Your local movie theater may not advertise it, but you if ask, it may very well set up a private movie showing, with popcorn, candy, and soda, outside of its regular operating hours (often 10am) for a minimum number of partygoers.
One of my favorite ideas, especially for tweens, is a hotel party. This isn’t as expensive as you may guess. If you limit the guests to your child’s two besties, the four of you can stay in one room. Many chain hotels with reasonable rates have an indoor pool (a must) and include breakfast. If your child’s birthday falls around a day school is closed for any reason, you can save even more by booking a weeknight. Order pizza for dinner, swim, sleep late…it’s kid heaven.
Ditch Goodie Bags!
Few of us like fussing over them. Guess what? You don’t have to hand out traditional goodie bags. There. We said it.
Instead, have the kids do a craft activity that is the favor. All kinds of crafts can serve this purpose. Start at Orientaltrading.com, where you can find just about anything crafty, at really low prices for bulk buys. Or have the kids decorate wooden picture frames (inexpensive at big craft stores like Michaels), take a group photo, print out copies, and fill the frames as the kids are leaving.
Winning options for girls include gluing crystals, ribbons, and little doodads (again, Michaels is your friend) on plain headbands. Or have each girl choose her favorite color of plain flip flop, and tie neon water balloons around the thong for a ruffly-rainbow look.
Sleepovers are the stuff memories are made of—until you have to call a parent at midnight because little Kelsey won’t stop sobbing. Or maybe your kid’s crew is totally ready, but you’re still working up the courage to have your home taken over by a herd of tweens for 16 hours. How about a sleep-under (also known as an under-night)? Kids come in the evening in their PJs, and do what they’d normally do at a sleepover. We’re talking pizza, baking brownies, video game binges, giggling over pedicures, popcorn and a movie…the classic stuff. Then, they go home! For tweens, the party may run from 7pm-10pm. For younger ones, think 6pm-9pm or even 6pm-8pm.
RELATED: Tips for Hosting a Slumber Party
Does your kid have a favorite soccer or basketball coach? A gymnastics teacher she really clicks with? Invite him or her to lead a group lesson in your backyard or at their studio or gym. You’ll need to pay them, of course, but it’s sure to cost less than an outside venue. And you can bet your kiddo will be all smiles all day.
Main photo by PhotoOp NYC