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My firstborn’s 2nd and 3rd birthday parties were wild extravaganzas (you can see them HERE and HERE).
I devoted hours to Pinterest researching themes and decorations and food inspirations.
My mom and I joined forces and rented bounce houses and put together favor bags that would make Oriental Trading jealous.
We had a buffet of sugar and fun activities planned and invitations that might as well have been delivered from the White House.
It was crazy town.
Then sometime before he turned 4, I asked Happy Buddy what his favorite thing about his birthday was and he said, “Being with my friends.”
I was shocked.
It wasn’t my elaborate birthday party. It wasn’t the napkins I had special ordered. It wasn’t even the expensive bounce house.
His answer gave me the freedom to CALM DOWN about parties and ever since I have been committed to something I call –
Your kids don’t need a big fuss. They just want to be celebrated and be surrounded by the people they love. And that can happen without breaking the bank or your back in a bounce house.
Here is how to have a Simple Birthday Party for your little buddy.
Send a text to a small group of friends and family with the details about the party. DONE. 🙂
Pick a Location
We have hosted birthday parties at my mom’s house and at ours, but this has usually left us with a massive clean up. Do you know what has been my favorite birthday party venue? A park. Seriously the easiest thing ever. I pick a park that is fun, but doesn’t have a lot of traffic. The kids can run around while the adults talk and everyone is relaxed. When it’s over, gather everything up and throw it away. Drive home to your clean house.
Pick a Theme
This is one of my favorite parts! I love having my boys brainstorm a party theme that reflects something they are passionate about. What is their favorite show? Game? Sport? Toy? We have done monkeys, trains, turtles, Minions, Peppa Pig, and, most recently, Paw Patrol. Go to Target or Party City or hop on Amazon and buy a plastic tablecloth, some paper plates and napkins in said theme.
We have found pizza to be the easiest answer here. My boys both love it. Pretty much everyone loves it. It’s not that expensive. It feeds a crowd. It doesn’t require utensils.
This part is probably the only part that I invest a little bit more time into. No fancy fondant – just boxed mixes, but I really like making the birthday child’s cake special. I usually use the theme as a good place to start for inspiration. If that doesn’t work, I will consider doing a cake in the shape of the number they are turning (like Happy Buddy’s number 5 cake HERE). Or simply covering the entire thing in colorful M&Ms (like HERE). Cupcakes are even better than cake because they don’t need utensils (love THESE cute pig ones we did last year for Happy Baby).
Or you could just order a cake from your local grocer. Or stack some brownies on a plate and put a candle in the shape of their birthday number on the top. Cute and easy!
Put out a box of chalk. Set out some bubbles. Get a bubble machine. Have a Frisbee or giant ball on hand. If it’s summertime, pull out the sprinkler and let the kids run free. Kids are usually pretty awesome at entertaining themselves. You don’t need to hire a magician or clown to encourage a good time.
Dollar Spot coloring books, stickers, or glowsticks. Just a little something to say thank you for coming. People don’t really want a bag filled with items that will probably just end up in the trash later, so if you’re going to do favors at all, try to pick something that is useful.
That’s it! Just spend time enjoying your child and his special day! Don’t worry too much about it being perfect.
Because you know the best part of the whole day is the simple joy of hearing everyone sing Happy Birthday and seeing your miracle birthday buddy blow out those candles.
Yes, yes, YES!!! It saddens me that people go so crazy over elaborate parties and events — even to the extremes of mani-pedis for children, limos for kid parties, over-the-top venues, decorations, entertainers, rentals. Simple truly is best for everyone — parents, guests, the birthday child. This goes for parties parents provide at schools, too. Every teacher I know will say AMEN to that! :o) Thank you, Julie!
PS — a fun way to do a “cake” is to stack iced donuts in a pyramid and add candles. Less crumbly and messy than cake, as well as less waste (I’m looking at you, cupcakes with the icing licked off).
what about a winter birthday my granddaughter’s birthday is in January they live in northern virginia so no park locations for us..any suggestions
Oh yes! My little girl’s birthday is at the end of November. It’s usually cold and coldy here in Mississippi that time of the year. Any ideas for cold weather parties? We’ve done the party at the house 3 times (she is 4). I can’t do it anymore! Our house is really tiny. Would love ideas from other too!
M,y child’s favorite birthday so far (and she’s been to the bouncy house, the museum, the entertainment centers, etc was one we went to a few weeks ago. It was in someone’s backyard. They had a swing set and a few games for the kids. Simple. Just like when I was growing up. I don’t know what started it, maybe it is Pinterest to blame, but when did we all feel compelled to go crazy extravagant? Specifically for small children who won’t notice or remember it anyway??
Happy Home Fairy
LOL! You are so right – WINTER – I forgot about that! How about a free location like an ice cream shop or a Chick-fil-a. Sometimes fast food restaurants have an indoor play structure! You could also check with your community and see if there is a small community center that rents out a space. Or find someone with a big basement and pack everyone in! Those are my initial ideas… I will keep brainstorming!
Love everything about this!!!
Great advice and great ideas! Also, Congrats on your book!!!
Happy Home Fairy
Hey Sue! Thank you so much! This made my day!
This is awesome! You make it sound simple, yet still fun and creative. Thanks happy home fairy 🙂
Happy Home Fairy
Thank YOU, sweet Danielle! Love hearing from you here. 🙂
Love how simple, cute, and relaxed this party was! GREAT ideas! The sidewalk pawprints are a great idea!
I love all of these ideas! I was wondering which two sizes of m&ms you used on the cupcakes. I can’t quite tell