Is planning a winter birthday party for your child giving you the chills? Amy Suardi, founder of Frugal Mama and a contributing writer to TLC's Parentables, is a genius at finding low-cost ways to entertain. Among her many winter and indoor birthday party ideas, she finds that the classic slumber party is one of the easiest and most inexpensive parties to have. She suggests keeping the guest list limited to five and planning a full evening to include dinner, a movie and cookie decorating or crafts. Get your partner and/or nanny to help you plan and organize the special day.
Chris Nease, founding editor and party stylist of Celebrations At Home, likes to embrace the season by creating a cozy party that's all about warming up. One of her favorite party ideas is to make it a camping theme by setting up a tent in the middle of the living room and making s'mores with hot cocoa. She also likes going tropical (nothing wrong with a little sunshine in the wintertime!) with a luau theme, complete with leis, hula skirts and coconuts.
With the help of our experts, we've compiled a list of fun party ideas that will chase the winter blues away.
Swim and Slumber Party
Having kids sleep over at the house is fun, but even better is having a sleepover in a hotel where you don't have to clean up afterward. Reserve a suite or two at a suite-style hotel, where you can find rooms for under $100. Make it a swimming party while you're at it. It may be cold outside, but most suite-style hotels have indoor pools and meeting facilities, perfect for a winter pool party bash. Need a theme to go with it? Take our experts' suggestions and combine them to make it a luau-swim-slumber party.
Keep kids entertained for hours with a Nutcracker-themed winter wonderland party. Decorate the party room with hanging snowflakes, cotton lined floors, white balloons, white mini-lights and bowls of sugar plums (candies). Make gingerbread houses by gluing together graham crackers and decorating them with different colored icings and candies. While the glue is drying on the houses, head over to the cookie decorating bar, where kids can shape cookies to cook and decorate, or just fancy up pre-made ones.
Many craft stores offer Lego building parties, but you can do the same theme at home for a fraction of the cost. Purchase small inexpensive Lego and Bionicle kits, or set up plastic buckets of assorted Legos for kids who like to create their own masterpieces. Create a Lego party theme with Lego cut-outs, a Lego cake and play hide-the-Lego games.
Top Chef Party
A party where the kids create their own meal is fun and easy, plus you can adapt this theme to accommodate kids of all ages. Make it a pizza party with already-prepared dough divided up into small balls. Set out bowls of grated cheese, sauce and assorted toppings -- then leave the rest of the work to the kids. Use extra dough for dessert pizzas topped with Nutella and ice cream. Make invitations that look like menus and give everyone their own chef hats, aprons and wooden spoons for party favors.
Ice Skating Party
Why freeze outdoors when you can have fun on the ice indoors? Take the party to an indoor rink for an ice-skating lesson. Hire one of the teachers at the rink or from a skating club to teach beginners the basics and pros some new tricks. To keep costs down, Suardisuggests purchasing tickets and lessons on your own, rather than paying for a party package -- save the celebrating with the cake for home.
Rock Climbing Party
Let kids climb the walls all they want at a rock climbing gym. You can usually find one in most large cities and it's a perfect party place for energetic kids. They offer a variety of climbing structures to choose from, so they're great for children of all ages. If everyone's new to the sport, then go for the party package, which typically includes instructions and all the gear to keep them vertical for hours.
Hockey Game Party
If your child wants an action-packed party, take the kids out to a hockey game. Buy group tickets for a pro-level game or go for a birthday party package that's offered on the team's website. Sticking to a budget? Look for games played by local minor, junior or college teams, or check nearby rinks to see if you can catch local league games -- they're almost always free to watch and some rinks are even housed in "fun centers" with other activities inside, like laser tag, mini rides and arcade games. Or allow the kids to join in on the game by visiting your local roller or ice rink for a hockey birthday party package. Pack up sport-goody bags filled with hockey t-shirts and water bottles.
Theater or Puppet Party
There are always plenty of holiday plays and puppet show performances during the winter season. Take the party goers out for a show, then afterward, hit the town for dessert or set up an ice-cream sundae bar at home. Make invitations look like a playbill and include autograph books with pens for goody bags -- they'll be useful after the show.
Mall Hunt and Movie Party
Not only are shopping malls full of holiday activities during the winter, but they usually have a movie theater inside. Plan a birthday party scavenger hunt in the mall that includes lunch and one of the new winter movies.
If you're looking for more activities, check out Care.com's Pinterest page for fun game ideas. Planning your child's birthday party in the winter is not as challenging as it might seem, even if everyone's stuck indoors. Your child no longer has to be jealous of kids born in the summer who get to have pool parties and outdoor celebrations. Embrace the winter season by incorporating it into the party's theme, or take advantage of the public winter events. With a little planning, your child's birthday bash will turn out to be an epic smash.
Ilene Jacobs is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas. Her work can be found here.