Free, Cheap Birthday Party Ideas for Children

 My friend posed an excellent question recently. Is it necessary, she wondered, to throw a big party for birthdays? While I think birthday parties are nice, particularly for kids, they can get out of hand, price-wise. I know many people to blow several hundred bucks just on the party. That doesn't even cover gifts. Ridiculous. And it serves no purpose except setting up a horrific case of attitude of expectation in the child. The last thing you want is the green-eyed greed monster biting your child.

As a homeschooling mom to four kids, I've planned a plethora of kids' party activities. I'm also a teacher and I've hosted numerous classroom events. I've had some great successes and colossal fails. From those experiences, I've compiled a list of tips for parents on party planning for children. Being a frugalista, these party planning hints focus on cheap, homemade party activities.

* Keep kids party activities simple. Birthday parties for children should be fun for parents, too. And they won't be if you're stressed out. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Contrary to popular belief, kids are very easy to please. Most (regardless of age) would rather just play with friends at birthday parties for children than have the fancy-schmancy trappings.

* Skip the overpriced d├ęcor for birthday parties for children. DIY it. Use free printable party supplies. Put the money you save toward presents. Your kids will enjoy gifts more than throw-away decorations (Mother Earth appreciates it too).

* Do birthday parties for children at a park, beach or playground. Some kid party venues charge $15 per guest. Parks are free and often have bathrooms and trash cans for ease of cleanup. Park parties mean less wear and tear on your backyard, too. You can run over-rambunctious guests and circumvent potential behavior problems. Choose one close to home, in case of emergencies.

* Limit guest list at birthday parties for children. My kids party planning rule of thumb is one guest for every year the child is old, including siblings and the birthday child. I don't recommend whole-class parties; guests who are invited only because parents force it often feel left out. And please, speaking as a teacher, don't let kids distribute invitations at school. This always causes drama and hurt feelings.

* Award everyone (or no one) a prize for party activities for kids. Competitive games at birthday parties for children don't work for several reasons. It's sometimes difficult to determine who won. It encourages greed and ruthlessness. Avoid prizes and also keep little take-home junk bags simple. If you do a giveaway at birthday parties for children, make it something useful. Make-it-take-it crafts do double duty as party activities and giveaways.

* Keep food simple in kids party planning. Picnic foods are great for a kids party-- hamburgers or hot dogs (precooked and stored in foil-covered, disposable pans). Pre-made sandwiches work well, too. Or order pizza. Little Caesars sells large Hot and Ready single-topping pizzas under $6. Provide water bottles, juice boxes or small cans of soda. Serve individually-packages ice cream novelties. Don't bother with a cake. Most goes to waste. Make cupcakes and let kids decorate their own. Or serve packaged cupcakes. Pop in candles before serving so you can sing to the birthday child.
These party planning tips make for win-win kids parties

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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