Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Playground Parties

To wrap up my Kid's Birthday Parties series, I combined four of Beckett's parties into one extended post. Thanks for reading & hanging in there. I am very grateful to my sisters and close friends who contributed great ideas and suggestions to help make kids parties the best they can be. And now for the finale…

Living in NYC: I saw first hand how competitive and outrageous birthday parties for kids can be. When it came time to throw a party on our end, I had to figure out ways to make it fun and affordable for us. While Beckett was young, I tried to stay clear of parties at established venues thinking I would save us loads of money. So for the first 5 birthday parties, we celebrated in local playgrounds and parks. 

But no matter what: What I realized later after doing parties both ways, is that there are pros and cons to both and the results are generally the same: 
1. your kid is thrilled to death to be the center of attention amongst all his/her friends
2. you always end up spending way more than you budgeted
3. you end up exhausted no matter what: you are still responsible for children other than your own, whether you are cutting the cake or the hired Bozo the Clown.

Thrown for: Beckett
Ages: 2, 3,4 & 5
Location: Various playgrounds in NYC
Number of guests: Average 8
Beckett turns 2
Bulldozer theme
Beckett turns 3
Carnival theme
Beckett turns 4
Cars Theme
Beckett turns 5
Star Wars Theme

The basics: We started by throwing park or playground parties for Beckett when we lived in NYC. They were simple at first. You arrive to park or playground when it first opens to snag the picnic tables. Claiming them yours is key to the party's success and this is a very stressful moment. I usually sent Josh with the table cloths. Guests meet you at designated playground and since at that age, they were usually accompanied by a parent or nanny, they then played on the jungle gym, gathered for pizza delivered by the local pizzeria and ate cake you either made or purchased. Easy- right? Well, for some reason, it always seemed like a logistic nightmare.

Some issues: 
  • The cake, the goodie bags, any activities, a cooler full of juice boxes, snacks, and of course your own children have to be transported to the playground. Cab? Sure. Hold onto that cake and don't forget the matches or the candles or the knife to cut the cake. See below for delivery suggestions.
  • Safety is a big concern at these locations. Since these were not drop off parties, luckily each child had a caregiver to help keep an eye on them. The gated playground was also helpful, Either Josh or I tried to stay close to the exit while chatting with the parents. If it is an open area, it can be much harder to keep track of the kiddos.

Suggestions from the hostess: Keep planned activities to a minimum. This means less to shlep- besides the playground equipment itself is enough for a good 1/2 hour of running around. Take advantage of having food delivered. Pizza from your local pizza joint as well as veggie and fruit platters plus juice boxes from the local grocery store can be delivered to the gate of the playground. I'm sure they would even bring the cake as well. Another fun treat is to give the guests "coupons" for the ice cream cart. Just ask the guy at the cart to tally it up and give him a sweet tip. One thing to remember is if you are in an open area with no gates, be sure to mention to parents as they arrive to try and keep eyes peeled. Can't hurt. Other than that weather is the only thing that would hinder this event, so be sure to state a rain date on your invite.
Please leave any further suggestions or comments 
to help make our kids birthday parties as memorable as possible.


  1. This is the reason I wish Arun's birthday was in the summer! In Oxford it would be much easier to find open green space for a party. Well done, I LOVE those cakes!

  2. Those were some fabulous parties. Good job Cara!