When we first moved back to the UK from USA we tried to have home birthday parties for our children. It did not work so well as all the parents stayed ! Our picture of 2 hours of cake, juice and party games was not at all what they were used to. The expectation was for professional entertainment and catering including alcohol and nibbles for the parents !
We quickly stopped participating, our children when invited to do amazing things were allowed to go but we decided that we did not feel the need to reciprocate. It worked quite well that Master Shoestring's birthday is in the middle of the Summer holidays so he could usually just get away with inviting people home for pizza and a movie at another time. That is what we shall be doing this year too as he turns 14 !
All his friends will be invited over one weekend, they will go off and play football at the local park, have homemade pizza and cake for tea, then watch a movie hired at low or no cost and then go home with perhaps 1 or 2 who live quite far away stopping over for a sleepover. The important thing for Master Shoestring is that he gets to have a fun time with friends, it does not have to be zooming around Silverstone in F2 cars at a cost of £200 per person !
He does really enjoy all the amazing things others do at their birthday parties and we are grateful to the generous families who invite him, even though they know that their child will not get a similar invitation back, but we just do not feel the need to participate in a birthday party 'arms' race and are so glad that we decided this early on !!