BY JAMIE LOBER
When you reflect on childhood memories, a special birthday celebration may stand out in your mind. By knowing your child well, along with what interests him or her, you can plan an afternoon or evening to remember. It can even be done in a budget-friendly manner.
Pick a Location
Some of the best parties can be hosted in the comfort of your own home. Staying in your own familiar surroundings will avoid the potential expense that can come along with using a restaurant, amusement center, bowling alley, ice skating rink or arcade. The local recreation centers and parks usually have space available to rent at a reasonable rate that may include picnic areas and use of playground equipment. An alternative is to transform your backyard into a safe and serene play zone with fun and games. If your neighborhood has a clubhouse, that can be another great option.
Pick a Theme
Get your child’s input and make sure they stay involved in the planning process. This not only makes for the best outcome, but helps them feel that their special day really is all about them. Some clever ideas that kids love include:
- Planes, trains and cars
- Talent show
Older kids may enjoy hosting a sleepover with their friends where they can stay up late, watch movies, make popcorn, play games, and have sweet treats.
Timing Is Everything
To keep the cost low, you may want to avoid having the birthday party around lunch or dinner time. It can be cheaper to purchase food in bulk. You can also get hands-on and creative. Instead of buying drinks, the kids can make their own lemonade or fruit punch, or you can make it and serve it.
Now, Save the Date
It can be helpful to do invitations electronically as it will eliminate the cost of postage stamps and store-bought invitations. Everyone likes to get a surprise invitation in their e-mail.
Let your arts and crafts skills go wild. You can make your own decorations and even birthday cake. It can be a fun activity for the whole family. The dollar store can be a great place to find a lot of your supplies and treats without breaking the bank. If you are willing to spend a little extra, you may want to invest in anything from a clown, to a magician, to a petting zoo. Some parents choose to enlist an artistic friend or neighbor to chaperone and show off their hidden talents like making balloon animals or child-safe face painting. Something as basic as getting colored sidewalk chalk can be a big hit that will keep the kids busy and having fun for hours. For other ideas, you may want to go to the local library and check out their resources. You just might come across a book with your party theme that you can read to the kids.
Kids love to make something that they can take home to remember the day. Some popular ideas include:
- Picture frame made from painted popsicle sticks
- Homemade Play-Doh or slime
- Bird feeder from milk cartons
- Friendship bracelets with beads or string
- Paint-by-number designs
- Autograph books where all attendees can sign and write a personal note
Simple games have stood the test of time and entertained generations. Some that you may want to try out include:
- Simon Says
- Musical Chairs
- Hot Potato
- The Telephone Game
- Scavenger Hunts
Bigger is not always better. You may want to follow the guideline of inviting the same number of children as your child’s age. For example, you would have seven guests for a child who is turning seven. Remember, the key is to create memories, have fun, and take lots of pictures. With careful planning and consideration of your child’s personality, interests, and whom he or she wants to spend time with, you can easily host the best birthday party ever.