Thursday, October 6, 2011

Children's Parties Done Cheap

Ever notice the trend running toward more expensive, elaborate parties for children—everything from renting a water park to a small carnival. It seems like each parent is trying to outdo the next because they are. Teenagers often have dances with rented DJs and catered refreshments. Who can afford it?

Courtesy of my own children, I’ve attended a few of these blow-outs. Ironically, children are wandering around bored because the entertainment is provided for them instead of letting the kids play. Some of you remember parties with games. Here’s how not to spend a bundle and have fun too.

Cut your food expenses
Do not feed the children a whole meal. They won’t eat it and you’ll end up mad and broke. Cupcakes, ice cream sandwiches, even cookies are better than a bakery bought cake. Who can afford delivery pizzas?

Forget the expensive tableware that ends up in the trash. Go to the dollar store. Teens, especially girls, tend to like the cartoon-themed tableware available for a buck. Balloons are your best decoration and all you really need is hot air.

Depending on the age of the children, girls and some boys enjoy creating simple crafts that can be purchased cheaply at the Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading. Once completed, they serve as party favors.

Pre-teens girls enjoy a spa party. Back to the dollar store for some nail polish and face masks.

Boys and some girls enjoy games that involve running, busting balloons, and squirt guns—sometimes all in the same game. A favorite in warm weather is Capture the Flag. Even old favorites like Hide & Seek, Red Rover and Catchers still work. Don’t count out items you already own like your Slip-n-Slide. If snow is on the ground, gather up sleds for a sledding party.

Then, there is the scavenger hunt that can be played the traditional way or with old Polaroid cameras. The children take photos of the item. Your only expense is film. Polaroid photos can also be used as favors too.

Teen girls might enjoy a scrap booking party. Head back to the dollar store. The finished pages can contribute to a party book for the birthday girl.

Theme parties are a possibility if you plan ahead. Have a Christmas in July party by stocking up on items at the after-Christmas sales. Wal-mart and Dollar General lower their prices 90% after the holiday passes. Tableware and favors will be super cheap. One refreshment idea is to freeze ice cream balls rolled in coconut. They can be stacked to resemble snowmen. Kids can decorate Frosty before gobbling. Pop in a Christmas CD for music or even a DVD for entertainment.

You can do this with all the holidays, even Mardi Gras, because kids aren’t sticklers about dates. You can have luaus in the winter. Roast hotdogs in the fireplace for a bonfire.

The party is in full swing and you still have one whiny, bored child—at least you didn’t spend a bundle!

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