Driving Self Crazy with Child's B-day Party

Updated on July 13, 2013
V.S. asks from Coatesville, PA
15 answers

Wondering if anyone can give me some advice - we are trying to plan a party for my son who is turning 5 y/o. He would like to have it at our house so that he can play party games (parachute, etc.) and decorate the house. At first he wanted it at a bounce place, but when I told him no b/c it was too expensive for us right now he then got excited about having it at the house. Now I am wondering, maybe we should have just done the bouncing place - my concerns - will kids this age still enjoy and want to play party games? Will it be hard to direct them? If it is excessively hot or raining, they will need to be inside and that might be tough? How do you know how many parents will be staying to entertain also? Has anyone recently done an at home party for this age group and how did it turn out? It seems like kids today are just used to going to facilities and enjoying a "canned" party for two hours. Any input is appreciated. TY

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answers from Chicago on

The cheapest and best party we did was at a park. We rented the pavilion for only $50 and there was playground equipment and a splash pad nearby. We didn't even need to entertain! We had brought games to play but the kids just played on the equipment themselves. We had grilled hotdogs and chips for lunch and birthday cupcakes. Cleanup was just throwing everything in the trash.

We did house parties, and those end up expensive if you consider the cost of the food, then you have to clean before AND after the party. Kids are messy! We rented a bounce house, which was a big hit and perfect, but it still was $150 for the rental, plus the food. So $250 and you're still stuck with the cleanup!

We recently did a skating party. It was GREAT in that we didn't have to do a thing, they did everything. It did cost us $200 though.

The party at the park was the cheapest and easiest. Yes, you are dependent on the weather though, that's the only thing. I will say we didn't need to entertain and cleanup was a breeze!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from New York on

I personally am driving myself bats, nuts, and bonkers planning my son's 7th birthday party, also at home. So I feel your pain.

One thing I do NOT think is that 5-year-olds are too old for traditional party games. I mean, 5 is really young. If they're too old then, that's sad.

In my own experience, I haven't had much trouble directing the kids. I have had my husband and my mom on hand as backup, and that helps a lot. I've also found that if you have a game going at the outset, they'll expect you to lead the whole thing. What gets hard is if you let them run around randomly and then try to pull them together for something structured.

A few random activities that have been popular at my house are:

Freeze tag
"Fishing" for lollipops (sort of complicated to explain, but let me know if you want details)
Relay race / obstacle course through the sprinkler
Dress up (this year, my brother is going to take the kids' pictures w/ his portable printer & they'll get to decorate their own foam picture frames)
Scavenger hunt. This is consistently THE most popular activity at my son's parties. And turning 5 is great year for it, since they'll just be able to sound out basic words like "table" and "chair."

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Why don't you buy a big sprinkler and let them run in it for a 1/2 an hour. Then have some food. Then do a craft. Then cake and then home.

It's easy to feed the kids and you can make some food for the adults.

Any kid under 8 would love this.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

It's so easy to please 5 year olds...and don't worry about entertaining adults! Just have the kids do some things that you think they will enjoy and then serve cake. Let them just run around together. Get a pinata and do that in the backyard. Have a couple games (egg race, pin the tail on the donkey, etc). Pass the present is really fun. You have them sit in a circle and you have some small gifts all wrapped up pretty. They pass the present around while the music is playing. When the music stops the person left holding the present is out. You continue till the last person left is the one who gets the present. You can have the kids decorate their own cupcakes. Or they can do a craft. You can get a bubble blowing machine. I think home birthday parties are the best!

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answers from Boise on

Kids will adjust and make fun out of almost anything at that age. It's parents who feel like every hour needs to be filled with an activity. Sad cause it's set's them up later down the road.

Some of the best parties we have had, have been ones that were done at home. Fun party games, google is your friend for that, and just good clean fun.

If it's going to be hot, think of fun outside water games, what kid doesn't like water? Just in case it does rain, have some movies on hand and some indoor games that can be played.

As for parents, that varies greatly, at age 5 most parents drop and go but not all which is fine. They know they are going to a kids party and aren't looking to be entertained. I try to have coffee on hand and a few more grown up snacks but I don't go out of my way for the adults.

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answers from Raleigh on

I did a party for my son at our home for his 4 year birthday. I did rent a big bounce house, so that gave them something to do outside. Luckily the weather was HOT but nice.
One thing you can do that kids this age will love is to do a slip-n-slide party. Slip-n-slides are cheap to buy, and kids LOVE them. They will keep themselves entertained without all the preplanned party games and such. If you wanted to do a game, I would do a scavenger hunt or something like that. Something that keeps them outside. Combine that with icy pops or one of those sno-cone machines that you can get pretty cheap, and it will be a hit!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Most parents will drop off if he already did kindergarden. I google party games for ideas but also allow open play...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi! I have an 11 year old and an almost 6 year old (July 17)! I have done house parties -we are doing a backyard small one this saturday- and I've done Gymboree & Pump It Up. I regret doing Gymboree and Pump It Up because I could have spent that $400 on better things for my sons birthday. Then I still had to buy food, decorations and the gift! Plus I don't like the two hour limit, I feel rushed. Aren't 5 year olds are all about games! I'm doing Corn on the Cob eating contest (half an ear), Water Balloon Toss and Face Painting (found @ Blick inspired by Kohl's Childrens Museum) and a Pinata which the candy doubles as the kids' goody bags! Then the good old musical chairs, freeze dance, or simon says are options as well. My party is at 3 o'clock, hopefully after the hottest part of the day. My other son has a winter birthday (we're always stuck inside) so I'm loving the option of having it in my backyard for free! I feel like I always overcompensate so I'm trying not to. Hope this helped :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My son's 5th birthday party is in a couple of weeks. At that age, I expect all the parents to stay but I don't expect to entertain them. We've had both home parties and location parties. This year is in a park with a splash pad. Another friend did a 5th party in her backyard a couple months ago and got a bounce house and pizzas. Don't stress too much. If you want to do it at the house, just do it. Provide some toys to play with and they'll be just fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I'm having my daughter and son's combined 6th and 4th birthday party in August - usually super hot! This will be at our house which isn't that big, but we are still planning on there being 25-30 people there if everyone comes and parents stay (which most are our close friends so I assume they will).

The kids really love the idea of a slumber/pajama party. I found Spongebob Squarepants decor on sale at Dollar General - score! So we are having a Spongebob Squarepants Pajama party! The kids are asked to wear pajamas and bring a stuffed animal. Hubby will put together a kid friend list of music for their dance party when they first arrive. While they are doing that, I"ll have cheese pizzas in the oven and cut into squares along with chips/dip, pretzels and cut up fruit for the adults and kids. (I did mention on the invite that the parents can stay or use the time and go out to dinner/movie!) After the dance party, we will do temporary tattoos, make face masks and color car or butterfly magnets (Oriental Trading Company). If there is time, we'll have a scavenger hunt outside (depends on HOW hot it is and how much time is left over!). By then, hubby will be home from work and we'll do the cake (donuts this year - the 'breakfast' part of the pajama party...complete with juice or milk) and then open gifts. Afterwards, we'll all settle into the living room for a story or two. Then it will be time to send them home - right around bedtime (8pm).

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answers from Los Angeles on

LOL! I was originally planning to host my son's 5th birthday party at our house on a weekend. We would rent a bounce house, have sprinklers, and serve cake. I was going to invite all the neighborhood kids in additional to my son's school friends. We were going to have an after party for family and close friends that night. BUT, the weather has been totally crazy out here this summer.

I just didn't want to have to worry about having to move the party indoors due to weather-- especially if we invited a lot of people. So I pared down the invite list and just booked a party at a bouncy place on a weekday. I got a good deal on it too, so I am actually saving money by doing it there. We'll still have a small after party at the house, but it will only be for the family.

I have hosted a few very fun b-day parties for my daughter at our house. But it is a lot of work! And the young grade school kids can get quite loud, obnoxious, and aggressive towards each other, depending on the activities that are available and whether or not they have to take turns with anything.

My advice is to do a cost comparison for both types of parties. You might be surprised by how expensive it actually is to host it at home. I'm sure everyone will have fun whatever you decide. Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

Five is still very little. Kids will enjoy a home-based party. I wouldn't stress too much about it. Think classic games like pin the tail on the donkey, sack races, etc. If you search online, you should find a lot of ideas. Plan enough back up ideas that you're safe if you need to move indoors.

Five is when some parents will go but most will stay. A lot of parents are freaked out by home parties and will insist on being there if they don't know you well. So, unfortunately, you need to budget for food for them.


answers from Grand Forks on

I did an at home party for my younger son when he turned six. Fortunately the weather was nice so we were able to stay in the back yard. If the weather had not cooperated and we had to come inside I was prepared to have a movie party, because my house isn't big enough to have a bunch of five and six year olds play games inside. We had a parachute, a tug-of-war, and a bunch of carnival games set up (ring toss, bean bag toss, kerplunk etc.) The kids enjoyed the games. I had colouring sheets, bubbles and sidewalk chalk out too just in case. We had ten kids, and just my husband, my mother-in-law and I did the party (parents don't stay at kids parties where I live). I wouldn't expect any parents to stay and help with the party unless you ask them to as a favour. We served hot dogs, veggies, fruit, chips and cake for lunch.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We've done lots of home parties for our son, and at 5 it's easy to keep them busy. I picked Saturday and on the invite wrote "Shine only - rain date Sunday" so that at least I had some fall back in case of bad weather. We did not plan any activities other than filling up an inflatable pool, providing squirt guns, and putting out a slip and slide. We have a swing set, and the party favors were squirt guns, beach balls and those blow up punch balls (Dollar Store). We did a pinata (Wal mart), and I also cut pool noodles (Dollar Store) in half and wrapped the bottom with silver duct tape to make them into 'swords'. Yes the kids clobbered each other but noone got hurt. My husband did hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, and I put out salads, fruit and pasta salad. Ok and beer and wine too but that's optional of course! Lots of people offered to bring sides, which helped. Yes it's a lot of work but it is so fun, it's worth it.



answers from New York on

I wouldn't expect the parents to stay - 5 tends to be the age where drop offs started for us. We had home birthday parties up until my daughter was in either 2nd or 3rd grade. Only reason we stopped was because my husband discovered that when we moved to another state from family he actually had to do more than take pictures at a party!

AS an FYI, we had a rainy day for my son one year and just pulled all the furniture to the sides in the family room and stayed in there. Also, freeze dance was a great way to eat up a LOT of time.

Good luck!

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