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cak's avatar

Parents, how much is too much for a child's birthday party?

Asked by cak (15757 points ) March 3rd, 2009

I’m not talking about one of the biggies, I’m talking about a boy turning 6. I priced his wish list locations, the range was $400 to $600. The $600 is out – no questions, no way. I’m close to biting the bullet and booking the Monkey Joe’s party; however, the price just kills me!

Before I do this, does anyone have any other suggestions for a birthday party for a soon-to-be 6 year old boy?

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41 Answers

lefteh's avatar

My parents never spent any money on my birthdays aside from my presents and double-churned Edy’s.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

just have a little back yard birthday party and invite all of his friends with a jupiter jump and a cake ice cream you know things out of the usual.

Jeruba's avatar

Do you have to go to a “location”? We had a great backyard party for my son at home when he turned 6, with a pirate theme. I even sewed a jolly roger. I made a treasure hunt with a chest of candy and toys. I don’t know how much I spent, but it couldn’t have been $100.

cak's avatar

@lefteh—hey – they sprang for the good stuff! I think I’m feeling guilty, my daughter had big parties, but that was 9yrs ago. I couldn’t believe the $600 place – it was crazy!

Good to see you, lefteth! Hope you’ve been feeling good, these days. :)

cak's avatar

@LouisianaGirl and @Jeruba – unfortunately, right now, it’s almost better for us to have it at a location. Right now, I’m still in the middle of chemo and I’m worn out. Having it someone keeps 22 kids and all those extra germs out of the house. I’ve had some bad side effects, lately and am dealing with back-to-back illnesses.

Hubby does the location party, I do a special at-home party.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

@cak awwww I`m so sorry

casheroo's avatar

We spent way too much on our sons first birthday. And we had it in my parents backyard.
Most places are way too expensive IMO. I would not pay $600 for a party at a location. I know chuck e. cheese does parties, and I think it’s a great place for kids to play. I don’t know if 6 is too old for that though.
I think something fun might be taking the kids to see a kiddie movie, then going back home for cake. Is that something your child would be interested in? It might be cheaper.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

For a 6 year old, you should have 6 guests. Can you send treats into school, and donate the difference in the cost to the class for books or supplies?

marinelife's avatar

He is six. Starting now with a $400 location sends all the wrong message I think. He will be just as happy with something much, much less expensive. You could even have pony rides at your house for less probably or something else he would find very special.

OK, I just read your additional info. It makes sense. In that case, are you sure that you can’t find a place just as fun for less?

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, dear, @cak. I understand. I’m sorry. But that is an awful lot of kids. And there’s no correlation between amount of money spent and amount of fun kids have. Do you have anything like a Children’s Discovery Museum in your area?

cak's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock – we’ve always used that rule of thumb, but we’re tying his party into a gift fundraiser for the local children’s hospital. While I was going through chemo and surgery (one of the rounds) my son had cancer, as well. He wanted to donate presents to the children’s hospital and we decided that he has enough (he gets presents from us) and the rest will go to the hospital – to reward the party-goers for their generosity – we decided to invite the class and do a location. That is why we are doing the higher than normal amount – I’m not usually that crazy!

lefteh's avatar

Good to see you too! :)
I see why you need a location party. Why not just get the party room at a local pizza place? I’ve been so plenty of birthday parties that consisted of a movie and pizza at a local joint. Those are plenty of fun.

lefteh's avatar

Oh. You’ve promised a superfun location. That changes everything!

LouisianaGirl's avatar

I know I always liked it when my family and I got together and went out to eat.

cak's avatar

@Marina – I think I’m at a loss as to what to look for! Help! Any creative things? I was even thinking a local “paint your own” pottery place.

@lefteth – actually, the party goers have no idea what we are planning, they just know that they are being invited, but the presents are not for my son. They are for the hospital.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Aah, so this is a bigger celebration than just a birthday! Sorry I didn’t understand…

Bowling can be fun, with the bumpers in the gutters and pizza.
Science museum or aquarium, or art museum

cak's avatar

@Jeruba! Again, you did it, again! The Children’s Museum!!! I forgot all about it!! They have a new “extension” location. I could check into that place.

cak's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock – no, I didn’t fully explain it, I get too wordy sometimes and was trying to keep this shorter! Bowling is something I forget about, too. I’ll call that place, too.

I love Fluther!! Thank you!

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

The value of not having to clean your home before or after is worth at least $150 of the cost, so I would subtract that. And if they provide the cake, plates, etc. that’s at least another $30—$50.

cak's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock – Very true. It is a lot to do to prepare and to clean up. I think I’ll look into the additional places, consider the cleaning value and make a decision, tomorrow.

I am the money person in the family. I think about where it’s going, how much things cost and I just thought this was a little bit crazy!

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

My daughter went to several parties at people’s churches, where there was a large gym so kids could run around. But then you have to plan activities. If you’re doing the whole class thing, then definitely the cleaning factor, and teenaged party slaves that are part of the facility charge is well worth a chunk of the money.

marinelife's avatar

Which state do you live in?

Things we have around Orlando include petting zoos, the local zoo, the science center, gatorland (granted most places don’t have that), a craft store.

cak's avatar

@Marina – I’m in NC.

I’m cracking up about Gatorland. I lived in Orlando for a long time and have that picture, which most people take, at the entrance…in the mouth of the gator! Yeah, no Gatorland around here!

marinelife's avatar

Pump It Up has North Carolina locations (don’t know price).

Oogles N Googles is in Raleigh

The Little Gym

Have a great time. By the way, five and six are my favorite age for kids—especially boys. They are so sweet at that age.

augustlan's avatar

Skating, movies, museum, bowling, aquarium, craft store, community centers, school gyms, rec centers, YMCA, indoor swimming pools (well, they may be a little young for that, especially with so many to look after!).

jca's avatar

I’ve been debating this for my daughter’s upcoming 2nd birthday. 2nd birthdays are not for kids, as she has really no friends yet. i was debating renting the pavillion in my housing complex, which is $350. that’s a lot just for location, however, i could invite about twice as many as i could fit in my house, not worry about rain and being stuck in the house if weather is bad. however, $350 plus $50 insurance for the day is a lot just for the venue. So I am thinking not. I do agree what someone said – part of it is worth just not having to clean your house and/or have the house messed up.

wundayatta's avatar

@augustlan beat me to it. Locally, we’ve been to parties at almost all those places (except the aquarium—which is a good idea, because it might be something new for this group). Anyway, the biggie is a bowling party. We’re getting one of those for our son, because we’re just too swamped to deal with one at home, right now. It’s been a very trying year. We don’t have the energy.

My son is turning 9. The local bowling alley charges something like $22 per child. Ten guests, $220. But then assorted parents stay and we have to pay for their food, and there’s us, too, and, well, it’ll probably end up around $400. But to cut short the time, aggravation, and work, it’s worth it to us.

You should have seen the last party my daughter (age 12) went to. A bowling party. 60 kids!!!! As the kids say, O…M…G!!!!! Some parents have more money than sense. It gets worse. This is bar and bat mitzvah season. I’m told the parents spend upwards of $20,000 for these things. Renting halls, hiring djs, food, party favors, rituals, etc, etc. I hear QuinceaƱeras are the same thing. I don’t know if there are any hispanic girls in her class. Oh. She’ll be in high school then. Phew!

I’m in favor of doing things at home, and as cheaply as possible. We’ve hired the zoo to come and bring animals a couple of times. A magician a couple of times. A crafts brithday. I forget what else.

Oh, but it’s worse. There’s the friend birthday party, but there’s also the “day of” birthday party and the family birthday party. Three birthday parties each time. It drives me crazy, but my wife is willing to deal with it. I just do what I’m told. Trying to stop this is like throwing myself in front of a speeding train. The only good thing about the worsening economy is that it might stop this craziness.

Jack79's avatar

I paid 210 euros ($240) last year and 180 ($200) the year before that. And everyone had plenty to eat and was very happy. Above all, my daughter had a great time.

It all depends on how many people you’re inviting though. I booked an indoor playing ground and ordered a buffet with plenty of little snacks such as sandwiches, chicken nuggets and cheesepies. The cake was extra (and bought by my sister). I invited around 20 kids, most of whom came with just one parent (usually the mother), and some had siblings (so two kids per adult). So all in all, I had some 25 children and 15 parents, at 5 euros per person.

It was not too expensive and above all, we had a great time. And I didn’t have to clean up the mess afterwards ;)

elijah's avatar

Some of the best least expensive parties we’ve had… backyard pool party- only money I spent was food and drinks, and each kids party favor was a beach bag, towel, blow up float toy, foam can cozi (they decorated with markers and stickers) and candy.
Roller skating party- just spent the cost of renting each kids skates and admission, small favors and food.
Pottery painting- you call a local pottery store, tell them your budget and they will set out a few pieces for the kids to choose. They paint them and leave them to be fired in the kiln. You pick them up a week later and the kids have a special bowl or mug they’ve made themselves.
Backyard BBQ- we rented a bounce house and the kids couldn’t get enough of it. There were little games set up (kid safe horseshoes, sandbox, t-ball) for the kids waiting a turn in the bounce house. A timer is a must, 5 or 6 kids at 10 minute intervals and an adult with a whistle keeps everything running smoothly.

jca's avatar

my daughter is at the age where she won’t remember so if i did have a party it would be for the adults, pretty much.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

When you’re six, even some of the most basic things can be exciting.

hey, an ant! cooooooooooooooooooooooool!

cak's avatar

Update – we’re doing it at the discovery center – the extension center. It’s about the same as one of the places; however, what they do it so worth the money and the children get a great mini-scrapbook with pictures from the party already in the book. (great party favor!) After they heard what we are doing (the toy donations) they said they would donate some items, too! Bonus!

casheroo's avatar

Sounds great! Happy 6th birthday to your boy!

cak's avatar

@casheroo – thanks! He’s counting the days!!

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I hate writing thank you notes for gifts that we neither need nor want, so that nipped the party thing in the bud here rather quickly. There’s a saturation point for how much plastic crap one playroom can hold. I viewed every toy as something I would have to either pick up or reassemble at some point. We became minimalists rather quickly…

cak's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock – me too! I think my son thinks I’m a mean mom…when people ask what kind of toy they should give him, I say books! This party eliminates all of those extra toys. :) doing the mean mom dance!

jonsblond's avatar

@cak I’m glad you have it all figured out now. I was going to suggest your local park district. Our local park district now offers parties in their tumbling room. They do everything from providing cake, drinks, plates, party favors and supervised play time on the equipment. All for $100–150 depending on how many children come. The ice skating rink is another great option.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

@cak wow that sounds like a birthday to remember and tell your little boy happy birthday!

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

That sounds like it’s going to be a great party!!!

janbb's avatar

I came in on this too late to weigh in, so I’ll just say the plans sound great and hope all goes well, cak!

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