Kid Birthday Parties: What Works


Before we had children, my husband and I used to regularly throw parties for our friends. After we had children, birthday celebrations for our kids have taken the place of the parties we used to throw.  With three children whose birthdays are three different times of the year, it seems we are always planning someone’s birthday party.  And now that my oldest two are in school, the rest of the year we are attending birthday parties for their friends.

We’ve definitely learned a thing or two along the way about what makes for a successful birthday party for both the adults and the kids. Here are some of our best takeaways!

Keep it simple

Kids do not need much to have a good time.  An elaborate party is not only a source of stress for parents, it can be too much for the kids as well.  The more parties we’ve planned, the more time we leave for the kids to play together without structure.  

You can’t put a price on convenience

When life gets busy, delegating the party planning can be helpful.  There are many places around St. Louis that do “all inclusive” birthday parties where all you need to do is show up with a cake and the staff does the rest.  For my daughter’s 6th birthday this year we opted for the party package at Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park and it was so worth it.  The kids jumped to their heart’s content, enjoyed pizza and cake, and we didn’t have to do any of the preparation or clean up.  

Be sure to visit our Birthday Guide for more than 50 locations across the St. Louis area that host birthday parties!

A playground goes a long way

For Spring, Summer and Fall birthdays, a park with a playground (and splash pad for Summer) is an ideal spot for a memorable and low stress birthday party.  

A quiet place is a good idea

Not everyone attending a kid’s birthday party is an extrovert.  No matter how large the party, having a quiet space available for guests who need a calmer environment is an important thing to consider.

Beware of gigantic messes

There are so many party ideas that seem good at the time, but really are not.  We bought cup cakes with dark blue icing for my son’s second birthday.  The dye in the icing stained everyone’s lips, faces, teeth, and fingers blue.  We didn’t do that again.  

Skip the goodie bags

Goodie bags are cute and I’ve definitely been guilty of going crazy on party favors.  However, as a parent I know that 90% of the time those bags don’t make it out of the party, much less out of the mini van after driving home.  And what kid really needs more candy, trinkets and noise makers?

It is *just as good* to give as to receive

When we first started hosting birthday parties, my husband and I would not leave time for our kids to open their presents. We didn’t want the other kids to be jealous or bored watching them.  At one of these parties, my son’s friend begged him to open his gift before he left.  So, we let my son do it and the most amazing thing happened.  My son loved the gift and his friend was delighted to talk to him about it and show him how it worked. There was no boredom or jealousy at all, my son’s friend seemed proud of his gift and wanted my son to enjoy it. Since that time, we always let the kids open their presents at the end of their party and it is awesome to see our kids engage with their friends over the gifts.  And seeing generosity in children is a beautiful thing.

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Amanda is a native St. Louisan. Amanda is married to David and they live in St. Louis City. They have three children, Jeana, age 4, Solomon, age 3 and Rosa due in September 2018. Amanda currently works part-time as a family nurse practitioner, primarily with women and children, and stays home part-time with her children. Amanda enjoys getting out to explore St. Louis with the kids (especially if it involves coffee), reading and listening to medical information about women's health and breastfeeding, fruitlessly attempting to keep a clean house, and watching Jeopardy with her husband.