One of the problems with having a child's birthday during the winter is that it is invariably very difficult to plan for outdoor games. During the summer months you can easily hurl a heap of children out into the garden, organising a variety of games which involve them running about screaming, burning off plenty of energy without risking too many of your priceless Ming vases. It's even possible to hire a bouncy castle and let them wear themselves out whilst you sit back and enjoy a nice Pimms. During the winter though, it's a whole different story.
To be perfectly honest, it's invariably your fault of course, since it was hardly your child's decision as to which season they were born in. But if you do have a child's party to organise during very cold weather, what can you do?
One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about bitterly cold weather is staying snug indoors, preferably under the duvet... which leads perfectly to the idea of a sleepover party.
Children love sleepover parties, and for you as a parent they offer tremendous benefits. To begin with your child isn't going to invite half the school over - you can limit it to just two or three friends. Your child won't feel that he or she is being short-changed, because the idea of a sleepover party is pretty special in itself, and no child imagines having a sleepover with the entire class of children in their bedroom! So immediately by reducing the number of children down to just two or three the scale of damage to your home is reasonably minimized. You'll also find your costs reduced too, which gives you the option of spending a little more on other special things. You could get the children to come over around teatime, and then all help to make their own pizzas or something.
You may even get the children to make cookies or cupcakes, decorating their own in whatever way they like. These can then either form part of the teatime meal, or be taken home as part of the traditional party bag loot the next day. It's inevitable that the children will not settle down straight away, and it is to be expected that once it's lights out, it's torches on and then a couple of hours of nattering and giggling. The upside is that the next day, assuming it's a weekend or during a school holiday, you won't be woken up at the crack of dawn by an army of screaming children. An alternative to the slumber party at home is to take a handful of children out somewhere like bowling or ice skating. Again, there's no need to invite a huge number along, and you may even invite parents to join their children, helping you stay even saner! By just inviting a few children your costs are lowered overall, and of course there's no need to worry about things like party decorations or party game prizes.
You do sometimes of course come across particularly cool ideas that are a bit different from your normal sort of winter birthday party. Like the igloo party for example. In this case what the parent did was to collect a huge number of shoe boxes over time - I think they had a connection with a market stall holder, but you can also ask shoe shops to keep some by for you as not all customers take the box with them. You can even buy them online for a few pence each - http://bit.ly/XLg7iC.
The parent organising the igloo party then spent some time, with their child, gift wrapping each of the shoe boxes in plain white paper. (If you have old Christmas wrapping paper left over, just turn this over and wrap the present with the paper inside out.) What he ended up with was a mountain of white 'blocks of ice' which the children were then invited to use to build an igloo, or snow fort. It apparently kept them busy for well over an hour, with minimal effort on the part of the parents, and with the children all confined to one room without any problems. One thing that will also save you a bit of stress on the day is to plan for a cold food meal, such as a buffet.
If you don't have to worry about heating things up or cooking them on the day, you can have everything made up the day before, and then just plonk it down when the time is right for the children to eat. So if you're planning a winter birthday party, you might think about taking inspiration from these ideas to help you minimize the planning, and minimize the stress. But if you've got any ideas of your own, please do share them using the comments box below!