Time to Party!

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Here is some great advice from a local event planner from Much Ado About You on how to throw a fabulous birthday party without breaking the bank!  Emmy writes:

“In the last several years we have been spoiled with one children’s party venue after another popping up all over town. There is no denying that these places offer a valuable service of easing the stress level when it comes to preparing for your child’s celebration. With little planning, no cleaning, no cooking… these venues are a godsend! But these days, spending $500 to $1000 on a child’s birthday party may seem a bit extravagant. With the state of the economy, likely the last thing in your budget right now is money for a grandiose birthday party for your child. Not to fear… with a little time, a bit of preparation, and some creativity you can throw your little one an unforgettable, talk-of-the-town event without breaking the bank

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Be Creative (or Be Resourceful)   If you are not an out-of-the-box thinker, take advantage of those who are. There are many websites, books, and magazines devoted to creative party ideas. One of my favorites is www.birthdaypartyideas.com. It is not a fancy site by any means, but offers a great forum for people to share their creative party ideas. They are ranked, and sorted by age group, which makes it simple to use.

2. Don’t Overdo It!  This is hard to say coming from a total over-achiever, but when the budget is tight you have to remember to try to keep things simple. Kids don’t need a lot to satisfy their joy. Keep in mind that the party is for the kids, not their parents! It is much easier to impress a six year old, than your girlfriends.

3. Don’t Over-Invite  I know you would love to include everyone your child has ever had a playdate with, but again, keep in mind that this is a party for your child’s friends, not your friends. I have often heard of parents limiting the number of guests to the age of the child, and I think that is a fabulous idea. For a five year old, five friends should be more than enough, and will avoid over-stimulation. Set up, clean up, and all the preparation will be much easier if you are planning for a limited number of children.

That said, here are some fun party ideas to get you thinking:

Spa Party

This party would be best for a group of five to eight girls, ages 5 and up.

For the invitations buy inexpensive hand-held mirrors (I have found them at Big Lots! for under $2) and hand write the invitation on the mirror with a Sharpie. Ask your guests to arrive in their bathrobes, ready to be pampered.

You will need at least 2-3 adults to help with the “pampering,” so ask your friends to stick around and participate, instead of just dropping their kids off at the party. Set up “Spa Chairs” for the girls with a tub of warm water for foot soaking. You can decorate the chairs by tying fabric sashes on them, using inexpensive fabric, cut into strips. Buy plastic storage containers to use as the foot tubs (you can re-use them for organizing your shoes… win, win). While the girls are soaking their feet, give them face masks with cucumber slices, put their hair in sponge curlers, or give them a hand massage. When they are done soaking, paint their toes. Be sure to provide “tea” and cookies while they are relaxing. Let them enjoy feeling grown-up, but keep all activities age-appropriate (ie. don’t put a bunch of make-up on 7 year old girls.)

After the girls have been primped and pampered, throw a bunch of blankets and pillows on the floor and let them watch a movie while you serve pizza or popcorn. If they are old enough, make it an overnighter.

For a party favor, give them a small manicure set or some toe separators.

The girls will have a great time and feel like they were spoiled, but the best part is that you can do this entire party for under $100!

Invites: $10-20
Spa Supplies:$40
Food: $20-30
Favors: $15

Treasure Hunt

This party would be best for a group of 5-8 boys (but girls would enjoy it too, if you have a mixed group), ages 4 to 8.

First you will need to create a treasure hunt. If possible, take the kids on a real adventure by sending them around the neighborhood. You can ask friendly neighbors to hold clues (maybe one would even be willing to dress up as a pirate and “duel” with a child for the next clue), hide some around the street (under bushes, behind trees, etc.), and maybe even end in a location with sand where the treasure could actually be buried!

For the invitations use brown postal wrapping paper and create a large treasure map. This map will actually lead to the “treasure” that the kids will be searching for, so you will want to have the starting point be where the party begins (which could be your house, the beach, a park, etc.), and then have simple pictures mapping out the route. At each location they will receive a clue to lead them to the next location, so the map doesn’t have to be to scale or even have correct directions. Instead, perhaps draw a house (for the starting point) then draw a path to a tree. The clue they get at the house will say something like, “On the corner of the block, at 5th and Main, ye’ll find a rather large tree, search nearby for your next clue, for there is where she be.” Depending on the age range of the children, and how complicated you make the clues, allow for three to five stops on the route to the treasure.

When you are finished creating the map, “age” it by crumbling it up, burning the edges, and in general giving it a dirty “been-around-for-a-hundred-years” kind of look. Cut up the map into as many pieces as kids you will be inviting. On the back of each map piece glue an invitation telling the guests that a piece of this map has been sent out to each of the best treasure seekers in the land, and that if they would like a piece of the loot they must come together on such-and-such a date to put the map back together and find the treasure. You can even ask your guests to come dressed as pirates.

Fill the treasure chest with fun stuff for the kids to take home as their party favor: gold coins, “gems,” pretend swords (you can buy very inexpensive inflatable swords at a party supply store), candy, etc. Serve cake and ice cream, open presents, and call it a day!

Once again, the best part is that this entire party will cost you less than $100!

Invites: under $5
Party Supplies: $20
Food: $20
Favors: $20

Emmy Blakely is the founder of Much Ado About You Event Planners and Custom Design Company, specializing in invitations and personalized planning products. Her most important job title however is Mommy of six year old Beau.


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  1. 1
    mom2three says:

    Great tips! I feel like people are definitely starting to do simpler parties and I love it. It reminds me of when we were all kids and just being with friends and having cake was treat enough!

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