50 outdoor activities every child should experience - How many have your children tried?
Is our fear of risk harming our children?

Less is more when it comes to kids birthday parties

Simple farm party birthday cake

I’m learning that less is definitely more when it comes to kids’ birthday parties. Fewer guests, simpler food, and fewer activities make for a calmer and more meaningful celebration.


Little Eco's birthday parties are getting simpler each year. For her fourth birthday I attempted a good-old-fashioned simple and frugal birthday party. On reflection I failed – the party was far from simple. There were old-fashioned party games and the food, decorations and party favours were all homemade. But the guest list topped 20 and I was busily preparing for days. I had my poor parents and sister cutting, baking, mixing and creating until late the night before.

A Purple Pear Farm Party allowed me to outsource without comprimising on any of my ideals regarding waste, play and food. Tricia Hogbin-001

I fared better for her fifth birthday. I unashamedly outsourced and she enjoyed a farm party. Guests were fewer and the party was simple, waste-free and best of all Kate from Purple Pear Farm did most of the work, leaving me to enjoy the day. The food was simple - fruit kebabs, pop corn and fruit smoothies. A farm tour was followed by a seasonal story about bulbs and each child got to take home their very own baby bulb to care for.

Only as many guests as the child’s age plus one, Tricia Hogbin-001

For her recent sixth birthday I finally applied the old rule of thumb to have as many guests as your child’s age plus one. Having less guests really worked and enabled her to actually speak to each of her friends - something I’m not certain she did at her previous parties.

I nurtured her horse obsession by taking her and six friends horse riding. She really enjoyed sharing something that she treasures with her friends.

A simple birthday cake with cake toppers doubling as party favours, Tricia Hogbin-001

Food was simple – pikelets, fruit and a bag of lollies of her choice and the tiny horse cake-toppers doubled as party favours.

Her next party will hopefully be even simpler. In particular I want to provide time for unstructured play – something that has been lacking from her previous parties. Rather than shuffle the kids from one structured activity to the next I’d like to give them time to play and connect.

I’d like Little Eco to grow up thinking that birthdays are a time to enjoy treasured friends, favourite foods, and a fun activity rather than extravagance and chaos.

[Originally published in the The Newcastle Herald 11th May 2013]

Do you have any tips for hosting a simple and meaningful kids birthday party?