My daughter turns four next week. It’s got me thinking about kids’ birthday parties. Should there be presents? If there are, what about the other kids–won’t they flip out if they don’t get gifts, too? Do we need a theme, games, crafts, decorations, a rented pony, and some blow-up games? Yikes! That would add up quickly. This year will be our little girl’s first birthday with us, though, and we want it to be so special. What is the thrifty family to do?
I recruited my trusty friends and family to help tackle the issue. They came up with some of the greatest ideas around. One friend has potluck birthday parties where everyone brings a dish, and the pressure is off in terms of also bringing gifts. She suggested a balloon and a party hat as party favors–and trust a mom of a three year old–those two items will be endlessly entertaining for little ones. Making your own decorations and keeping your eyes peeled for theme stuff (e.g. plates, napkins, party hats) on sale are other excellent ways to resist the trend of the over-the-top kid’s party.
I remember lots of my own birthday parties from childhood. For my fifth birthday, each child got a balloon and one of those awesome little pills that turns into an animal shaped sponge in water. That got a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs”, I remember. We also played “Doggie, Doggie, Where’s Your Bone?” for at least 3 years running. Who says a cheap party can’t be fun?
For older kids, doing a craft together can be entertaining; it can be something that both occupies them and also ends up being each child’s own gift to take home. My mother-in-law suggested having the kids make their own pizzas–you provide the dough. They could also decorate their own cupcakes.
Making food together is a great activity for a slumber party. Other slumber party/birthday party ideas are to have a fashion show, a talent show, or to dress up and act out a story–all of which could be video taped, which is extra fun.
For birthdays that fall during nice weather, the outdoor party is always a good option. It is my own daughter’s top choice, actually–the birthday at the park. A good friend wisely suggested that outdoor birthday parties for little ones are better off with minimal structure–the kids just want to run and play! Our park of choice has a sand-pit, so ours will not be a dress-up party by any means.
Our one coming together activity will probably just be to sing happy birthday and hand out pieces of cake. We may provide a little birthday crown for the birthday girl, and if folks bring presents, she can certainly open them. We probably will distribute party hats and/or balloons at that point to help keep the peace. If she’s still into outdoor parties when she’s older, we may consider adding the ever popular scavenger hunt or video scavenger hunt.
I hope these ideas have given you your own spark of inspiration for a thrifty family birthday celebration.