Does your daughter really really want a Hannah Montana birthday party? Is your son set on Spiderman? Are the prices of copyrighted character party supplies making you gag? With a little creativity you can create a special day for your child without putting a dent in your wallet.
Make your invitations
First, genericize. Having a Rockstar or Superhero birthday party makes your child the star of the party instead of a fictional character and is less limiting. (If your child insists, compromise by incorporating toys or your child’s drawings into decorations or games.) Then, take a photo of your child dressed to fit the party theme and use your computer’s photo software to make fun and unique invitations. For more fun, ask that your guests arrive dressed to fit the theme as well!
Let your child make some of the buying decisions
Have your child choose colors for streamers, balloons and tableware and take them shopping. Dollar stores are great places to pick up party supplies, and so are smaller discount stores. Get paper treat bags in solid colors (these can be decorated with crayons and stickers as one of your party activities) and choose a few favors in keeping with your theme. 3 or 4 items per bag and some fruit snacks, granola bars or candy is plenty, no need to go overboard. Get a few extra favors to use as prizes. Depending on your theme, you may even find some inexpensive decorations. Don’t forget posterboard, markers, construction paper and glue for making centerpieces and other decorations (if you are stumped for ideas there are plenty of patterns and suggestions on this site and all over the internet).
Games and activities
Many standard games, such as hot potato, pin the tail on the donkey and bucket toss can be adapted to any theme just by changing the name or decorating to fit. Some themes lend themselves to other activities as well, such as karaoke, treasure hunts or photo shoots. Craft projects like making hats, decorating treat bags or stringing beads can be used to enhance the theme as well. Pinatas can be great fun, and are easy to make. Again, the internet is a wonderful source for ideas.
What’s on the menu?
Keep the food simple. Chips and dip and punch usually keep your guests happy until it is time for cake and ice cream. Bake a cake in your child’s favorite flavor, and have your child help you decorate it. If baking and decorating your own cake seems like too much, consider making a cupcake “cake” by arranging cupcakes on a cookie sheet covered with foil or decorative paper.
Remember, it isn’t how much you spend that makes the day special. It is the thought and care that go into your planning that will make your child’s party a wonderful memory.