Whatever the budget for your kid’s birthday party, you can create a birthday bash with panache. It’s creativity that makes an event memorable. To that happy ending, here are some ideas to get the party started:
Hand deliver the invitations. Present a mini “glass” slipper for a princess party, or a small dinosaur figurine for a Jurassic party, then direct parents to check their e-mail for the Evite. This will make a big impact on your kid’s party, and probably cost you a lot less than paper invitations with postage.
Invite fewer guests. No one says you have to invite all 22 kids from school. Besides, having just a handful of kids at the party is more manageable and makes your guests feel privileged for attending. Just be sure to handle invitations discreetly.
Double the fun. Divvy up the costs of entertainment and food by combining a party with another kid. Even if you hold separate parties when it comes to the food and drink, you could trim expenses on the location, decoration, bounce house, or talent by partnering with someone you know.
Set the scene at home. Your toy chest likely holds heaps of decor in your selected party theme. So get out the horse figurines for a pony party. Create a carnival atmosphere by hanging sheets on a line and floating rubber duckies in the kiddie pool. Run a DVD on continual play (Nemo’s virtual aquarium works great for an under-the-sea theme party). Insert a glass with flowers into a cowboy boot for an instant vase. Your creativity will find new uses for old things.
Turn your guests into the decorations. Have kids bring their own cuddly bear for a teddy bear tea party. Give the young buckaroos a mustache you draw with an eye liner and outfit them with a bandanna or cowboy hat for a Western theme. Provide home-made fairy wings, and rainbow face painting for a fairyland theme party. Or invite guests to dress the part of a knight, princess or pirate.
Skip the helium balloons. Standard balloons are just as festive when attached to chairs, walls or the floor. For an underwater birthday theme, try affixing blue and green balloons to the floor to create an ocean effect. Instead of balloons, buy some inflatable toys on eBay — they double as decorations and favors. You’ll find a selection of affordable 15-inch inflatables from horses, cows, and monkeys to pink poodles, swords, magic wands and more on eBay. Or try a festive life-size monkey for a luau party, or red dragon for a knights and princess party: also found on eBay.
Do without. Sure, you can borrow tables and chairs, but why not have fun with your theme and do without them? Set up bales of hay for a horse theme party. Sit on towels for a pool party. Create a faux campfire for a cowboy theme party. Or just put picnic cloths on the lawn for your guests. You can do without some utensils too, if your food is portable. Ice cream cone cupcakes, for example, make a substantial impact on your budget when compared to a store bought cake. Instead of paper cupcake cups, just pour cake batter into colorful ice-cream cones and bake. You save on plates, forks and ice cream.
Make food and drink memorable. Try themed shaped cookie cutters for sandwiches. Set up the toy farm and create a “paddock” for the cupcakes at your barnyard party. Turn a submarine sandwich into a pirate ship with sails for the little scallywags. Use colored sugars like margarita salt for your princess party drinks (just wedge a lemon around the glass, then dip with blue or purple sugars and pour pink lemonade for an ethereal look that kids won’t soon forget). Decorate water bottles with stickers in your party theme. You’ll find a great selection of affordable stickers in on eBay. For a pink pirate party, we chose a pink colored Vitamin water and decorated the bottles with pirate stickers.
Create your own themed favors and treats. Use your computer and printer to make new labels for candy. Send kids home with a doggie dish of dog-bone shaped gingerbread cookies. Wilton makes several great candy molds to make lollypops or chocolate treats. You can also use them to mold crayons or soaps to match your theme.
Hire student performers or helpers. The hired help doesn’t need to have artistic talent – just supply some tattoos you find on eBay and they can become instant “face painters. Helpers can also organize games and activities, serve the cake, help with the presents, or read a theme related book so you can enjoy your party.
Think ahead. Find candy on sale for the pinata after Valentine’s Day, Halloween, or Christmas. Purchase costumes after Halloween, but in advance of your party. Stock up on drinks and chips when they’re on sale to save money.
You can create the perfect party in your mind and deliver memorable results for your child as you save money. Be sure to include your child in as much of the pre-party planning as possible — you may be surprised at the wonderful party ideas that may surface as a result.