Friday, October 27, 2006

Birthday Parties on the Cheap

Well, it may cost you a bit more than a dime, but here are a few ideas I have come across to having a fun birthday party and not breading the bank.

Ah, birthdays, the time of year that my children look forward to with much glee. But planning the birthday party is not high on my Fun Things to Do With my Time List. I do not know about you, but visiting a dentist might be more little fun than running a birthday party for a kid. But birthdays are a time for my little darlings to have fun with all their friends and get a few presents in the mean time.

So what do you do to make a birthday party for a child successful? Two words! PLAN AHEAD! Having an at home party for a child is no easy feat that can be thrown together in a few hours before kids are likely to come.

This year for the 8th birthday of my daughter, we are had a princess party. So that was the theme of the whole party. I drew out a simple crown and glued jewels to the top with glitter glue and viola, those was the birthday invites. Each girl invited will get a plastic crown to wear when they come and enjoy games such as pin the jewel on the crown (much the same as pin the tail on the donkey), (for boys, you can use this same game and just change it to pin the skull to the crossbones for a pirate theme or pin the car to the race track. Well there are endless possibilities for this game! I was lucky enough to find a crown paper punch at the dollar store that I used for gluing onto the picture frames they made (cardboard frames that I punched out at a store that teachers can use and for those I bought stickers and used the rest of the jewels from the invites and then put magnetic tape on the back of so they could be hung on the fridge).

Another game we play pretty much every year is to put interesting objects (such as a large shell, a stuffy etc) Place one object per lunch bag and number each bag. Let the children feel the bag and guess what it is and make a list of each guess. This results in some pretty interesting answers. For older children, I play a memory game. I place a lot of items that they would use (my older daughter is a teen, so stuff a lip gloss, a pin back button of her favourite star, or earrings) Place all the items on a large tray, give the gang 10 minutes to memorize the stuff and take it away and give them each a pen and paper and see how much they remember.

Last year, my oldest had an Island theme party. Each guest was encouraged to wear their best island themed outfit, we had a limbo in the living room, (had 2 girls hold either side of a pool noodle) and played some Latin jazz, then we played pass the pineapple (much the same as hot potato) but using a can of pineapple (or a fresh one).

Another idea is just to take a bunch of friends and the birthday person to the beach. My oldest daughter has a May birthday, well this year we differed it until August and allowed her to have 3 friends stay over night and then had a big breakfast (courtesy of dad) then headed off to the beach and spend the day shopping (it is a beachy resort town), swimming, sunbathing and eating. I brought snacks and drinks and we bought hot dogs for lunch. She had a really great time.

As long as you have it planned ahead of time, the party can be a lot of fun. For goody bags for the kids to take home, I look for sales at dollar stores and the like and shop all year round for treats. If I see something that would be good for a goody bag, why not buy it then? Of course, depending on the season, you can also include seasonal related things in the bags. Items like a unique Christmas ornament for each of the attendees (which was bought after Christmas, of course and put aside for the following year!), or items that are themed with the party, like the crowns that the girls got at our party. For the goody bags themselves, we use brown paper lunch sacks that the birthday child has decorated and put stickers on. For food, I find that a cake is not always the best thing. A lot of little eyes tend to be bigger than their tummies and the cake ends up going to waste, so I either make my own, or I have been doing decorate your own cupcake. I just have mini candies, gummies and sprinkles on hand and let each child go to it. My eldest does not like cake (she definitely does not take after her mother!), so we have had make your own sundaes.

But no matter what you do, you can have a successful home based birthday party for your child that will not cost you a lot of money. Just be a little creative, plan ahead and make sure you have help for the day of the party (in case of emergencies, like what happened to my sister in law at the party for my niece. They went to a park and one of the partygoers ended up getting scrapped up a bit and his parents had to be called; so having extra help is great and it also keeps the party moving!) and your party will be a success, mom will have survived and you will have one happy birthday kid on your hands!.

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