Gwen Stefani reportedly spent more than $15,000 on her son Kingston's 4th birthday party last month. The four-tier custom-made butterfly cake for Suri Cruise's 2nd birthday supposedly cost five grand -- and that was just for the cake. Her entire 2nd birthday bash cost approximately $100,000, iVillage reported at the time. And non-celebrity parents are also spending like crazy: California-based Over the Top Productions offers "couture kids celebrations" that can cost as much as $10,000 per themed, coordinated party, CNN reported.
The rest of us don't have such resources. Renting a party place gets pricey quickly, and while you don't have to contend with much clean-up, you are limited as to the number of people you can invite and the amount of time you can take -- and you're usually still on the hook for refreshments and goodie bags.
Is it possible to throw a fun party for your kid at home and on the cheap, even if you have to invite your child's entire class?
Over at Owlhaven, author and mom of 10 Mary Ostyn hosted a lovely tea party for her daughter's 8th birthday. A simple spread of fruit, sandwiches, veggies and dip, and bagles and creamcheese filled the long tables. "The only activity that I planned besides visiting was cupcake-decorating, which the girls seemed to enjoy," Mary writes. "My daughter had fun picking various bright candies that the girls could use to decorate the cupcakes, and their creations were lovely. We asked the guests to dress up, which I think added to the fun of the event."
Heather from Nobody But Yourself came up with a clever plan for celebrating her daughter's 7th. "Operation Seven Candles" was a Secret Agent-themed bash that was perfect for boys and girls. A coded invitation, special badges, detailed "training" (relay races, limbo, costume contests, and listening to a CD of "mystery sounds"), awards, and a hunt for the goodie bags rounded out the day. Best of all? They were able to host the whole event at their house, which saved them some serious cash. "We couldn't justify spending upwards of $300 or even more on a child's birthday party lasting less than 2 hours," she writes. Also, having it at home "would enable Kiddo to invite as many friends as she wanted." They ended up with 25 secret agents in attendance.
How did you celebrate your child's most recent birthday? In retrospect, would you have done anything differently?
Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @WriteEditRepeat.