Parents love their children’s birthdays as much as the children do! Though we want our children to realize they are important and loved every day, their birthdays present an exciting opportunity to lavish and “spoil” them in a way we can’t afford on a daily basis!
You are excited to do this, but there is a lot at stake. Your child must be pleased, and his or her friends better think the party was “cool,” or else the birthday-kid is heartbroken and you are in serious trouble. Of course, all the factors of a perfect party depend on who your child is. Don’t worry—no one knows that better than you do! Here are some ways to make the environment fun and have a great party on a budget.
1. Home Sweet Home. It goes without saying that affordable parties happen at home. Maybe they happen at Grandma’s house, if she lets you get away with it! The neighborhood park is also a great venue if the season permits and you want to avoid kid-related chaos at your house.
2. Minimize the Guest List. If you are one of those parents who want to invite the whole class, think again! Some parents recommend inviting the same number of guests as the birthday. For example, if your child is turning seven, invite seven friends. The party will still include all of your child’s favorite people, but it will be much more manageable for you! Young people like the attention their birthdays entitle them to, but they honestly aren’t so interested in large crowds. Popularity becomes more of a concern as they get older.
3. Decorations. Balloons. That’s it! Balloons are cheap and they take up a lot of space. If you have a dollar store, you can save a lot on balloons. Balloons are the only kind of decoration kids pay attention to, anyway. You can also hide small prizes—dollar bills, small figurines, etc.—in balloons and incorporate them into your games.
4. Homemade Pizza Party. It sounds challenging, but the idea is cost efficient, and gets everyone involved. You can have your guests build their own pizza at a cold station and manage the cooking yourself. And what kid doesn’t to like pizza? It’s a fun activity with a tasty reward!
5. Themes. Party themes don’t have to cost a lot. The most popular party theme novelties can also be found at your local dollar store. Especially if you are going to be entertaining cowboys or princesses, look at the discount stores before spending high-dollars at party specialty stores. It’s also a good place to check first for invitation and thank you cards.
6. Pin the ____ on the ____. Instead of pinning the tail on the donkey, you can fill in the blanks based on what your child likes. An example might be to pin the crown on the king or queen. You can use construction paper to create your own or print something you find online.
7. Musical Chairs. This sounds like a flashback, but if you play your childs favorite songs, they will have a blast playing the game.
8. Freeze Dance. Like musical chairs, and not! Everyone must groove while their favorite music plays…anyone caught moving when it stops is out until only one person—the winner—remains!
9. Scavenger Hunt. If you have enough space to work with, scavenger hunts are really fun, especially if you incorporate treasure-hunting style maps and interesting, riddle-type clues. Make sure adult supervision is with each group if you plan on going out in the community.
10. Piñata. These are fun, they take time and they wear kids out! A perfect activity at the end of the party.
11. Wrap the Mummy. If you don’t mind wasting cheap toilet paper, divide your group into two teams. At each turn, each team will have a mummy and a wrapper. Set a certain amount of time to wrap the mummy, and when it runs out, the best mummy/wrapper team wins.
12. Guess How Many in the Jar. It could be jellybeans, marbles, m&m’s. Tell guests to start thinking about it as they arrive and collect their guesses at the end for a prize.
13. Cupcakes. You can spend some activity time letting guests frost and decorate their own cupcakes. It probably costs the same as a birthday cake, but it takes the workload off you.
14. Water Balloons. Anything that makes a mess is fun! And water balloons are a fun and affordable way to create new games and have fun outside if the weather is warm.
15. Shave the Balloon. Play this game outdoors, as it can get very messy. Blow up several balloons and have them ready for this game. Give each player a balloon and a plastic knife - if age appropriate - Cover each balloon in shaving cream and on, "go," each player must "shave" his balloon with the plastic knife. If a player pops her balloon, she is out of the game. The first player to shave his balloon completely with the knife wins the game.
16. Balloon Pop Relay. Divide into two, even teams. Have the teams line up at the starting line and give each player a balloon. On, "go," the first player in each line races to the chair and tries to sit on her balloon to pop it. Once she pops the balloon, she goes back to the starting line and the next person goes. The first team to pop all their balloons wins the game.
17. Rice Game. Pour a bag of uncooked rice in a large bowl and mix in 1-inch safety pins. Players are blindfolded and get one minute to find as many safety pins in the rice as possible. The player who finds the most safety pins in one minute wins the game.
18. Blowing Bubble Art. Place bubble mixture in a large bowl with a few drops of food coloring. With a straw, kids can blow to make the bubbles rise above the lip of the bowl. Then they take a piece of paper and lay it on top of the bowl to make a fun bubble picture.
19. Bubble Wands. Experiment together making different sizes and shapes of bubbles using different types of bubble wands you make yourself using pipe cleaners or slotted spoons.
20. Save on Food. Every experienced, frugal party-maker will tell you the best way to save money on a birthday party is to minimize food costs. Serve snacks, not meals. Involving kids in making edible art is fun for them and easy on you!