Whether you have twins, siblings who share a birthday month or besties who are set on celebrating together, joint birthday parties are a great way to double the fun.
“A joint birthday party is when brothers, sisters or friends with birthdays close on the calendar have one big party together instead of celebrating individually,” says event and party planner Jordan Stringfellow, owner of Jordi & CO Events in Southern California. “In addition to helping shave costs off decorations, food and entertainment, joint birthday parties are great for busy families who may have a hard time gathering everyone in the same place at the same time.”
Of course, birthday parties are very much a matter of personal taste (and they only come once a year!). So how can parents celebrate each individual child but in just one festive gathering? Actually, there are a lot of ways!
From adorable backdrops to show-stopping cakes (to preventing show-stopping tantrums), here are eight expert joint birthday party ideas and tips. Sometimes two really is better than one.
1. Send joint birthday invitations
Whether you’re sending out invitations the old-fashioned way or, as most do these days, via email, do yourself — and guests — a favor by having only one birthday invitation for a joint party. Not only will this cut down on cost, it will cut down on confusion since everyone will know there’s one place and one time for two (or more) kids. Make logistics clear by including a photo of both guests of honor on the invite, or go with a joint birthday party invitation that has two distinct themes.
2. Get creative with cake
If you decide to go with one big cake, like the double-decker SpongeBob one from Lemon Tulip Cakes & Bakery, make sure both kids’ names are on it (and if you can swing it, a separate tier). But another option is to have two smaller cakes, one for each child, that represent a similar theme, such as the Paw Patrol cakes from mumma_cakes:
3. Have fun with party favors
One of the best parts of the birthday party lead-up for a child? Putting together goodie bags, of course! Let each child get in on the fun of choosing, designing and stuffing their personal birthday treat bags for their set of friends (or everyone, if they share friends). And you can even add a little cohesiveness to goodie bags a la Let Liz Do You a Favor by opting for little muslin sacks and matching messages but more individualized designs.
4. Manage conflicts
When you’re hosting a birthday party for two or more young kids, it’s almost a guarantee that heightened emotions (jealousy, in particular) are going to make a cameo at some point. Whether someone is upset over whose gift pile is bigger or who has more friends in attendance, it’s important to be empathetic and not minimize your child’s feelings.
“If possible, have gifts sent to the children’s respective homes or collected before the guests enter the party, so the day can be focused on the children and not on the competition,” says psychotherapist Justin Lioi, who works with parents on parenting issues such as these.
If a jealousy issue does arise between the two birthday kids, help your child manage their feelings, away from the party if necessary.
“Allow the child to cry, to be upset, however long this feeling needs to be expressed (as long as the child is not endangering self or others),” says Lioi.
5. Consider going gift-free
It’s a touchy subject for kids for sure, but some parents of multiples don’t feel comfortable asking guests to bring more than one gift.
“We’ve always told guests not to bring gifts,” says mom of twin boys Jen Ackerman, of Boston. “After a few years, though, we realized that people were going to bring gifts anyway. So we started requesting books, which the boys can share and won’t break people’s banks.”
6. Find common ground
Even for kids who are polar opposites, there’s likely some common ground between them. Find it and build upon it while honoring each child’s personal tastes.
“In joint birthday parties, the key is to settle on a theme that both birthday kids love, but that allows for individual touches, such as games or crafts that cater to each child,” says Stringfellow. “For instance, if both kids love to bake, build Legos or solve puzzles, find party activities for both kids around that shared activity.”
For older kids who have their hearts set on specific individual themes, a joint birthday party can still work.
“If one child is desperate for an ‘Avengers’ party while another wants everything ‘Frozen,’ that’s fine,” says Stringfellow. “Just make sure to have a variety of activities from each theme for all attendees to enjoy.”
7. Celebrate individually, too
If you’re throwing a joint birthday party for siblings who don’t share the exact same birthday, make sure you still do a little something on their actual birthday.
“We threw a joint birthday party for my 3- and 5-year-old one year, and everyone had a great time,” says Serena Howard, of Union, New Jersey. “On their actual birthdays, though, I made sure to get them a little cake and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ as a family.”
8. Try a split backdrop
Think typical birthday parties get all the fun? Think again! Whether you have one cohesive theme throughout or are making sure to honor each child’s wildly different interests, you can still have a fun backdrop that features both. And you get bonus points if, like the creative mom behind trendsntrinkets4tots, you can think of a cute joint name, such as Choo Choos and Tutus. Adorable!
9. Arrange a party-wide game
When kids are the same age, a group activity that involves all party-goers is a fun option — particularly if it gets kids working together.
“There are so many activity ideas parents can explore when kids are a little older,” says Stringfellow. “For instance, if your child is having an ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Jurassic World’ party, you can divide kids up into teams — archaeologists, scientists, map-questors — for a series of challenges with the birthday kids being leaders.”
No matter the activity, though, Stringfellow advises always having everyone come together at the end to work toward a common goal.
“By doing this, parents are building camaraderie between the birthday kids and their friends, which, ultimately, is the best gift of all,” she says.
Throwing a joint birthday party may take a little extra planning at first, but in the long-run, it’s sure to save time, money and stress. And, no doubt, it will be a day to remember — for all the birthday kids.