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?