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5 Slightly Different Kids Party Ideas  

5 Slightly Different Kids Party Ideas  
Carly Jacobs
kids party ideas

Our big girl H turned 5 last week and despite promising I would do a party every second year, I have yet to follow through on that promise. She’s had one every year and will probably continue to do so forever because I’m a soft touch mum.

I do a party every year mainly because we live in the country and there are no museums, play centres or anything near us. Parties seem to replace those things, and it feels mean-spirited to deprive the local kids of something slightly more exciting than a trip to the park. 

I get really anxious about parties. I can Google kids party ideas for eternity but the execution is what really makes or breaks it. I don’t know why I get so worked up over it though, I’ve never been to a terrible kids party. They’ve all been in the range of lovely to extra lovely. As long as the kids have a good time (and they usaully do!) it’s a hit. Still there’s that nagging feeling. Will H like it? Will it be a ‘cool’ party? Do I have enough food? One of the myriad of ways in which we can fail as a parent. The self inflicted pressure is on. 

5 Slightly Different Kids Party Ideas  

This year we decided to do a few things differently, and this is how it went. 

No games 

inflatable water slide

Instead of games, we borrowed an inflatable kids’ water slide from a friend (similar to this one on Amazon) and bought a slip-and-slide to go with it. We popped out some other lawn games we already had – Giant Connect 4 and Giant Jenga – that was it. I didn’t organise any other games and the kids didn’t care. H doesn’t like games, oddly. She hates pin-the-tail because she doesn’t like the blindfold. Fair enough. She doesn’t like sack races because it’s too hard to move her legs. Pass the parcel is a logistical nightmare for her organised little brain. Pinatas ‘aren’t very kind’, and I feel like she’s not wrong. Last year, I organised games for her party, and all the kids said no because they were busy playing teachers on the porch. So no games. It was great. 

No gifts

I hope no one thought I was mean or horrible for doing this, but we decided to ask for no gifts and take H to the zoo instead. I gave her the choice and said she could let guests bring presents or we could have a day out at the zoo, and she chose the zoo. Here’s how I worded it on the invitation. 

A few friends still bought gifts, a few brought flowers and cards, and some of the cards had money to spend at the zoo. Going no gifts was a positive experience, and we might continue. The reason behind no gifts is that I watched her unwrap 15 presents last year at her party and she was like a zombie. Robotically unwrapping, putting it the pile, grabbing another. We all forgot which gift came from who and it felt really yuck. This felt good. I cannot remember a single present I got given when I was kid by a friend at a party so it made me think what’s the point in all this? H wasn’t upset at all about no presents, she’s just excited to go to the zoo. For the record, I’m perfectly happy buying presents for other kids, that’s not an issue at all. This is an us thing. 

It was hosted after school on a Friday 

I recently attended our first after-school party on a Friday, and I was like, ‘Dang, this is genius.’ 

After-school parties only take up an afternoon, and they don’t fall across a meal time, so you can go basic on catering. They’re also great for December kids who drew the short end of the stick for birthday months. It’s often impossible to find a free Saturday in December. A free Friday arvo? Most of them are free. We also loved that the party didn’t take up half our weekend. If you’re fence-sitting over an after-school party, do it. It was great. 

I can’t speak for the other guests, but our girls were utterly destroyed after playing all evening, and they were both fast asleep by 7 pm, which rarely happens. I’d be pretty stoked if our party bestowed premium bedtimes  upon H’s friends. 

We had ice cream cake 

I know this isn’t wildly earth-shattering, but H did not fall far from her mother’s tree and does not like cake. So I made an ice-cream cake, and it was a hit. I didn’t get a great picture of it because it was 30 degrees outside and I had to serve it before it melted but here’s a cropped photo.

She wanted a Lion King cake, so I bought some vintage figurines on eBay. I made the cake by squishing vanilla ice-cream in two cling-film lined cake tins, re-freezing them, layering them on top of each other with sprinkles in between and popped it back in the freezer. I used canned whipped cream and green food colouring to ‘ice’ the cake right before I served it, added some green sprinkles to make it look like grass, popped the decos on and bam. Lion King cake. The ice-cream re-froze brilliantly. Will 10/10 do this again. 

I served G&Ts for the adults. 

Not surprisingly, after a long week, standing in the hot sun watching your kid play on a water slide, a G&T was well received by most. We also had flavoured mineral water available for adults. 

I highly recommend a backyard water slide party if you have the weather and space for it. 

Oh I also did party bags which is probably hypocritical when I asked for no gifts, but H really loves planning them, putting them together and giving them out so we went with it. I kept them as practical and minimal as possible. I stole the idea from my mate. She got these little plaster casts from Kmart, split up the paint pots and bought little paintbrushes. So it’s like a cute little craft activity. I also liked having these as a backup in case the weather got really awful, and we had to come inside and have something to do. I also popped in a lollypop and a Milky Way. 

And those are our fairly low-key, fairly low budget, low pressure kids party ideas.

What’s the best kids party you’ve ever been to or hosted? My eldest is 5 and my youngest is 1. I need LOTS of kids party ideas please!

I have a newsletter that goes out every Wednesday at 10 am – it’s got recommendations, lovely links and self improvement suggestions that don’t suck. You can sign up for it here. 

9 Comments

  1. Anonymous 3 months ago

    This party sounds like all kinds of fun. Good on you Carly – I never seemed to find the sweet spot where I wasn’t totally freaked out anxious about ALL the things when it came to kids party’s. I reckoned you’re on a roll for future celebrations to be pretty ace ?

    • Author
      Carly 2 months ago

      Oh I certainly didn’t find the sweet spot! I’ll be anxious about kids parties forever but she did have fun and that’s all that matters. Definitely will go low key in the future.

  2. Anonymous 3 months ago

    The ice-cream cake was a great idea. My mum used to make them when we were kids too. To fancy them up she used to mix crushed chocolate bars through the icecream before refreezing – crunchie, cherry ripe, peppermint crisp.

    • Author
      Carly 2 months ago

      Oh I love that idea! The 5 year has decided the doesn’t like chocolate so I’ll wait until next year when she realises what a fool she is.

  3. Ailsa 3 months ago

    I love the no gifts idea – we did that for a 4th birthday (orndid a $5 limit) and it was great!

    I disagree on the Friday afternoon thing though – if you’re a working parent then it makes it really really hard and your kid feels like they’re missing out.

    • Author
      Carly 2 months ago

      Yeah it was such a winner. We’ll do it every year!

      On the Friday thing, we’re all working parents in our town but our population is tiny and we have this weird thing where kinder isn’t absorbed into childcare like it is in bigger cities, they’re working on it but most kids H’s age are picked up at 3 on Fridays and parents flex off or work from home. I think only one kid missed out because her parents were working and if I had it on a weekend there were already 2 other parties so even more kids would have missed out! It’s such a hard balance.

  4. Mary J 2 months ago

    I realised early on that kids love to run their own show. I kept the party-things limited, pass the parcel got them all sitting down and every layer had a lolly (just had to make sure there was one for everyone). My daughter loved making a treasure hunt for her brother’s parties. We have set up cup cake decorating benches and the kids go for gold – I usually do glacé icing. One year we did a fruit salad buffet bench, so the kids selected their bowl of fruit. That year I also did a “fill your own party bag” bench at the front door when they left. I had a large selection of tatt from previous parties and the kids went for gold!
    As my two have gotten older parties have changed a lot. This year my lad(14) invited some mates over after youth club, they walked down for a meal and cake, and the friends only realised it was his birthday on the day and their parents had no idea. So there were a few stinky tired lads eating up after running around playing indoor soccer. The lass will have some friends over if I hound her too (I love having people around!). Her birthday is in January and 9 years out of ten we’ll be away, so her celebrations have always been later in the year.
    Boy, I like this question!!

    • Author
      Carly 2 months ago

      Oh these idea are great! We have a massive box of toys from previous party bags for reusing in the future.

      Big kid parties seem like a whole different kettle of fish. They seem like you can get away with them being smaller too which sounds nice!

  5. Anonymous 2 months ago

    Her party sounds so great! Bonus points for having it on a Friday, here in Germany Friday afternoon is unofficially part of the weekend, so many people clock off work at 1pm or so , and I bet they would enjoy a G&T to unwind! Personally I always liked Saturday morning at ten for little kids’ parties – at one or two pm you’re finished, they’ve all gone home and you still have lots of the day left. Best party we had for a seven year old: a pirate party (as requested), for which I spray painted about 30 bits of gravel gold, and hid them deep in a pile of building sand which was looming large in our backyard at the time. They dug for gold for HOURS! and then spontaneously turned an old oil drum into a pirate ship using sticks and rags, while the adults tested the rum by way of making capirinhias on the verandah 🙂 Then we put the hose out and they hosed each other down… Finally we had a fire in the fire pit, roasted marshmallows and sang sea shanties. The parents who came to pick them up were perhaps slightly surprised by their muddiness, but the kids were over the moon.
    The no gifts thing is brilliant, wish I’d thought of it.

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