40 Tips for a Hassle-Free Birthday Party

Location, Readers' Secrets

Party Away

What if you don't have the room -- or the desire -- to throw a party at your house? Here are some low-cost ideas to host a party off-site.

30. Churches often rent out their rec rooms, which can come with tables, chairs, and even play equipment.

31. A nearby park makes a great venue if the weather is cooperative (if not, have a backup plan or rain date in mind). Reserve a space in advance, if possible, or lay claim to it early on party day before the crowds show up.

32. Some fire stations host parties for a small fee. Kids get a tour of the firehouse and use of a room for cake.

Readers' Secrets

33. You will be busy, so recruit a couple of family members or friends to run the video camera and take pictures. It's hard to do everything yourself. --Susan

34. If you really want to make the first birthday special, celebrate alone the night before. Take all the pictures then, and on the day of the party, relax. You don't have to worry about getting that shot of baby blowing out the candles. You've already got it. --Margie

35. For my daughter's third birthday, we had her party at a local park. The shelter had electricity so we were able to bring food in Crock-Pots. The kids played at the playground before and after the meal. Cleanup was easy. Having it there really took the pressure off of me. --Michelle

36. For my daughter's first birthday, we rented out a pool-side hotel room. The hotel allowed family and friends to come use the pool. We put tables together and had a beach party. The adults enjoyed the hot tub. Everyone had a blast. --Alicia

37. For my daughter's first birthday, I asked everyone to bring a 2-liter beverage. I provided the cake and meat. On the invitation, I said "no gifts please." --Vickie

38. If you're having the party inside, line the floor with a plastic sheet. Let kids sit in a circle on the liner while they're eating. After cake, channel their sugar highs by putting on some kiddy tunes and letting them dance away. --Nisha

39. Avoid character themes when purchasing paper goods. Instead, buy solid color plates, napkins, and cups when they're on sale. Then if you have remainders, you can use them for other occasions. --Tracy

40. The biggest hit at our party was blow-up beach balls that had fish inside them, inexpensive items that we got from the Oriental Trading Company. --Kelly

Originally published in American Baby magazine, July 2005.

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