For my son Lucian’s third birthday we had planned on doing something special. For his first two birthdays we just had a small party with family only at our house. This year I was fortunate to win a birthday party at our local aquarium during a local winter carnival. That took all the guesswork out of what to do with the party.
Having a party at another venue besides your own house definitely has its advantages. Some of them include:
- Built in entertainment! This is especially good for the smaller children who aren’t ready to play games. Our aquarium had a scavenger hunt but we passed on doing it given the ages of most of the guests. It really wasn’t necessary anyway. There was no chance at boredom.
- You don’t have to clean your house! Need I say more?
- Plenty of space! No worrying about seating for everyone or how you’ll pack everyone in.
- Most will do the decorating for you. That was fabulous not to have to worry about decorating the room.
- No issues with parking. At our house there is no off-street parking and we have a long but skinny driveway. This always makes logistics tough.
- They usually provide party gifts for guests and for the birthday child. Lucian got a shirt and all the other children got boats.
- Clean up is a lot simpler. You don’t have to worry about your house getting destroyed, with toys all over!
- Guests were free to further explore the aquarium after the event was over.
- The kids could actually learn something at the party if you chose a zoo, aquarium, children’s museum, etc. Other places might have other benefits, like exercise!
Of course there are a few cons that go along with having a birthday party someplace other than a private residence. Some observations of mine:
- Expense of the party itself. While many aspects are easier and it can be more convenient, there is the added cost involved.
- Limited choices with food. Some places may require you have them cater. Ours had a kitchen area but with only a sink and refrigerator. Unless we wanted to do all cold foods or use a crock pot we had to have something delivered. Pizza seemed the logical choice but it isn’t Lucian’s favorite and was a bit expensive. Not such a big deal for us since the party was paid for but it could be a deal breaker for some.
- Potential costs for guests. Our aquarium party included 2 adults and 10 children paid. All other adults had to pay to get into the aquarium. It was a discounted rate but still $8. This can be awkward to invite adults to your party and then ask them to pay so either you fork over the money yourself, limit it to children only or ask adults cover this if they wish to attend.
- You still have to bring a lot of stuff to the party. Instead of having everything conveniently at your house, now you must remember everything you might need and haul it there.
- Guests can get lost/distracted/loose track of time and finding everyone when you are ready to get the festivities going can be difficult. I highly recommend stating a time for everyone to be back ahead of time so they are free to explore as other guests arrive.
- Time limitations. We had the room for a half hour before the party and the party could only last for two hours. Not a lot of time for exploring, playing games, eating, opening presents, having cake, etc. We felt pretty rushed towards the end and went a little over on time for cleanup but this didn’t seem to be an issue.
Overall, we were very pleased with the experience. Since Lucian’s birthday is in the summertime, next year I’d like to utilize our large yard instead. But I’m certainly going to keep this is mind for the future. It was still less stressful than having a party at our house and I think all our guests enjoyed themselves. It was nice to have something for the adults to do and I really appreciated the extra space for everyone!
Have you ever had a party outside your home? How was the experience? Feel free to share!