Friday, September 28, 2012

Stress Free Birthday Parties

I've noticed a trend in the birthday parties my daughter has been invited to lately... scaled back parties with lots of free play. One was held at a local school playground. Kids played and then had some cake and ice cream. Another was an informal gathering at the beach. If you've read this blog for a while, you know I love this shift. All kids want to do, after all, is have fun playing with their friends. Doing that outside, whenever possible, is even better.

Here's a quick recap of the party we recently hosted:

  1. My daughter invited 5 friends. (4 were able to attend).
  2. Invitations asked them to bring their bikes and helmets if it was sunny and dress-up clothes if it was raining. The day started rainy but clearer skies were predicted, so most of the girls came prepared for both. 
  3. They started out playing dress-up. 
  4. They had a light lunch of quesadillas, fruit salad, and veggie sticks.
  5. They played more dress up. 
  6. They had cake and ice cream and opened presents.
  7. They combined their two activities and rode bikes while dressed up.

Doesn't everyone ride bikes in a tu-tu?

Because this party was small- my daughter only invited her closest friends- it was a stress-free party for me to run. The girls arrived and just stated playing. All I had to do was provide lunch and cake and ice cream. Of course, lunch wasn't even necessary- we could have planned this party for after the lunch hour. We just happen to like to cook, so serving lunch was fun for us. If you hate cooking, skip it!

If you like this idea but still aren't convinced, read these earlier posts for suggestions.

Free Play and Birthday Parties Describes a party for a 10 year old boy.
Loose Parts Play, Part 2 Includes my "Top Ten List" for planning this kind of party.
Loose Parts Play, Part 3 Offers specific suggestions for families who don't have a yard or live in a small apartment.

What do you think? Will you embrace this idea? Are there other hurdles you can think of that I didn't address in this or earlier posts?


  1. When our son turned 7 (or 8?) we had a Lego birthday party. We bought pounds of used Legos on ebay. We ran them all through a couple hot laundry cycles, then separated out the "special pieces." For the party we just had a mound of Legos (more than I had ever seen in one place) in the middle of the room. Each child was given a bunch of special pieces which they were free to trade. This was just so no-one immediately grabbed all the "best" pieces. We had games like "who can build the tallest Lego tower in 2 minutes?" and "guess how many Legos are in this jar." Of course, the prize was the jar of Legos. Oh, and anything you build, you can take home.

    It was the easiest party we ever through.

    1. I think that's a fantastic party idea! I'll bet they created all kinds of cool things, too!

  2. Replies
    1. It sure was! My role was to feed them and stay out of the way- my daughter and her friends decided what they wanted to do and when.

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