… (bandanas in the oven)

Keep a lookout, mates! For the next treasure awaits. Gangway toward the fore, but move handsomely and carefully to avoid any flogging, pass the cap’n’s quarters and scurry on over to the base of the stairway to heaven, where ye will find an ominous and old box of treasure maps, that is where ye mates will find the next treasure! Godspeed! (eye patches)

Maties! If ye cannot find this next treasure ye will be fed to the fish, so fair winds my friends! Coming from where X marks the spot, make ye way past the stairway to heaven, past the cap’n’s quarters, moving toward the east (right) toward a jollyboat leather chest where ye will find the next treasure! (swords)

Arrggghhhh ye maties and landlubber’s… listen closely, this is ye’s most dangerous journey yet! For it will take you up the stairway to heaven, where ye will pass the waves, but stay out of Davy Jones’ locker because dead men tell no tales. Blige, on with the mission! Aft the waves, ye will… wait, sink me! Is that a cave on ye horizon? Yes, indeed, mates and landlubber’s! Look ahead, toward the cave, where ye will see a treasure chest the must be pillaged and opened to find the treasure inside! (treasure chest piñata)

-As they came down from down stairs, my husband met them with a sword and made them all walk the plank for stealing his treasure.

-The kids then had a cannon ball fight from one ship to the other. The one who made the most cannons onto the other teams ship won. (I got black duck tape and wrapped plastic bags so they were light weight.

The invitation stated, "Come in your pirate wear if you dare!" So, all of my family was dresses in pirate attire and those who did not got bandanas, ect. from the treasure hunt. I ordered my pirate invitations form



answers from Dallas on

We would love to host his party! Adventure Day Camps on Lake Grapevine - we can offer archery, a scavenger hunt, obstacle course, and outdoor games at Meadowmere Park on Lake Grapevine. Families have loved our parties and camps for 10 years. Check out our website -



answers from Tyler on

One of our friends had a 5 year old boy birthday party with a pirate them in the park. They cooked out burgers for everyone and had a "ship" pinata and then they also had a bounce house for the kids. The adults had a great time doing the cookout and the kids were entertained with the bounce house. They also gave out "goody bags" with the eye patch and little "pirate swords", so the kids all had a great time being pirates.

(and my child is a girl and she had a great time with all of this too and there were some older kids there as well that loved it).

Good luck,

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