Frugal Kid's Parties
At some point you'll end up having a birthday party for your child that involves inviting other chidren instead of just family. If you choose to go to one of the many fast food restaurants that do kid's parties it will cost quite a lot. If you have the party at home you will have much more control over the price. Here are some ideas for "at home" parties.
Watch out for "themed" paper plates, tablecloths, etc. You can buy plain, brightly colored plates and cups for a far lower price than you will pay for the ones embellished with Blues Clues or Barbie or whatever. If your child is insistent on having that sort of thing just buy the tablecloth and use plain stuff for everything else. Once the cake and ice cream is on the plate it really isn't going to matter if it has Barney's smiling face on it!
Make up your own theme. Have a pirate party with a treasure hunt and a "Pin the Eyepatch on the Pirate" game (have an artistic friend draw it for you on big paper) for entertainment and bags of chocolate "coins" for favors. For little girls have a Victorian tea party...bake tiny cupcakes and make little sandwiches and serve koolaid in fancy cups. Or tie in the party to a holiday...I frequently had a costume party for my birthday because it's close to Halloween. If you know you're going to have a holiday type parties for your child you can pick up decorations, etc. at post-holiday markdown prices whenever you see them.
Bake the cake yourself (from a mix if you're not into the culinary experience) rather than buying from a bakery. Don't buy premium ice cream for little kids, they won't appreciate it and it'll cost a lot more than the cheap store brand. Serve kool-aid instead of soda-pop.
Party favors aren't necessary but kids really get a kick out of getting them. Keep your eyes open throughout the year for inexpensive trinkets that you can put in "goody bags". You could also make playdough (recipe is above) with the kids and let them all take some home.
Here's an idea for a combination game and party favor from Heather Hunt: Something I did for my son's birthday last month was to make bean bags out of scraps of fabric that I already had(patterns chosen to appeal to kids). We played some party games with the bean bags and at the end the kids chose one each to add to their party bag to take home. They were very popular - in fact because I'd made extra and there were some spare some of the kids asked if they could take another home for brothers/sisters. It's the first time I've contributed a 'tip' so I hope this makes sense.
From Sally Robichaud in Massachusetts: And don't forget the dollar store!!! I purchased all the paper goods and decorations for my kids birthday party there. The one local here has every color imagineable, ballons, streamers, and even wrapping paper. I will add a couple specialty items from a local party store and save a bundle. Have a little girl and tired of paying a fortune for hair accessories. I purchased all my daughters barretts and pony tail holders for a buck a package - now I don't care if she loses one because it probably cost about 2 cents vs. regular store costs. A great place to find party bag gifts too can be found here.
From Roxanne Douglas: My daughter just had her fourth birthday, and as she's in preschool, she wanted to have a party with all her friends...With ten plus children and their parents, things CAN get expensive quickly...we bought bulk hotdogs and if anyone wanted specialty meat, they brought it themselves, made huge pasta salad (just use salad dressing rather than buying boxes of "pasta salad, and use bulk pasta with all the veggies you want...add ham and cheese to spice it up, and don't forget the celery seed), potato salad and veggie plate. For games we played pin the nose on the clown (hand made on a big piece of poster board, and gave prizes of suckers), and we even made a piniata out of a balloon, paper mache, and paint (you can shape it however you like, ours was a giant sun with painted shades). Fill the balloon as soon as you've blown it up with suckers and little bags of jelly candies and such (really cheap from walmart or the dollar stores), tie it, and paper mache it. Then paint it, let dry and pop the balloon with a long pin. It works great.