Shop the Dollar Stores: You can find great deals on toys and candies here, whether your goody bag budget is 50¢ a child or higher. Many times you can get 6 items in one package averaging only 16¢ per child.
Think outside of the toy box: Tired of receiving junky trinkets that break when your child looks at it? Goody bags do not have to be toys. For younger children you can include balls, crayons, or note pads. For older children you can give them themed pencils or put together mini-art projects or small activity books. You don’t have to include 10 different items in a bag. Instead of buying several inexpensive items, give each child one item that costs maybe $1. You can easily find coloring books, notebooks, activity books for $1 or less. For the goody bags, I usually decorate paper lunch bags and fill them up with treats. You can also use cups, ziploc bags, almost anything is less expensive than the party bags you find at the party store.
Bake! Bake! Bake!: Store-bought cakes are not cheap! And many of them don’t taste that good. Kids usually gobble up the frosting and leave behind the actual cake. But, if you make a home-made cake, whether from a box or from scratch, you can really let your imagination fly. With sales and coupons, stock up on cake mixes. They can easily go for a $1 each. If you have a coupon and your store doubles coupons… well, you can see how inexpensive everything can be. And the cake mixes now are so easy to follow and taste delicious! You can decorate with frosting, sprinkles, toys, anything you want. PLUS, it’s not all about the cake! Cookies make great additions to the goody bag. If it’s a batman birthday, give each child a goody bag of bat cookies to take home. Princess Party? How about tiara cookies?Food: This is usually the bank breaker! But, it is still easy to do. If your budget doesn’t allow you to feed the little guests and their parents a full lunch, schedule your party for a shorter period of time and not during the lunch or dinner hour. In the mornings, you can host a party from 10 am – noon, or if you prefer the afternoon, 2-4 pm. At these times, most kids would have eaten already and you can provide inexpensive and nutritious snack items: homemade trail mix, cheese sticks, grapes, watermelon, veggie tray, chips. I like to include at least one protein, one fruit, and a snack.
Put on the MC hat: Now this really helps you from hiding in the shadows. Depending on the age of your child, come up with 3-4 activities to entertain the kids. For a science birthday, you can wear a white jacket and conduct easy experiments. Decorate your cake or table with test tubes and jars filled with candy. Have your periodic chart handy and the kids will learn something and have fun, too. Or you can organize a small soccer game for that future Olympic athlete you have and hold your sports party at a park.
Arts & Crafts Stores: Arts and crafts stores are great places for inspiration. Their baking supplies are usually less money than at your party supply store. Plus, some stores like Michael’s, offer weekly 40% off coupons. If you plan ahead and you collect your neighbors’ coupons, you can use these to purchase cake pans, decorations and craft projects at a fraction of the cost. Target also has great deals when you first enter the store with their $1 section. Check the back end of the aisles to find items on clearance for bigger savings.
Decorations: You can easily keep the decorating to the minimum. Streamers and balloons are great. We invested in a refillable helium tank. With three kids and 20 years of birthday parties, soccer parties, graduation parties, etc… it was worth the cost. Remember, the small tanks you get at Costco and arts and crafts store may not be refillable. So do your homework.Birthday Party Basics!Birthday parties are a special time for your kids. If you let your creativity flow, you can put together a special day with homemade goodies and on budget. I won’t lie to you: It will take work, a desire to WOW your kid and the willingness to be program director at the party. But, it is well worth it. My kids remember their parties and the hard work their Mommy and Daddy put into it. They especially remember the themed cakes I made and the activities we created.
Here are a couple great ideas.
- Princess Birthday
- Puppy Birthday
- Science Birthday
- Sports Birthday
- Train Birthday