Summer birthday parties practically plan themselves. Get some picnic food and some paper plates, rent a bouncy castle, or put out some outdoor sport paraphernalia — so long as it doesn’t rain, these birthday parties are a snap.
Maybe they’re not quite that simple, but they’re definitely easier than winter parties. During summer, the kids can run around outside and the mess stays contained to the yard. What do you do when you have to throw a birthday party while it’s cold and wet outside?
Swim and sleep
If you have to invite your child’s entire class, then this might not work. But if you just need to invite your child’s three or four closest friends, then why not rent a suite at a local hotel? Choose one with an indoor swimming pool, have everyone bring their slumber party gear, and load up on pizza and movies.
You can decorate the suite if you like, but just being in a cool hotel room is probably enough for the kids. You might not get a lot of sleep, but that wouldn’t happen at a slumber party at home, either. And this way, you don’t have to do as much cleanup.
Just because it’s winter outdoors doesn’t mean it can’t be summer indoors. Indoor bounce house rentals bring all the fun of the outdoors inside. Set up a face painting station and have the kids bob for apples in the bathtub.
Clear out the furniture in the den and fill it with carnival booth-style games that the kids can move around and visit. You can even rent a soft serve ice cream machine, and with some picnic style food and goodies, you’ll forget it’s January.
Everyone loves the cooking shows, and if you have some budding young chefs in the mix, this can be a great way to have fun. Design your own cooking competition: pizza is always a good choice. Provide the kids with some toppings, divide them into teams, and think of a few clever wrenches you can throw into the mix.
Maybe the teams can spin a wheel to either get a challenge or a bonus. Perhaps they can each have a certain number of points they can “spend” on handicaps for an opposing team. Whatever it is, keep it fun and light.
Take advantage of the dark
If the kids are old enough to not be afraid of the dark, then take advantage of winter’s earlier sunsets by planning the whole theme around the long nights. Get some glow bracelets or eyeglasses, rent a fog machine to make things extra spooky, and play a “murder mystery” game.
If that’s not the right thing for your group, get a bunch of Nerf guns and play an indoor version of capture the flag. Give each team something to guard and task the other team to knock it down with their Nerf guns. People who are hit have to sit out to the count of 50.
You can either shake off the winter blues, or you can fully embrace them. You could decorate your home in a Nutcracker or Frozen theme or decorate with snowflakes, white balloons, white fairy lights, cotton, and even rent a snow globe bounce house.
For activities, the kids can bounce, decorate cookies, and have a toilet paper snowball fight. Have the kids make snowflakes, decorate their own gingerbread houses, or act out the Nutcracker in their own impromptu ballet.
There are few things that kids love more than an epic treasure hunt. Provide clues, make the kids play games or accomplish challenges to move on, and keep them guessing. Provide something truly desirable for the winning team.
A variation on this idea is a mall hunt. If the kids are old enough, you can send them on a mall scavenger hunt that ends at the movie theater for a birthday viewing of one of the newest winter films.