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Rated: 13+ · Article · Parenting · #2054058
It's possible to have a lot of fun for a whole lot less.
If the thought of your child turning a year older fills you with dread and anxiety rather than excitement, realize that you’re not alone. Birthday parties, even those intended for kids, have gotten more and more lavish and excessive in recent years. And moms and dads have good reasons to worry -- the price of throwing a party can cause a serious dent to their wallets.

But fret not, because a growing number of parents are learning to be more and more practical by scaling down and scrimping on a few details. And with a lot of creativity and planning on your part, you can throw a birthday party for your child that's not just fun, but on a budget that’s a lot, lot less. Consider the following suggestions:

Decide on A Theme

Brainstorm possible ideas with your child and the rest of the family. It could be –

--Barnyard bash
--A day at the races
--English tea
--Superheroes soiree
--Children’s Bingo social
--Ponies and unicorns
--Arts and crafts

You can also ask your child about his favorite cartoon or storybook character, and then incorporate that character into your theme. You don't need to go out and buy cartoon-printed paper napkins or plates. To illustrate, if he likes the movie Cars and Lightning McQueen, you can have the tables decked with black-and-white-checked tablecloth.

You can even make do without the balloons and turn crepe paper and old magazine pages into festive decor, like paper lanterns. Letters spelling out the celebrator's name can be carved from styrofoam and spray-painted with glitter.

The Venue

Hosting the party at your home would be your best bet if you’re looking to reduce expenses. You can also rent a multi-purpose hall or even an indoor basketball court. Be realistic about the number of guests that you can invite. Limit the duration of the event to no more than two to three hours.

Email the invitations and skip the store-bought paper ones. But if you have enough time and are feeling creative, buy packs of cardstock and blank envelopes and design the invitations yourself. You can match the color scheme or template with your theme. Provide a map with directions if necessary.


You can bake the birthday cake yourself if you have the skill, or have someone do it for you. If this won’t be possible, drop by the neighborhood pastry shop or a commercial cake shop and choose a simple one from their selection. And then, personalize it by adding cake toppers, colorful sprinkles, or miniature marshmallows and candies.

Come up with all-time favorites like pasta, fried chicken, and sandwiches. You can also buy snacks like nachos in bulk and make your own home-made dips. Keep in mind that kids are usually too excited to even think about munching on a lot of food, so limit the servings to avoid wastage. Just have a dish or two prepared for your adult guests.


Download a playlist of upbeat tunes and songs to serve as background music. Have your child guide you on what's popular among kids these days.

You don’t need a magician or clowns to keep your guests entertained. Get one of your kid’s aunts or uncles, a grandmother or grandfather, or even a teacher, to play sparkling host. Ask your child's cousins or a few classmates to render a song or dance number, or play a musical instrument.

Prepare a dozen parlor games, and make sure everyone can participate. Try putting a new spin on party favorites, like --

--drawing a caricature of a bull or cow on a huge poster board as a replacement for Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
--tossing a tennis ball around for a game of Hot Potato, but ask each child in the circle to perform some sort of exhibition (e.g. dribbling around the legs) with the ball before passing it on.
--turning Newspaper Dance into Newspaper Square Dance or Hip Hop.
--obtaining a couple of unused garbage bags and have a sack race.
--asking kids to do clownish or ridiculous acts in Simon Says.
--having a makeshift photo booth ready by making your own props and costumes.

Prizes and Loot Bag Items

Kids love the idea of winning and taking home something from a memorable event. Instead of spending a lot of money on expensive items for prizes and loot bags, go to any bookstore or school supplies store, or a hobby store that sells materials for arts and crafts. The following can be enjoyed by girls and boys alike:

--Sheets of stickers or notepads
--Coloring books with a box of crayons
--A small sketchpad with student-grade pencils and colored pencils
--A book of puzzles
--Origami paper

Whip out your smartphone and take lots and lots of photos.

You don't need to pay to have a coffeetable book made, or even purchase a photo album. Digital scrapbook software can be downloaded for free, and all you need to do is start uploading pictures. You may have to do a bit of editing and cropping to make the sizes of the photos appropriate to the scrapbook template. Schedule a date for public viewing with your child and the other kids, and have loads of fun remembering the event.
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