Make It Work
Hosting a celebration for your little one? Our party ideas are festive and fun — and they also won’t break the bank.
There are a lot of logistics to deal with when you take a bunch of children under your supervision for a birthday party, so here's a breakdown on what you need and how to do it on the cheap.
Photo Credit: clever cupcakes
Location, Location, Location
There are many great places to hold birthday parties, but holding the party at home can be a great money saver.
If you don’t have a space that’s conducive to parties, consider a local park, or, if your child is a winter baby, check out local community centers or places of worship for a low-fee space rental.
Photo Credit: The Truth About...
Who to Invite?
Kids as young as 3 can tell you who they’d like to invite, so ask. There’s nothing wrong with a small, intimate group. You don’t need 20 kids for it to feel festive — eight to 10 children make a manageable bunch.
If your child has a friend with a birthday in the same month, consider combining the parties to split the cost — and the work.
Photo Credit: larbelaitz
Nix the Clown
You don’t need to hire a clown or princess to entertain your guests. Ask a favorite babysitter or family member to help with games and activities like a face painting or temporary tattoo table.
Photo Credit: gaelx
You Don't Have to Feed an Army
Avoid food costs by holding the party between 2-4 p.m. By avoiding mealtime, you’ll only need to serve dessert and snacks.
If it’s a dinner party, order pizza (most small kids only eat one slice) or serve something inexpensive like hot dogs and burgers.
Snacks and juice boxes can be purchased in bulk, or serve Kool-Aid or Crystal Lite from packets. Be sure to offer water in case parents don’t want their kids drinking sugary beverages.
For cake, avoid the neighborhood bakery and order a sheet cake from the grocery store or Costco/Sam’s Club. Or, make your own. If you’re intimidated by baking and decorating a cake, consider foolproof, easy to frost cupcakes. Let the kids decorate — it’s a fun activity that’s also yummy.
Photo Credit: stevendepolo
Favors are important, especially in the 3-6 age range. It's your child’s way of saying “Thank You” to guests. But don’t go overboard or keep up with the Joneses. A favor should be a small gesture.
-Buy beads and lanyard and divide them up into small packets for each child.
-Give homemade cookies wrapped in colorful tissue.
-Buy stickers or temporary tattoos on rolls and divide them into packets.
-Shop at the 99-cent store for trinkets like balloons, yoyos and mini coloring books. If you are giving coloring books, buy a large box of crayons and divide them up.
Gift bags can be expensive, so consider using craft lunch bags or small coin envelopes from an office supply store. You and your child can decorate these, too.
Photo Credit: Klobetime
Make a Statement
For inexpensive decorations, create a homemade birthday banner with paper you have on hand. Make it festive with glitter, stickers, etc.
Blow up latex balloons and attach them with tape around the house. String up streamers to run from balloon to balloon.
A piñata can be a decoration as well as a party activity. Purchase them online, or try making your own.
If your child wants a “theme,” you don’t have to go overboard. For a princess party, purchase decorative plates and/or cups and use pink or purple accessories and utensils.
Photo Credit: chippenziedeutch
Liven It Up
Instead of paying for a moonwalk, play classic party games like Musical Chairs, Duck-Duck-Goose, Red Light/Green Light and Simon Says. Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey is another option, and one you can make yourself.
Free coloring sheets can also be printed; add a box of crayons and you’ve got another fun activity. Just Google “printable coloring pages” and choose from there.
Photo Credit: Tony Crider
Saying "Thank You"
Instead of purchasing thank you notes, make your own with your child. Involving him or her in this process will also the importance of gratitude. Decorate with stickers or make a collage.
You can also use a photo from the party. Just find a great shot from the day, print the number you need, and write your note on the back. It’s a great way to give your guests a keepsake.
Another idea: Take a photo of your child holding up a Thank You sign and write your note on the back of the card.
Photo Credit: eren | thisvintagechica
No Party? No Problem.
If having a party is really out of your budget, or just feels like too much work, ask your child how he or she would like to spend their day.
You can always suggest a sleepover instead of a full-on party. Invite kids to arrive after dinner time and just serve snacks, sweets and something quick and easy for breakfast. Other than that, there’s very little else you will need to provide.
For other ideas on party favors, invites, decorations and more, check out these great sites:
Photo Credit: durham_friedman