Childrens Birthday Party Planning: When and When Not to Have a Big
by: Kimberly Hargis
Age 1: Invite only family members and close friends only because this birthday is more for the parents than for
the child. At age 1, a child doesnt understand the concept of Birthday Party. He or she is getting a lot of
attention---which is all a 1-year-old wants or understands anyway. You should not go overboard on presents because
too much could scare or confuse a child. You should consider getting specialty items such as a plate that says
First Birthday, a 1-year-old candle, and possible a table cover that everyone could sign with fabric paint to have
as keepsakes that can someday be shown (or given to) to your grown child.
Age 2: 2-years-olds should have one or two playmates over for a small Birthday Play Day. Again I suggest you
keep a birthday plate and other keepsakes for your 2-year-old.
Age 3: 3-year-olds should have three to four playmates over, and at this age you might have try a birthday game
such as Who can stack the blocks the highest? I do not recommend having a clown or playing any games that require a
blindfold over a childs eyes such key due to the fact either can scare children at this age. Remember your child
has just turned 3, and the playmates are around that age. They are still not able to understand fully structured
games very well. They only know if they do something good or better than other children, everyone will give them
attention. Again I suggest you collect keepsakes.
Age 4: At 4, children should now be ready for a real party. I suggest four or five playmates. 4-year-olds are
ready now for party decorations, but I suggest you do less and save your money for the big number 5 birthday (or
buy decorations that you can put away and use again). Games such as Musical Chairs, and carrying a hard boiled egg
on a spoon to the finish line without dropping it relay race can be appropriate, but remember that games will be
played and finished much sooner than you think. Consider having a few of your childs favorite videos on hand. Even
if the kids have seen them 100 times, they will enjoy them. After an hour or so, you will probably need a break and
the children might be cranky. A movie they are all spellbound by will be a great way to relax the kids and you. You
might want to consider spreading a couple of blankets on the floor and have some pillows handy for sleepyheads!
Age 5: 5-year-olds should have a big party, but remind them that this is because they are the big 5, and either
starting school or just in school, and having a big party will not happen every year. Explain to them that big
parties are only for special birthdays such as 5 because they have started or are starting school, 10 because that
is the first double-digit number, and of course 16 (Sweet 16 for girls and Driving Age for boys). This will save
you money in the long run. On the fifth birthday, I suggest you first decide if you want to do it yourself, rent a
building or park area but still do it yourself, or call local businesses (like McDonalds) to see what
party-planning packages they offer. I personally suggest renting a park area if weather permits because the kids
will be just as happy playing on park equipment as they would if you spent a ton of money on a professionally
planned party. Have several inexpensive disposable cameras on hand and let your Birthday Boy or Girl take pictures
of his or her first big party!
Great games for 5-year-olds whether inside or outside are:
- Hitting a Piata that is full of candy.
- Relay races, which can be held in a garage, carport, or park.
- Water balloon fights if weather permits (and you have advised the parents that the children are likely to
- Dancing to music and freezing when the music is stopped to see who looks the silliest (this is a great game
and everyone should win a party favor).
- Pin the tail on the donkey (consider a game that uses Velcro instead of pins).
You can also do face painting and movie time. As with the 4-year-olds, you need to over plan for games and
activities and a movie is a great back up (or a much-needed rest time). Another helpful hint is to take enough
large plastic trash bags to cover your kitchen floor and lightly throw all colors of paint on them. Allow for
adequate drying time before the party. Then you can use these bags to cover your kitchen floor before cake time to
catch cake droppings and milk or soda spills (which WILL happen).
Ages 6-9: Birthdays can be simple overnight parties (slumber parties for girls and all nighters for boys) filled
with popcorn, junk food, movies, and video games. As long as you let the kids stay up all night and sleep in half
the next day, this type of party can still be cool---what kid doesnt love the idea of staying up all night (even if
they dont make it all night). If it is summer time, think about letting them sleep outside in a tent or on a
screened-in porch (just be sure to let the parents know exactly where their children will be sleeping and you
should plan to check in on them a few times during the night).
Age 10: This should be done about the same as age 5 in terms of it being a special age (and reminding your child
that big parties like this will not be done every year. Ten is a good age to consider renting a facility such
- Pool parties: most local pools offer after-hour times when you can rent the pool for birthday parties.
- Roller- or ice-skating parties.
- Local arcades or pizza parlors often have special birthday packages.
- A day at the Zoo for your child and their friends.
Hint: To save money, check with the place where you plan to hold the party to see if you can decorate, bring in
the cake, and other party favors instead of buying the supplies from them.
Ages 11-15 do the same as ages 6-9 with a simple overnight party.
At 16, if they even agree to let you have a party, then consider yourself lucky. If they do, then you need to
let the teenager decide what kind of party it should be. Remember kids at that age are very into who is popular and
who is not. Dont push your child into inviting everyone you might think they should (because they might be afraid
of being made fun of for having a party at home with their parents.) They know who to they can invite and who they
cant without fear of peer pressure. My best suggestion for this age is either a pizza party at home or at a pizza
parlor or a pool party, depending on the teenagers interest.
Any party that you give should be Fun for your child. Expect that your only reward will be the memories you
create for yourself. If you happen to get a hug and a kiss from a very happy child at the end of the day, then it
will be a bonus to remember!
About The Author
Kimberly Hargis owns and operates Moms Break PMS. Printables Madness
Syndrome n. 1 : a chronic condition characterized by an uncontrollable urge to find Free Printables
on the Internet: sometimes known as PMS. Please visit http://www.MomsBreak.com.
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