If one of your children has a summer birthday, you know that it can be a bit disappointing for them to celebrate their special day during a time of year when they are on summer break from school. It is certainly one of the great joys of childhood to celebrate the act of turning one year older with your friends in an exciting way. So in the summer it is extra important to plan a celebration that really makes your child feel special… but that doesn't mean that it needs to break the bank! Here are some tips to plan a fantastic summer birthday celebration that will create a magical day for your child without costing you a lot of money.

There are 4 keys to planning a successful birthday party:

Today we are going to cover how to pick the right date, time and location for your party.

The Right Date

For parents and for kids, the best day of the week to hold a birthday party is on a weekend day. Even though kids are not in school in the summer, they might be attending camp during the week, and trying to squeeze in a late afternoon party after the guests have spent a busy day swimming and playing the sun may not be such a great idea!

Just know that no matter which summer weekend you happen to select for your party date, there is a good chance that some of your invitees might be away on vacation — so you might want to increase the size of your guest list by a few children to allow for that possibility.

The Right Time of Day, and the Right Amount of Time

For pre-school-aged children, the best time of day for a birthday party is 10 a.m. — the kids are usually full of energy and you limit the chances of invitees declining due to a conflict with naptime. For school-aged children, the best time of day is in the afternoon (which gives you a bit more time for party set up the day of your event!). I recommend limiting the length of your birthday party to 90 minutes. This gives you an hour for activities and fun, and a half-hour for food, cake, and wrap up. (And if you ask me, 2-hour parties are just too long! Kids start to melt down and parents start anxiously checking the time on their phones!)

The other thing to consider when planning your party time is whether or not you want to include a meal as part of your celebration. While it is certainly more frugal to skip the meal and just serve a light snack and birthday cake, I've hosted plenty of kids parties where I have served lunch inexpensively by cooking the food myself ahead of time. Kid-sized sandwiches, homemade pizzas, and homemade chicken nuggets can all fit the bill.

The Right Location

A summer party gives you the perfect opportunity to have the event outdoors in your own backyard. If that isn't a good option for you, then check out the local park where you can usually reserve a play area and a few picnic tables with no fee or for a small charge

But every outdoor party needs a back-up plan, outlining what you will do in the event of rain. If you are hosting the party at your home, then your best bet is to include a rain date on your invitation. If you are having the party at a park where planning for a rain date upfront is not an option, try to find a picnic area that includes a shelter, and check it out in advance to see if it will be possible for you to tack up a plastic tarp to keep the rain out.

Another rainy day option would be to move your party indoors — perhaps to your basement if you have enough room to host your party games. (I think that having a rain date planned in advance works just like carrying an umbrella in your handbag — it never rains when you are prepared for it!)

In our next post we will talk about Choosing the Right Theme… one that you can easily execute yourself!

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