Pajamarama: an easy birthday party for 6-8 year olds

My youngest son, Eli, turned 7 recently and though I would have loved to skip a birthday party, he wanted to celebrate, and he shouldn’t get the shaft because he’s the third kid and Mommy’s so over cupcakes and goody bags.

We decided on a pajama party and tried to keep it small since we were hosting at home.  We invited about 8 boys (plus my 3)  to come in pajamas on a Friday evening. They ate pizza upon arrival ($40) and then descended on my basement.

We cleared away the toys and had plenty of cushions, pillows and chairs for the kids to sit. I bought a movie at Target ($5) I thought all would enjoy: “Scooby Doo and Batman.” How could anyone argue over that?

Before the little squirts arrived all adorable in their jammies, I had made popcorn to fill paper popcorn holders ($2.) As the movie started, I handed out juice boxes and let them each pick one bite-size candy ($4 a bag) for their screening pleasure.

They were happy and surprisingly engaged for at least an hour. When I noticed them getting antsy towards the end, I gave them each a glowstick ($1 each) which they loved playing with in the dark.

When the movie was over they made ice cream sundaes, at Eli’s request. I bought 3 flavors, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and several toppings ($30.)  I also made cupcakes because I don’t believe in celebrating birthdays without cake.

Then– just as they were sugared up and getting crazy–  it was time for their parents to pick them up. I invited all parents to stay through the party for wine and cheese and several did, which made it a much more festive Friday night for Mommy.

As we sent the munchkins out the door, they received a goody bag containing a flashlight and Spiderman toothbrush set ($3 for both)– essential tools for an almost-slumber party. I hate all the crap that comes in traditional goody bags so I always opt for a somewhat useful thing whenever possible. The kids were thrilled.

I got everything for the party (except the pizza) at the dollar store so the whole party cost less than $150. I actually felt like I was cheating because the party activity was so low maintenance, but several parents commented on the creativity of the concept.  It’s all in the execution. With a few personal touches, a movie in the basement felt like a special night for the kids.

Eli with his birthday cupcake

Most importantly, Eli had a terrific time. He loved being in his pajamas, he was giddy that I allowed him to eat so much junk in one night, and he enjoyed playing host in his house. Several parents lingered after the pick up time (always a sign of a good party!) drinking wine and nibbling on cupcakes.

Throwing kids birthday parties is usually a duty we endure, but rarely enjoy. What could have been a stressful parental obligation, actually turned into a fun night for the whole family.

Have you thrown any kids birthday parties that were easy, fun, and didn’t break the bank? Please share in the comments!

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