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Planning a Birthday Blast on a Budget

Treat your child to fabulous festivities without breaking the bank.
 

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Cover image for The Birthday Queen
The Birthday Queen
by Don Wood , Audrey Wood
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Every birthday your child celebrates is special. Traditional parties, though, seem to have given way to extravagant birthday galas with circus performers, expensive favors, and organized games for four-dozen guests. But you can throw a great party for your child with just a little planning and a small budget. So before you rent out the local sports arena, read these party-planning tips for practical parents:

  • Make Your Own Invitations
    If your child wants to help plan his party, let him design his own invitations. An older child can proudly show off writing skills by copying information from a master invitation you create. A younger child can make the cover, and you can fill in the details inside.
  • Mix Generic and Personal Decorations
    Most kids don't notice whether you use the generic cups or the Sponge Bob napkins. If there is a fancy decoration that your child really wants, consider splurging on one item, such as the cake plates, but don't feel compelled to have everything match. Solid colors serve just as well.
  • Field Trips
    A house party may seem to be the least expensive party setting, but other locations may be even more affordable and require less effort. Check your area for:
    • Kid-friendly museums (such as ones specializing in reptiles, dinosaurs, trains, or dolls). Entrance fees are usually low. Ask about cafeteria or garden areas where your group can enjoy a snack of cookies and juice.
    • Firehouses and police stations. The number of children you can bring might be limited, but many communities offer tours with the added benefit of safety education.
    • Public playgrounds. Some communities require groups to rent park areas while others have a first-come-first-served policy. Look for places that have a selection of swings and play equipment, benches, and open spaces for games like tag or three-legged races.
  • Entertain the Old-Fashioned Way — Play!
    Children can have more fun amusing each other than they would have watching a magician or professional entertainer. After an initial ice-breaking game such as "Guess the Number of Jelly Beans," even kids who have just met will likely be ready to play together.
    • Have a talent show.
    • Form teams for playful competitions like races to break the most balloons or fill a water bowl using only a spoon.
    • Organize a treasure hunt.
    • Let kids twist, dance, and giggle along with their favorite tunes.
  • Family Affair
    Ask family members to help set up and clean up as part of their gift. Older siblings can make the cake or set up the decorations. Ask relatives to bring balloons or party beverages just like they might for an adult get-together.

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