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Six Hacks for the Best Party Ever

Six Hacks for the Best Party Ever

Your children may be counting down the days until their next birthday—who doesn't love to be celebrated?—but you're probably stressing about what do to at the party and baking a cake. We're here to help, with six birthday hacks to make the day go smoothly.

It’s inevitable: Once kids are old enough to regularly spend time around children the same age, whether it’s at Mommy & Me classes, day care, or school, masterminding birthday parties becomes a part of your life. While on the surface they seem like simple concepts—cake, a few balloons—you’ll quickly find that hosting your child’s celebration can be more complicated than you imagined. For all the joy of an impending birthday, there’s plenty of stress involved for many parents, from wondering how to keep the crowd entertained to worrying about the state of the house when they leave to hoping the whole thing doesn’t break the bank. 

But fear not! We’re here to help, with smart ideas to save you time, money, and hassle. Check out our six favorite tips for a party that’ll thrill your child and make things easy on you.

Move on Out

Kiddie party venues are popular for a reason. It’s a turnkey option, relieving you of cleaning the house; trips to the supermarket, bakery, and party store; worrying about your pets at the hands of 19 preschoolers; and cleaning again when it’s over. Money well spent, we think, especially if you work full-time. Many such businesses even provide goodie bags, so it really can be a zero-effort proposition.

RELATED: Find a Birthday Party Place Near You

Bring the Fun to You

A new trend that’s catching on in our area is having a big ‘ole bus pull up right in front of your home. Parties on wheels are a hybrid between a house party and a venue party. Usually reserved for a set number of hours, you can hire a bus that comes with just about any activity your child might love built right in, from tumbling (try or to video games (a la

Get Creative

It’s happened to all of us. Time got away from you, and the obvious party places are all booked up on the day you need. Think a little outside of the party box by looking to unexpected spots to hold your party. Like what? Stew Leonard’s for one. Yes, the gourmet supermarket hosts craft-centric parties for future foodies. Another under-the-radar option is Cold Stone Creamery, which takes kids behind the counter for an up-close look at how its signature treats are made.

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, 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.

Rethink Sleepovers

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

Get Personal

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


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Christina Vercelletto


 Christina Vercelletto is a former editor at NYMetroParents, ParentingScholastic Parent & Child, and Woman’s Day. She lives on Long Island with her kids, a chiweenie, Pickles, and a 20-pound calico, Chub-Chub.

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