My boys are twins and only one has ADD so we never really had to face this issue, HOWEVER, here are some ways that we had successful birthday parties before.
1. Get together with a family friend with a similar birthday and hold a joint party. In our case it was a very elaborate science theme and we asked parents to make gifts to charity because it was too much to buy 3 presents (we bought presents for our own kids).
2. Sell the *party* as an awesome party that just happens to be a birthday party. For my kids’ 9th birthday we had an elaborate medieval theme with 6 games and gold/silver coins, eat dinner with your hands, monty python movie, hunt for holy grail (treasure hunt). Make sure everybody knows that the party is going to be so much fun you would never want to miss it! I actually spent most of thanksgiving preparing for that party.
3. If the party idea doesn’t work out just say, “I guess we waited too long to invite people and everyone is busy” then take your kid somewhere. When our kids were 6 we took them to San Francisco ( science museum – exploratorium ) THEN we drove them to tahoe for skiing (again, thanksgiving week).
4. If all else fails have a family party but make it a production with a treasure hunt and hats and maybe a movie-night and/or sleepover with everyone in sleeping bags and pajamas in the living room (or backyard tent if it’s summer) – just do the whole 9 yards and possibly invite other adults or play games to fill up the place and make sure to have lots of fun! That’s the main thing, if it’s fun and your kid feels loved it won’t matter who came and who did not come!
Best wishes and good luck!
– Don Gillies