How to throw a kids birthday party on a budget

It’s easy to do a google search for budget-friendly ideas for a kids birthday party...  

More often than not, you’ll see suggestions like: send electronic invitations rather than buying paper ones, limit the number of party guests to save money, have your party between the hours of 2 and 5 to avoid serving a meal to everyone, make sure to bake your own cake, which will be less expensive than a birthday cake from a bakery, and have the party at home.

These can all be helpful suggestions.  But what if you wanted more flexibility and creativity while still staying on a budget?

Suppose your child is a social butterfly and believes “the more the merrier.”  Or suppose you wanted to have the party at lunch or dinner time, perhaps creating a party activity out of preparing a simple but tasty kids favorite, such as personalized english muffin pizzas?   

If you get creative, there don’t have to be any limitations.

There are several major categories to consider when you’re deciding which type of party is right for you and your child. Some of the major ones are theme, venue, activities and food. 

If your child is enamored with a particular superhero or cartoon character, that’s one option for a theme, which could lend itself to a fun party with homemade capes (especially if you find a good deal on pillow cases or fabric).

They could run around a backyard as their favorite crime fighting hero, or if you’d rather not deal with the stress of cleaning, both before and after a party, consider checking into a local park.

Having your party at a local park can have a lot of advantages.  Many parks have shelters that you can rent out for a specific date, for a nominal fee; and from there, you've got an array of options.

The most obvious ones are to simply choose a park that has a soccer field, baseball field, tetherball or volleyball court… and let the fun ensue.

But if sports aren’t your child’s favorite thing, there’s something exciting and special about a treasure hunt or a scavenger hunt.  You haven’t really experienced one of the great things in childhood if you haven’t witnessed groups of kids running across open fields and squealing in excitement when they find a treasure.

The treasure itself is not that important.  You can even use gold spray paint to paint some rocks, as an inexpensive yet cool prize.

As for crafts that can be done outside, the possibilities are abundant.  Using some wooden dowels and colorful ribbon, kids can create ribbon dancers. 

Another activity could be creating tye dye coffee filters. The only expense is a bulk box of coffee filters, some markers and a spray bottle.  After they color their design on the coffee filter, they spray it with water and watch the colors “bleed” into a cool pattern.

As for ideas to lower the stress for mom and dad, consider hiring some neighborhood teenagers who are good with kids and can assist little kids with projects like these.  Teenagers are usually willing to help for a reasonable hourly fee, and it always helps to have an extra pair of helping hands.

As for food, usually the simpler, the better.  Some hawaiian rolls with turkey slices can be made ahead, with fruit kabobs on the side. And then going to the extra effort of making a homemade cake will mean you have a truly unique dessert to celebrate the day, creating lifetime memories..