Covering the Business of Kids’ Birthday Parties

by July 26, 2018
cupcakes with candles

Birthday parties are now a booming business, giving business reporters a number of angles to cover. (Photo by Pixabay via Pexels, CCO)

While children’s birthday parties used to be modest affairs with grocery store cakes and homemade party favors, some parents now splurge on elaborate birthday celebrations, even for one-year-olds. Maybe it’s keeping up with the Joneses on social media, maybe it’s parents delaying babies until they’re more financially established in their careers or feeling guilty over long work weeks, but birthday parties are big business.

Youngsters enjoy bouncy houses, actors dressed up as their favorite cartoon characters, clowns, balloon artists and face painters, while teens dance to DJs and mug to photo booths at Sweet 16 parties and Quinceañeras (15th birthday/coming of age celebrations for girls, a tradition that has roots in Latin America) that can sometimes cost as much as a wedding.

Here are some angles to consider as you’re covering what is now the booming business of birthday parties.

Party service providers

Ask around to find out what party services are most popular in your area and talk to some local providers. What’s the going rate for, say, a professional balloon artist or a mobile petting zoo? Have any party planners or caterers carved out a specialization in kids’ birthday? How do these providers reach customers? Word of mouth? Sites like Yelp or Nextdoor? Is this a full-time venture or a side hustle? How did your local party princess or face painter get into the business?

Birthday party venues

While parents can bring all kinds of services to their home, some choose an outside venue for their child’s birthday party. The options now extend well beyond the Chuck E. Cheese or arcade options of yore. One kid even had a Target-themed birthday party at one of its stores.

How are local museums, aquariums, bowling alleys, movie theaters or other venues catering to this niche? Do they have a party planner on staff or contract with other providers such as caterers or magicians? What portion of revenue do parties represent for them? Do they charge per kid, per hour, some other fee structure?

Budget-friendly options

Not all of your readers likely want or can afford to give their kids a lavish party. Talk to local parents or budget bloggers about ways to celebrate on a budget, whether it’s DIY decorations and games or a simplified food menu. If you can give some good local examples (perhaps through local Facebook groups for parents), it might be worth highlighting birthday parties that give back to charity instead of playing up consumerism.