Low budget birthday party ideas for a 5 year old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 01:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Ds is turning 5 in 3 weeks. I'm on a pretty tight budget right now, any ideas for a low-budget birthday party? Thanks!

"That boy, Frank, he lives inside his own heart. That's a real big place to live." ~ Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) in Sling Blade
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#2 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 08:18 AM
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How many kids do you want to invite?

I used pingg.com for evites this time--saved some $$ there.
We had a pizza party this time, and the big hit was pin the topping on the pizza. (Like pin the tail on the donkey) I also borrowed a bean bag toss game from my neighbors that the kids loved.

Be specific on the invitation that the party is for 2 hours, and buy a small amount of food accordingly.

Or, if your DS goes to preschool, just bring cupcakes into his class and sing there if the school will allow you.
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#3 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 09:32 AM
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I did free evites, too, for ds's last party. We had a pinata. I made a homemade one but used old paint that didn't dry and had to run out and buy one at the last minute . The pinata was the only "activity". I spent too much on the contents, though. Goody bags are easier because you can make sure each kid gets one of each item and not overbuy. One year, when the kids were younger, I actually put goody bags with names on them in the pinata so after it broke open each kid had to find their bag. Then, they could pick up any of the multitude of beads I put in loose.

The kids just ran around the house and played for the most part. You can just set out bowls of chips and pretzels and have cupcakes if you schedule the party in the middle of the afternoon. That keeps the food expense down. The kids are too busy playing to eat much, anyway. Look in Dollar Stores for cheap colorful napkins and paper plates. I got mylar balloons from our dollar store. They last longer than regular balloons so I think that's worth the extra $. Plus they add instant decoration and party atmosphere. Balloons + cupcakes = . I usually send one home with each kid (we have small parties).

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#4 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 10:17 AM
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I had a cupcake decorating party that was cheap and fun. I covered my table with a disposable tablecloth, put icing in bowls on the table, gave them each plastic knives, and put as many different sprinkles as I could find in muffin tins, and let them have at it. I baked enough cupcakes for everyone to have some to eat and one to take home, so they had activity and take home treats in one. Huge hit with parents and kids!

DD: I'm bored and want to play Me: What about me? I can play. DD: No thanks, I mean a real person.
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#5 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 11:17 AM
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we bought everything from dollar store, I found matching plates, napkins and invitations. I made a caramel cake from scratch. We bought 15 helium balloons from dollar store, it was a big hit, every kid got two to take home. The party was from 2 to 4, so I didn't have to prepare a meal (last time I did, the kids were too hyper to eat much); we just had a snack plate with fruit, babybel cheese (a bit expensive, but we had only 5 kids), crackers and organic juice.

We didn't have to prepare any activity, the kids were super excited to play with the balloons. Most of them didn't want to leave when the parents came to pick them up.

Have fun planning the party


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#6 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 11:21 AM
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Dollar store! You can get decorations, plates, and goody bag stuff.

I usually do cake/ice cream parties, or some variation of that, instead of a ton of food, so much cheaper. My kids can't have dairy so I make the cake instead of buying it. And if the weather's nice, have it at a park and you won't need activities either.
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#7 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 11:35 AM
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You could do a make your own pizza and cupcake party. Cheap and keeps the kids entertained.

Since you're in AZ - it will be warm enough for outside games - you could do a water balloon toss, set up obstacle courses or do other outside games.

And, in lieu of party favors, you could do a book exchange - ask each kid to bring a book they no longer read and you could do a book swap and have the kids make bookmarks.
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#8 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 02:38 PM
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How many kids are going to be there?
What I did for my Ds's B-day was pick up Dollar store wooden boxes (they kinda look like treasure chests) -10 boys = $10 + tax.
I painted them brown then set them out on the kitchen table with lots of glue, sparkly 'gems' , glitter glue, shiny stick ons - all from the $ store and let them decorate away. Later I wrote each boy's name on their treasure chest in metallic marker.
I made a pinata and stuffed it with mark down halloween candy - in your case you could probably still find discount carts filled with Easter candy, lollipops, gum, stickers, etc.
We did a treasure hunt through the woods, it rained, they got soaked and went crazy when they found the skeleton (from halloween decorations) holding a chest of chocolate coins.
At the end of the party they bashed open the pinata and divied up the loot for their treasure boxes.
Oh and for food I made my own cake (rather than drop $25 at the grocery store) and we bbq'd hotdogs and had gallons of orange soda and grape drink.

The whole thing came to about 50 bucks and the kids had a blast for 2 and a half hours.
We had it on a Saturday so they had all of Sunday to detox from all the crap they ate before school on Monday
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#9 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 02:40 PM
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Oh! and also, kites are fun to give as loot bags. Again, the Dollar store usually carries them.
And styrofoam glider planes.
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#10 of 17 Old 04-29-2010, 08:06 PM
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I see you are in AZ, where I assume it is already pretty warm like here in TX. My neighbor is having a "splash party" for her DD who is turning 4. Basically, it is on Saturday afternoon for 2 hours in her back yard where she will have the kiddie pool out, sprinklers, water guns, bubbles, etc. for the kids with an Ariel theme (as that is what her DD is into, you could do something else like fish or beach or whatever if you want a theme). I know she chose that in part because she needed something less expensive than $200+ at a bounce house place or whatever. My kids are going in 2 days, and I know they will have a blast!

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#11 of 17 Old 04-30-2010, 08:14 AM
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We stick to small at home parties. I can not cope with the chaos of renting a play place and supervising lots of kids. That cuts costs straight away.

for DDs 4th birthday we baked bread. I made the dough before hand and the kids shaped it. Put a square of baking parchment with each child's name on the tray so you know which is which. It was too hot to eat at the party but the took warm bread home as the goodie bag which was a big hit.

For her 5th we put the paddling pool out in the garden and bought a bubble machine. We asked people to bring a change of clothes and a towel.

We don't do much in the way of decorations, just a happy birthday banner which we reuse each year. I also don't do paper plates/cups. We have some kids plates etc from IKEA which again get reused.

One year we planned to party so it was not meal time. We stopped for drinks and put out some sliced fruit but that was it. Last year we had the party after school so we needed to do food. We did oven baked fries and hotdogs and beans. All the kids ate something and it was a lot easier than doing lots of different things which always seems to result in lots of leftovers.

We did a "treasure hunt" where I took a bunch of pictures (old birthday cards work well) and cut them in half. I hid one half of each picture and shared out the remaining halves among the kids. They had to find all the matching pieces for their pictures.

That was about the only planned game. We put music on, this kids danced, played with balloons and I think we did a few rounds of musical statues..
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#12 of 17 Old 04-30-2010, 09:08 AM
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i just did a first birthday for my younger son but the guests were mostly friends of my older son (4yo). i fourth the dollar store suggestion for inexpensive decorations. for the loot bags i started hunting almost a month before and luckily my local bookstore had a sale on their christmas/easter merchandise. i got bath gels in santa/bells/holly shapes that were drastically marked down, a crayola craft kit from clearance at michaels, a sticker sheet etc. each bag was about $5 (5 kids). i bought cake from outside but you could make one.

games-wise, the kids were happy to run around for part of the party (1-3pm, so cake and snacks). i'd planned in some dancing time (rented birthday song cds from the libe) w/ balloons and a passing the parcel game. for the parcels i just wrapped those stackable boxes that we already had for the baby. each kid opened one layer of the wrapping to reveal a temporary tattoo that they got to keep. it was a BIG hit. after the game the kids had a blast getting their tattoos on.

kids don't care about the cost. if they have friends to play with that's all that matters.
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#13 of 17 Old 04-30-2010, 02:58 PM
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No time to read other replies, but doing decorate your own cupcakes or cookies is always a big hit! Put out a couple of bowls of frosting, and a bunch of toppings (sprinkles, mini choc chips or m&m's, colored sugar, etc.) No cake needed, and it serves as an activity too.

I usually print out free coloring sheets online to go with the theme of the party, or if no theme, just fun coloring sheets. I also take out library books that go with the theme and set them up in our playroom (for decoration, or kids who are taking a break from playing).

Not serving lunch/a meal saves $ and time. Pop up a big bowl of popcorn and slice up some veggies or fruit for a snack. Instead of juice, serve water and/or a pitcher of herbal iced tea (passion fruit makes a nice red/purple coloered one) and add some grape juice or a little sugar to sweeten.

You could do some kind of a game, like "stop and go" to music or something like that (CD you have, or one from the library).

At that age, kids just have fun playing together and running around for a couple of hours!

If you want to do favors, this site has some really great free printables (like little boxes that you could put a piece of candy in).

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#14 of 17 Old 04-30-2010, 04:10 PM
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For dd's birthday party last year (she turned 5), we decided to spend no money on her party...we did end up buying balloons and of course food, but that was it. We called it a dance party, we decorated with things we already had on hand such as play silks, we burned a cd for all the kids to take home with them (we already had the blank cds), and the kids just played and danced for about 2 hours. I served pizza and cupcakes, the kids drank water, and everyone had a great time.

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#15 of 17 Old 04-30-2010, 11:02 PM
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For DS's fourth bday we had a play date at our house. Because of some of his friends being in school, it happened in the afternoon. So we had some snacks, I did buy his cake-but you could easily make his cake/cupcakes, water for the children, some drinks (really what we already had) for the adults. The children played, made a nice mess, had snacks, cake and went home. Everyone had fun. And it was super easy and cheap.

If you didn't want people in your house, you could do a backyard play date. The children could just play or you could turn on the hose. You could also do it at a park. The children play-what they do best -you have some snacks on hand and cake and you are good to go. All for very cheap.

DS wanted to have a play date for his bday. We had done the same thing for his third and he wanted to do it again.

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#16 of 17 Old 05-01-2010, 01:43 PM
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I've done low budget parties several times lately, so maybe some of these ideas will inspire something:

1) Do an ice cream party- you can make a "sundae bar" for like $15
2) send e-vites to save on invitations
3) make your own decorations or buy cheap streamers and a few balloons
4) look up themed games to play online so that you don't have to buy supplies for games
5) instead of goody bags, go to the dollar store and fill a bowl with the number of prizes that there are children, and let each child pick something from the bowl to take home (this way you're spending like $10 instead of $50 on goody bags)
6) buy your child only one gift (or make something by hand!) because so many people will bring them gifts, i always feel like the parents don't need to get much, kwim?
7) make your own cake for under $10 instead of ordering storebought

I do these things a lot and we still have great parties. We also have a pool, so that's entertaining in and of itself- you could always set up a pool and sprinkler in your yard too for some free fun.

Jessica- married to David- parenting our 3 monkeys- DS #1 (age 7) DS #2 (age 4) and a brand new DD (born 5/10/10)
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#17 of 17 Old 05-01-2010, 03:10 PM
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For DS1's 6th birthday we gave him a choice between a party or a fancier gift. He chose the gift, to my great relief - it turned out to be especially fortunate since I broke my ankle a week before his birthday!

I think our most fun b-day party was outdoors at a park w/3 separate play areas. We brought cake & ice cream and invited other families to bring other stuff to eat if they wanted. Kids ran around and played. Everybody had a great time.

This year, for DS2's 4th birthday (tomorrow!) we are having a bonfire after dark at a family friend's house. We bought a mega-pack of hotdogs, some marshmallows, some soda () and some tattoos for party favors. Did the invites through FB. We will make and bring a cake. Dinner (other than the hot dogs) is potluck. I'm expecting this to be a lot of fun and I probably spent about $30 total.

Here as mama to W (2/04), R (5/06), D (7/09), and J (12/9/12!), co-parenting with my DH

I WOH part-time, am a doula & childbirth educator, home/unschool, and hope we are nearing the center of chaos


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