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Which do you prefer home birthday parties or soft play/bouncy castle type venues?

(19 Posts)
TooMuchCaffeine Wed 19-Aug-09 14:13:11

We have always had DS's birthday parties at home since he was 1. Now that he is coming up to 6, we are thinking of having it outside the home for the first time at a Wacky Warehouse "soft play" venue.

At home parties we have had up to ten children with their parents too and it can work out reasonably well we have played the usual party games, and food etc.

But since he has started school, I feel that the children are bigger and having ten 6 year olds might be a bit tricky, plus none of the parties he has been invited to have been home parties since he started school. Although he has said he wants a party at a soft play place my issue with it is that they are all the same and a bit impersonal, plus the food is not great usually. Having said that I can see the benefits of not having to prepare and clear up after - even though I don't mind doing that.

So which is "better" home based or play place?

TooMuchCaffeine Wed 19-Aug-09 15:56:54


bigpantywoman Wed 19-Aug-09 16:19:17

I like at home parties and the DD's do too but my DD's are having their (joint) birthday party at a local village hall with a bouncy castle hired - I will do a few games, I have some craft activities for them to do, and then tea. Can't afford soft play type do's and I agree they are all the same and crap food. Our house is just not big enough for an at-home party and we only have a small garden also. At the end of the day it's your DS's birthday though and it's whatever you think would be most fun for him. Last year we didn't have a party at all but used our Tescos vouchers for a day out at Warwick castle with cousins - my DD's really enjoyed that option too, maybe you could do something like that and offer to take and pay for a special friend?

MaybeAfterBreakfast Wed 19-Aug-09 16:33:04

I like home ones best - less noisy, chat properly with friends, and dcs enjoy it too.

Ds1 loves the village hall plus hired bouncy castle type.

Ones in soft play places, pubs, restaurants, etc less successful, imo. Impersonal, crap food, too noisy, and children get tired and grumpy.

But I only have experience of 2-5 yo parties. 6 may be a different matter altogether.

TooMuchCaffeine Wed 19-Aug-09 16:33:07

That's a good idea. I have just seen our local leisure centre are doing a disco party which is reasonably priced for up to 20 children. We have a big enough garden for around 10 children to play in - unfortunately his birthday is in October! In the past 5 years the weather has been OK to spill out into the garden on two occasions.
To be honest by the time you have bought the helium balloons, food and party favours, pass the parcel treats (I always buy useful things like little notebooks, pencils and stuff so price mounts up) the cost of doing it at home is not too different from not doing it at home.

choosyfloosy Wed 19-Aug-09 16:38:17

OK if i am brutally honest i actually like soft-play parties, as a rule they are very easy. You need to make sure there's plenty to drink at all times though, sometimes parents forget and you get lots of roastingly hot kids as they are even more excited than normal at soft play. It's very noisy and headachy too. If you want parents to stay at this age you kind of have to make it clear.

I do think that some of the nicest 5/6 yr parties I have been to are actually swimming pool parties. I have found them very low stress, physically pleasant as it's nice going into the water, the children have a wonderful time ect. Not big splashy ones in the main pool for older children, but anywhere with a nice learner pool. They are popular round our way because Oxfordshire swimming pools are excellent.

TooMuchCaffeine Wed 19-Aug-09 16:42:12

How long can you "get away with" home parties without appearing too babyish though?

DH and I have said we will have an outside party for school friends and a smaller at home gathering for family/neighbours, as a compromise.

I am starting to have an issue with having people in my house who I don't know too well - at school I am friendly with two or three parents, and on saying a cheery hello and chatting about random school stuff terms with the others. Would I want these people in my house - I'm not sure - we have not quite got to the going to each other's house stage yet. It did not use to matter to me before, but lately I have been thinking about it a lot.

JRocks Wed 19-Aug-09 16:42:55

I like the bouncy castle at home/ village hall types. Soft play ones are a nightmare, but easier as you have less to do (I'm told).

As a child I used to love the leisure centre parties where you would do trampolining then swimming then a meal. They seem to be less popular these days.

MarshaBrady Wed 19-Aug-09 16:52:58

Ds is only 4 so just about to start reception.

But I love parties at home because the food is often very nice, it's more comfortable and easier to chat with other parents.

Although the ones that seem to work well are summer parties, with a big garden. Which is not always possible!

When they start turning into strapping 6/7 year olds I might change my mind.

elmofan Wed 19-Aug-09 16:55:14

we had ds parties at home until he started school , since then we have them in fun places , last year we had 24 children , the fun place was great , they had quite a good selection of food & entertained the children for 3 hours while the parents had tea/coffee downstairs away from the kids , ds loved it grin & the best bit = no cleaning up afterwards , or house getting trashed wink

TooMuchCaffeine Wed 19-Aug-09 17:01:11

Yes the parties were lovely when the DC's were little and delicate - now they are bigger, heavier and move around a lot quicker!

I do have an issue with crap food and I think I may have got round it with this disco thing because they don;t supply food anyway, so we can bring our own.

So maybe the balance from now on is a hall or other venue, some form of activity for them to do, plus our own food, cake and party bags.

MarshaBrady Wed 19-Aug-09 17:12:42

That sounds like a good way to go.

And probably something I'll do too. Especially since the school usually do whole class parties (16 children) - who, you are right, won't be small and delicate anymore!

FritesMenthe Wed 19-Aug-09 17:28:32

My DC get a choice - party at home, with a theme (I love doing themes!) for up to 15 kids OR an outing like bowling, laserquest, legoland, pottery cafe with up to six friends.
There are loads of alternatives to softplay - leisure centres often do swimming, bouncy castle, football activity parties, and let you bring your own food.

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 20-Aug-09 17:33:06

The thing about themes though is that they have to be more realistic as the child gets older and is more picky smile

What do you guys think about having people you don't know/like that much in your house?

Karam Thu 20-Aug-09 18:46:04

Personally, I dislike both types of parties.

DD1 is a whirlwind, and I dread letting her loose in someone else's house, especially if it is raining as she is usually really excited about going to the party and so needs lots of space to run around.

But equally, I find soft play parties just so nondescript. My girls go to soft play most weeks, and so it is not even remotely exciting for them.

Therefore, I like the compromise that others have said... Hire a hall or somewhere with lots of space for the children to let off steam and a bouncy castle, or an activity type party - something they don't normally get to do with friends - like swimming or bowling or something. This year my DD is having a gymnastics party. DD2 wants soft play, and I've said yes, but we're doing pottery painting first!

bluejeans Thu 20-Aug-09 18:54:12

I've done both and prefer the at home type. We had one in a soft play centre for DD's 6th birthday and although it went well I missed the planning and preparation of a party at home! We've gone back to at home parties for the past 3 years, usually have up to 10 children and don't invite the parents. Sometimes I've asked parents in for a cup of tea or glass of wine afterwards but last year I couldn't really be bothered so didn't. Every year I think it will be DDs last party as she gets older but she always wants another one so I guess they must be a success

KEAWYED Thu 20-Aug-09 19:00:28

at wacky you can hire the place or the first hour while they are playing for £40 I done this for DS2. it worked well wit 12 children there who all new each other and you could let them run around freely.

DS3 wants his 7th birthday next year at the chill factor doing tubing.

FritesMenthe Thu 20-Aug-09 20:19:46

Caffeine - WRT having people in my house...when gthe DC were in pre-school and Reception parents are more likely to stay and it's a good way of getting to know parents a little better. After that age parents will 'drop & run' rather than come in. And I would ensure that the invited children are ones I am happy to have in my house.

raffyandted Sat 22-Aug-09 13:20:09

My son will be four next month and has begged for his first 'proper' party. So we've hired the local community hall for 2 hours which provide the bouncy castle and Little Tikes ride-ons and some soft play- type tents,tunnels & hoops.

I think for us this is the best option at this age, as there is room for all his class-mates (my son wants EVERYONE from nursery!) plus the parents who usually hang round, plus any other odd friends & their children. At this age they just seem to want to run round & let off steam, we've been to several parties in halls like this & the kids seem to love them. They don't seem too bothered about organised party games.

The hall doesn't provide food,Which i think is good asI'll be able to control all that side of things & hopefully give them a few healthy options as well as the obligatory crisps & cake.

Personally, I'd rather have a proper old-fashioned party at home like my mum used to do for me when I was small but we just don't have the room (small 2 bedroom house, no garden to speak of).


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