It doesn’t take a large bank account to throw a terrific children’s birthday party. By determining the budget first, the parents throwing the party can keep costs under control. A good starting place is a family planning meeting in which the whole family works together to plan the perfect party that will be fun for the birthday child and his or her guests – and come in on budget.
The Guest List Should Match the Birthday Child’s Age
As a general guideline, the guest list ought not exceed more than one guest for each year of the birthday child. For example, if this is a child’s third birthday, three additional three or near three-year-olds plus parents would be enough. When the child is turning eight, a guest list of eight other children would be a good size. Simpler is often better when it comes to observing a birthday milestone .
Birthday Parties on the Road
There are so many places to host a birthday party:
- At home inside or out, weather pending.
- The nearest playground with a picnic.
- A local park with a nature trail and facilities to grill burgers and hotdogs.
- The beach or pool in the summer.
- The zoo.
- A movie theatre.
- A fast-food restaurant that caters birthday parties.
- A community club house.
- A community theatre running a child-appropriate show.
- Museums geared for children.
Birthday Parties With a Theme Make Planning and Participating Easier
Parties with a theme make planning and gift-selecting easier. Some potential themes for a child’s birthday party include:
- An animal theme in which guests come as their favorite animal or use craft materials provided at the party to make animal masks.
- A popular children’s movie theme, including time to watch the movie at the party.
- A tea party with dress up clothing provided for the guests.
- An adventure theme with a child-appropriate obstacle course and action games.
- A sports theme in which guests play various games such as tennis, badminton and ping pong in short round robins of 10 minutes each.
- A specific country or culture with decorations and food appropriate for that place.
- A favorite holiday theme such as Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, or Christmas – regardless of what month it is.
- A scavenger hunt with teams of three or four children each taking digital photos of items from a prepared list.
Gift-Giving on a Budget
Most parents would give a huge sigh of relief if the host family put a cap on how much to spend for a gift. This helps put the emphasis of the party on fun with friends rather accumulating a pile of gifts. It also makes it easier for children whose parents may be struggling financially to still participate.
There are some creative alternatives to consider:
- Let the birthday child pre-select a special cause and ask each guest to add coins to a piggy bank. After everyone arrives the children can count out how much they collected. The parents can send a check for that amount to the cause in honor of the birthday child.
- Ask each guest to bring a favorite snack to share instead of a gift.
- Have the birthday child think of a mini-service project he or she might like to do. Invite guests to pitch in to rake leaves for an elderly neighbor, sing songs at a nursing home, or collect liter at a park or beach.
- Have a “white elephant” gift exchange in which each child (including the birthday child) contributes a wrapped toy or game they’re willing to swap. Each child draws a number. In order, from low to high number, let each child select a wrapped item.
A Child’s Birthday Can be a Special Day Without Being a Stressful Day
Birthdays are especially important to children. Children are always looking forward to being older than their current age. A great birthday party starts with a realistic budget. Planning is more effective when the whole family is in on the planning. By being creative in choosing a place, a theme, and ways to handle the games and gifts the birthday child can be honored, the guests will have a great time, and the parents won’t end up regretting how much the celebration cost.