Parents are always struggling to come up with easy, creative, and inexpensive ideas for children's birthday parties. These days, it seems that parties at home are increasingly popular, often because budget-conscious parents are trying to keep costs low and don't want to spring for one of the expensive birthday party packages that are available everywhere, from grocery stores to dance studios to the local Chuck E. Cheese.

Sometimes a small party with a few close friends in the comfort of your own home is the way to go, particularly if the party is for toddlers or preschoolers. But if you're hosting a birthday party for hordes of your child's giggly, rambunctious friends from school, you have more to consider than just the cost to your wallet.

Birthday Parties at Home Might Be Cheaper, But...

Planning birthday parties can take a lot of time and energy, particularly if you're a detail-oriented person. From food to decorations to entertainment to discipline to the post-party clean-up, if you have the party at home, the responsibility for everything falls on you. Your wallet might thank you, but your sanity may not.

Parties at home can be great options, particularly if you have a big backyard, a home that lends itsef to entertaining, or a passion for party planning. And it's true that birthday parties at home are often cheaper than the ridiculously over-priced affairs that you can throw in many local venues.

But if you don't have a knack for party planning, or a great space where the kids can play, or the desire to be solely responsible for the entertainment and discipline of 16 of your child's closest BFFs, it's time to seriously consider your options.

My advice? If you can afford it, pay somebody else to host your child's birthday party. Let someone else do the planning and the preparation and the clean-up. You'll enjoy the party more, and the financial cost will be well worth it.

Why? Because...

You Won't Have to Plan the Details

My daughter recently celebrated her seventh birthday with a Breakfast in PJs Party at our local Whole Foods Market. I didn't have to decide what types of breakfast food to serve, or think about what crafts the girls would do while they waited for everyone to arrive. I didn't have to worry about the order of what we should do first, and how long we should allow to open presents. Whole Foods hosts these parties all the time, and they know what they're doing, so the details were already all worked out for me.

You Won't Have to Do the Prep Work

Preparing for a party at home means cleaning (which I hate), and shopping for and preparing all your party supplies. Some type of decoration is usually involved too. Sure, I could have hosted a Breakfast in PJs party at home, but then I would have been the one chopping fruit and prepping pancakes and putting together all the goodie bags. As it was, I just had to mail the invitations and keep track of the RSVPs. Maybe I'm lazy, but that's my kind of party planning.

You Won't Have to Deal With the Clean-Up

Little girls (and boys, I know, I've got one of those too) can be messy. But instead of worrying about the chocolate chips and strawberries that kept falling on the floor, I got to enjoy my daughter's party and take lots of pictures. I wasn't the one following the girls around with the trash can and constantly cleaning up their messes. When the party was over, we got to pack up the presents and leave. No muss, no fuss.

Okay, sure, we did have to pay the remaining balance to Whole Foods for all the fun, and, yes, it was a little higher than I would have liked. But it was also totally worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

My only regret is that, somehow, my house is still a mess anyway.

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