It seems like every year, moms struggle with the dilemma of just what to do for their kids’ birthdays. Every year, children’s birthday parties get bigger, more complicated, and unfortunately more expensive . Combine that with the fact that many birthday parties, especially those at “kid-themed” places allow a limited number of kids and can be really expensive, and you have a recipe for disaster .
Here are some ideas you can use to create memorable themed birthday parties for your kids, year after year. First of all, consider a theme that will tie the whole party together – this will make shopping for supplies, food and a venue that much easier.
Secondly, decide on a budget for the party . Your budget should cover tableware, like plates, napkins, cups, utensils, and tablecloths, decorations, drinks, food, invitations, games, prizes and of course the cake. Decide how much you want to spend for every item and stick to it. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to create a memorable birthday party.
Next, take some of the themes you’ve thought of and consult with your son about what he wants . There are the typical themes like princesses or pirates, but maybe they will want to have a character-themed party based on their favorite cartoon or movie.
Now that you have a theme, you can go shopping and see if there are decorations and tableware in your theme. Generally, items with a recognizable character on them will cost more than a non-character item, so you may want o mix and match – go for the princess plates, but pair with the plain pink cups.
When it comes to decorations, it’s tempting to just start buying the pre-made ones, but this can be a great time to get creative and save money. Can you find templates or crafts on the Internet that feature the theme character? If so, use those to make your own decorations. This may save a lot of money.
You should also buy or make the invitations with plenty of time to get them addresses or passed out. You may be able to save money by making your own with a stack of postcard paper, a color printer and some simple computer design skills. Also remember that a lot of schools frown on passing out invitations in the classroom, unless everyone is invited. You may want to invest in some stamps and mail invitations out to prevent any hurt feelings. Giving families two to three week’s time to respond is a good idea. Or if you have email addresses, you can consider an online invitation like Evite.
So what should you plan on doing during the birthday party? For summer birthday parties , obviously you can plan lots of outdoor activities, from tag, to water play, to organized games. For winter birtday parties , you should plan on a few games and crafts in keeping with the theme. And depending on your child’s age, don’t make the party too long. A craft project will take some kids five minutes, others twenty, so don’t plan on an hour of crafts.
And don’t worry about goodie bags. Most of the time, they are filled with disposable junk that just gets thrown out. Save the money and spend it elsewhere or if you feel you must, sometimes a simple picture book – perhaps about the character can make a simple and affordable parting present.
Next up – food. The birthday cake will be the centerpiece of the whole party. Depending on your baking skills, you may want to budget the money for a store bought cake, or you could make it yourself. In addition you will want to have some snacks and “real food” – like pizza. Be sure to mix in some healthy snacks like veggie sticks and dip. And make sure you have juice and water. Skip the soda is possible. If parents are sticking around with the kids during the party, make sure you have some grown-up food – like extra pizza or a platter of sandwiches.
Some parents worry about having a birthday party and all the gifts that come with it – most kids don’t need more toys. If this is a problem for you, then specify no gifts and ask parents to bring a can of food. You can then donate it all to a local food pantry. In this way, you won’t have to deal with a lot of new gifts or thank you notes and your child will get a great lesson in charity.
A themed birthday party can be a lot of fun for your kids, but they can also be a lot of money and work for the parents. But don’t feel pressured to purchase everything related to the theme. At the end of the party, your children will be most interested in having their friends over, being the center of attention and enjoying themselves.