I typically have my older kids birthdays somewhere where the activities are preplanned (skating rink, bowling alley, etc) or the movies are fun and then back to the house for cake and ice cream. I have also let my older son take 3 of his friends to a professional ice hockey game (they were offering a family 4 pack for $100 which included tickets, hot dogs and drinks - great deal!) - he's thinking about a NC State college basketball game for this year's birthday.
My 8 yo daughter this past year did a sleepover. I made TONS of cupcakes and bought all kinds of decorator icings, sprinkles, powdered sugars, etc and let them decorate their own - it was a hit! Then I rented a whole bunch of redbox movies and let them all sack out in the living room.
We've also done parties at the local playground which is great for 5-6 year olds if the weather's nice!
at 3:20 PM on Jan. 8, 2010