Both my kids have birthdays in changeable cold weather months. My daughter falls in the beginning of April and my son in the middle of November, so planning an outdoor party has never been much of an option.
I used to envy other parents with summer-born children with all those wonderful backyard parties, swimming pool and amusement park birthdays. My kids don't get the luxury of nearly-guaranteed sunny weather, so I've learned to get creative when looking for birthday solutions.
1. If the weather looks to be reasonable (not raining, snowing or terribly windy), arrange a scavenger hunt outside followed by cake and presents inside. That way the bulk of the energy burning happens outside in the fresh (but slightly chilly) air.
2. If your group is going to be small, find a local hotel with an indoor pool and rent a room (or two adjoining rooms). The kids can swim, and the coolness factor of spending a night at a hotel is not to be underestimated.
3. Speaking of swim parties, if you've got a larger group, call around to universities and private schools. Many of them rent out their indoor pools for group parties. I got lucky and someone tipped me off to a retirement home that's up the road – they rent their indoor pool (and accompanying lunchroom) for a song!
4. If the birthday is on a weekday night, call a local pizza parlor and see if they'd be willing to section off an area or a back room and have a pizza party! Week nights usually tend to be slower, and most places would be willing to indulge. Some fast food restaurants (Chick-Fil-A and McDonalds come to mind) already offer this.
5. Organize a volunteer party! Get the kids together and have them paint a room in a church, or help out at a food pantry or an animal shelter. Go out for ice cream or pizza afterward and you've got a day of fun with a lasting message.
6. If you've got a large living room or basement that can accommodate the group, have a movie party! Show the latest DVD release they're all crazy to see or a double-feature of two all-time favorites. Play movie trivia! Invite the attendees to come as their favorite movie character and give out fake "Oscars" as prizes (you can find cheap plastic statues at Amazon or OrientalTrading.com).
7. Have a gaming party! Borrow a system (or two) from a neighbor or family member if you need to and organize tournaments. You can also set up board games like Monopoly or Pictionary – or if you're really adventurous, Twister!
8. Girls love their pamper parties! Hire some older teen girls to come in and give manicures, pedicures or style hair. Be sure and take before and after shots!
9. Have a cupcake decorating party! Bake a few dozen cupcakes, put out bowls of frosting, sprinkles, candy pieces and tubes of colored "writing" icing. You can buy small cardboard boxes at any craft store for them to take a cupcake or two home with them.
10. Host a karaoke party! Even if you don't own a machine, if you've got internet access, you've got a party. A simple RGB cable can connect a laptop to your TV (if it's a fairly recent model). YouTube has tons of karaoke tracks, and so do several other websites. Provide them a toy microphone, and encourage everyone to dress like a rock star.
Cold weather birthdays are always a challenge, but keeping the focus on fun with a healthy dose of creativity will give your kid a party to remember for years to come!