When it comes to our children’s birthday parties it’s all too easy to get carried away, and that’s completely natural. We want it to be as special as it can be, for them and for us. But it’s entirely possible to make magical memories without spending a small fortune. Here’s my top ten ideas for a budget busting birthday party!
- Arts and crafts are a great way to keep children occupied at parties and there’s the added bonus of everyone going home with something at the end forgoing the need for goody bags! Set up a table and invite guests to make paper chains from coloured strips of paper and party hats or crowns using card, feathers, glue and glitter; colour-in and personalise their own place mats for afternoon tea; or construct a giant cardboard birthday cake for them to paint!
- Fill a paddling pool with balls to create your very own ball pool! You could even hide things in it for the kids to find.
- Devise a themed treasure hunt in the garden or around the house. You could add clues in for the older children to crack.
- Have a painting party and invite your guests to get arty. They could create one giant piece of art or each colour in a different letter to spell out the birthday boy or girl’s name! Try filling spray bottles with watered down paint, using sponges or natural resources such as leaves, pine cones and bark to make interesting patterns.
- Tuff spots are perfect for party entertainment. Fill with rainbow rice or water and add cups, bowls and spoons for lots of scooping and pouring fun; make pretend birthday tea with play dough, cupcake cases, sprinkles and candles; or hide items in sand to be found. If you’ve got a vehicle mad child then add diggers, trucks and cars to the mix.
- Put on a pretend tea party with plates for the cake, cups and saucers for the tea. If you don’t already have play food then you could use natural resources instead. Perhaps everyone can bring along their favourite teddy or doll to serve too!
- The superhero theme is extremely popular and there is literally so much you can do on a shoestring! Build a mini obstacle course in the garden; set up a crafting table to make masks (plain masks can be purchased for as little as £1 or simply use paper plates with holes cut out for eyes and elastic to make them wearable); pin the star on Captain America’s shield; stick baddie faces on tin cans to be knocked down with a ball; stack cardboard boxes on top of each other for the kids to smash through; or create a maze of masking tape in the hallway for them to traverse under and over.
- Similarly, if you’re going for a princess theme, why not build a castle using cardboard boxes and blankets. Guests can make crowns or thread beads on to string to make necklaces then just add a box of themed dressing up clothes. Voila!
- Host a creepy crawly themed party. The kids can go bug hunting with small boxes or bowls and magnifying glasses (just be sure to put the bugs back afterwards); build bug hotels; imagining that the floor is crawling with insects let them try getting across the garden using pieces of cardboard as stepping stones; hide plastic bugs for them to find; or add to a container of water for them to fish out using sieves or nets.
- Set up a sensory disco in your living room with LED balloons, glow sticks and musical instruments. Play musical statues, musical chairs and that all-time favourite, pass the parcel!
Finally, just a word on goody bags. Again, you don’t need to break the bank or even fill the bag to bursting – it’s just a small token to say thank you. There are plenty of economical things that kids love which offer heaps of entertainment value (and that aren’t plastic tat) - stickers, playdough pots, flower seeds, cookie cutters, bubbles, wax crayons, colouring books. Or why not try homemade favours – flapjack, biscuits or painted rocks perhaps? And top tip from the playHOORAY! community - Lanka Kade toys are really inexpensive and beautiful – their animals/dinosaur range starts from less than £3 and are ethically sourced and traded (as recommended by Hannah Fay Ashworth).
If I can leave you with one thought, next time you are party planning, try not to pack too much in! The simplest of things keep little ones entertained and they will likely become overwhelmed if there is too much on offer. Often just running around with their friends is enough!
For even more ideas, pick up a mini pack of birthday playPROMPTS HERE.