The first birthday party we threw for my daughter was at a local "Princess Tea Party" place and we quickly realized that partying "out" was not for us. We preferred to celebrate at home, with a small number of close friends. But my girls also like big, elaborate, themed events (they're Disney spoiled, and so am I!) so our parties tend to get a little over-complicated.
I made a deal with each girl that they could have exactly 5 of these over-the-top shin digs each --- from the ages of 5-9. Before 5 and it's more work than it's worth, and by 10, I figure they'll be into slumber parties: I'll order a pizza and rent a movie and they'll have to take it from there themselves. In the meantime, I'm enjoying playing hostess and party decorator. I do try to keep them as thrifty as possible, though I'll admit that it's hard sometimes with all the enticing ideas on PINTEREST! It's my achilles heel!!
Now that I have two girls in the 5-9 bracket, which means 2 parties per year, it's a bit more overwhelming, but again it's just a small sliver in time so I'm happy to give them each 5 parties that they'll always, always remember!
Below is a list of the themed parties we have thrown! Enjoy!