Kids’ Birthday Party at Home or Out – Which is Better?

by MyDadBlog on July 9, 2009

in Birthday Parties

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Now that we’ve hosted several birthday parties between our two boys, I started comparing the pros and cons of doing home birthday parties vs. parties hosted at places like a “Bounce-U”, bowling, etc.  What I’ve determined is that based on your priorities, the distinction is pretty clear.

Home Party

While it can get kind of expensive hosting several children at a bounce place and then feeding them after, including the parents, it can be even more expensive to host a party at home.  When hosting a party at your house, you have the benefit of flexibility with respect to how long you want it to run, what you want to do and you get to show off your house a bit and be more relaxed.  Dad can show his buddies his latest gadgets or catch some of the game by sneaking away for a few minutes.  Mom can show off her scrapbooking and cooking prowess via her latest concoction.  However, you feel somewhat compelled to go all out.  The food is often very much more expensive than the typical pizza they force you to buy at one of the generic party places.

One of my biggest pet peeves with home parties is the pressure to have everything in immaculate condition.  The amount of cleaning, preparation, arguing before the party, and hours of cleanup afterward is often not worth the aggravation.  In retrospect though, if you pick a really cool theme and do something out of the ordinary and memorable, our home parties tend to stand out as the best ones.

Bounce Party/Other

Chuck-E-Cheeze, Bounce-U, etc. – Once you’ve seen one you’ve seen ’em all, but for at least the first few times, these places tend to keep the kids engaged and wear them out.  After a fad catches on and everyone uses the same place for their parties, kids catch on and it starts to get kind of monotonous.  While the costs can add up for hosting large parties, there are ways to cut the costs down a bit.  While most of these places force you to order food from them, here are some ways to cut those costs out, which can make a big difference:

  • Do a late morning party instead of an afternoon party, so you can serve fruit that you brought instead of pizza through them.
  • If they don’t let you bring food, say that some of the people in your party have food allergies, are vegan or whatever, so that you can actually bring in some decent tasting food at a lower cost.
  • You can probably play two places off each other, especially if things are slow and they offer virtually the same service with little or no differentiation.
  • Check if Friday nights vs. Saturday vs. Sunday offer a price break.

The benefit of one of these parties is that you don’t have to worry about setting up or cleaning up afterward.  There also tend to be teenage kids running things, setting up, getting the room ready to eat before you head out of the play area, so both parents actually get to enjoy some time with the kids rather than solely playing host.

In my estimation, there are clear distinctions between each and with a wide variance in financials for either option, much depends on the theme, what you did in previous years, what the other friends and families parties have been like and most of all – what your child prefers!

What’s your preference?

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