Mary Ann Ross
… BUDDY UP
Birthday Party ideas that are frugal, fun and memorable
Children’s birthdays are a great time to gather family and friends together. Keeping the party simple to save money is a question we often receive from frustrated parents who want to host a fabulous party without going into debt. With some general guidelines, think about party sharing.
Buddy Up with other parents to either share one big extra special party with time devoted to each birthday child during the party. If you do not want to share a party, consider sharing the re-usable party items, such as centerpieces, balloons, etc. and purchasing packages of the paper goods together, such as plastic spoons, solid color plates, etc. Often times, the number at a party is 10 guests while many party products are packaged in packets of 8’s or 4’s.
“The” shared budget – it is important that the parents of each birthday child get together to decide a realistic amount of money each will contribute toward the big party as well as deciding the number of guests each child can invite.
Deciding and/or combining various party themes is easy. Most likely, each birthday child will want a different party theme, such as Barbie, Superman, Blues Clues, and there are three simple ways to work this out. 1) Combine all the themes together in the decorations, such as various theme balloons in a balloon bouquet as the centerpiece; 2) set-up the party food table by creating various theme sections; and/or 3) set up a separate sections of the party location for each child’s decorative theme. The guests will love mixing and matching the themes by selecting their own choice of napkins, plates, cups, etc.
It’s fun keeping the honored birthday children and their guests happy by creating an overall activity-type party. Perhaps they will be happy with the same theme, such as cookie or cupcake decorating (already baked cookies or cupcakes with lots of colored frostings, decorative sugars, sprinkles), dance party (teach dances such as tap, modern, hip hop), model building (simple easy-to-do quick kits). If the birthday children can’t agree on a central theme, select one activity per birthday child and either set up corners at the party location for separate activities or space out activities throughout the party. If too many birthday children are sharing a party, think about a Talent Show asking guests to be prepared to put on a skit. Activity type themes are usually less expensive than trying to focus activities and games around a central party theme, such as Scooby-Doo, Power Rangers or Disney Princess. Remember to keep in mind the length of the party. Toddlers and pre-school children tire or get bored easily so party time, including cake and gift opening, should be no longer than 1-1/2 hours and think about having the party after naptime. Parties for older children can be longer, depending on the ages and activities planned.
Involve the birthday children in the party planning by asking for their suggestions for food, games, theme, location, etc. – all of which makes the party more memorable while spending quality time together with parents and their shared birthday friends.
Keeping the overall party plan is simple when a To Do List is created so that all the parents share in the preparations, hosting activities, clean-up, etc. to avoid a few doing all the work.
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